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The Turn of the Screw - Henry James

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 09:28 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.4 
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No matter if we read Henry James¡¦s The Turn of the Screw for fun or for a serious purpose, we all seem to undergo the search for Peter Quint and Miss Jessel ourselves as the governess depicts her own story. That is, the existence of the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw has always been in debate. Instead of directly discussing whether the ghosts are real or not, here in this paper, attention will be drawn to the reliability of the governess, the narrator of the story. After making a close examination of her state of mind while she is at Bly, readers of The Turn of the Screw will have many more clues to ponder again and to decide to what extent the governess can be believed. While critics like Heilman argue that there are problems with the interpretation that the governess was psychopathic, textual evidence incorporated with scientific research show that the governess did go through a period of psychical disorder that caused her insomnia, out of which she created hallucinations.

In the prologue, Douglas gave a detailed account of the master from the governess¡¦s point of view. She regarded him as ¡§handsome and bold and pleasant, off-hand and gay and kind; he struck her¡¨ (James 4). Later on we learn from Douglas that the governess accepted the job at Bly for the master¡¦s sake, and of course the generous salary offered by the master. Without any experience, the governess¡¦s passions for the master supported her to accept the job and confirmed her decision to take the challenge even though she feared not having the ability to accomplish the job. ¡§The moral of which was of course the seduction exercised by the splendid young man. She succumbed to it¡¨ (James 5). With the love for the master, the governess had the courage to visit the master again and eventually took the job. ¡§He held her hand, thanking her for the sacrifice, she already felt rewarded¡¨ (James 6). Her obsession with the master was somehow repressed owing to the absence of the master and the...


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