The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James Essay

The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James Essay

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With each turn of the figurative screw, more screws were loosened in the governess. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is a story about a governess that slowly went insane. She saw the “ghosts” of deceased workers and her reactions to these visions made the children and Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper, fear and distrust her. The governess began showing signs of mental instability and throughout the book her condition worsened, until she was completely insane.
From the very beginning of the book, the governess showed signs of mental instability. The first, and the only, time she met the uncle, she was instantly swept away by him; her youthful innocence and ideology betrayed her. She also showed an early obsession with the children. The governess admitted she is easily influenced and she even told Mrs. Gross that she was fond of the Uncle at their Harley Street meeting.“I’m rather easily carried away.” (James 8) The children were inarguably beautiful and could do absolutely no wrong in her eyes, and she had not even met Miles yet. Even the news that Miles had been expelled from his school did not deter this image. This news came from Miles’s headmaster, but the governess did not tell the uncle the actual content of the letter, although he did know the letter arrived, as he had insisted she not bother him. (10) Mrs. Grose encouraged these thoughts, most likely trying to ensure the governess’ transition to her new job is smooth, and she bonded with the children quickly. This instant obsession was an early indicator of mental instability, possibly even early signs of a mental illness.
Consequently, these signs of mental instability manifested into a possible illness when the governess first encountered the “ghosts”. The ghosts were hal...


... middle of paper ...


...n the vision was over, Miles was dead, presumably by the governess’ own hands. She always believed the child could do no wrong, and killed him to prevent that image from being ruined. The governess committed the deed on purpose, although she was not in a healthy state of mind. In her head, the only bad thing Miles ever did was talk to Quint’s ghost, although it was her hallucinations that created those thoughts. The governess wanted to keep Miles to herself. “What does he matter now, my own?... I have you.” (86-87) She would rather have Miles dead than have her ideal image of him corrupted. She killed him so he could remain perfect in her own eyes.
Throughout the The Turn of the Screw, the governess showed signs of mental instability that escalated with each hallucination. Her final breaking point occurred in the conclusion where she finally snapped and killed Miles.

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