The Turn of the Screw by Henry James Essay

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James Essay

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Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw is a metacritical novella that has caused a plethora of debates among critics over decades of time since 1898 due to the multiplicity in perceptions in regards to the connection between the frame and the narrative. These discussions revolved around the pivotal notion of the ghosts and their existence in the home of Bly, which, when established, serves as a basis for the interpretation of the role of the frame and its characters. Although this enthralling tale contains perplexing turns and can be scrutinized from many different perspectives for its boundless critical controversies, the debates have focused mainly on two views: the apparitionists and the non-apparitionists. Along with that, the role of the frame narrative and its characters, such as the narrator, the governess, and Douglas, can be compared and contrasted when interpreting the plot sequence from each reading.
The apparitionists argue that The Turn of the Screw is merely an allegory or a traditional ghost story (Galili 2). Through this lens, Peter Quint and Miss Jessel are interpreted as embodiments of sin and evil that try to strip the children, Miles and Flora, of their innocence. The governess is seen as a protector who attempts to prevent these wicked intentions from harming the children, and in doing so, leads her to being titled as a so-called protagonist. In contrast, the non-apparitionists claim that there is something abnormal about the governess in a sense that she, who envisions the presence of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel, is either mentally-ill, confused or sexually suppressed, and thus, incessantly hallucinates the ghosts. In general, these proposed ideologies focus on establishing the governess’s credibility as a narra...


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...served. Through the analysis of the plot content, it has been determined that the frame narrative is disregarded in the non-apparitionist perspective since its information does not match the details in the main narrative. However, in the apparitionist lens, the frame plays a pivotal part in determining the roles of each frame character. Hence, it can be averred that both Henry James and Douglas are expert entertainers.



Works Cited

Galili, Merav. “Turning the Screw: Douglas’s Triumph.” Proseminar. Web. 15
Nov. 2013. .

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. Buffalo: Broadview Press, 1985. Print.

Williams, Jeff. “Narrative Games: The Frame of The Turn of the Screw.” The Journal
Of Narrative Technique. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. .

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