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Let Freedom Ring, And Essay On Henry James's The Turn Of The Screw

1065 words - 4 pages

Let Freedom Ring Freedom is a strange concept. Almost everybody wants it for themselves but when onehas power over someone else, they tend to hold onto this power and not grant freedom. This isthe case with the governess in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. As the governess, she hascontrol over her student Miles and she does not want to give him his freedom. Freedom isdefined as the ability to do what one wants. The governess is also battling ghosts throughout thestory, whom are assumed to be real. Throughout the story, Miles is being freed by the ghosts butrestricted by the governess. Ultimately, the governess wins this fight and Miles is not free. The ghosts and other negative influences in Miles's life are what makes him free. In aconversation with Mrs. Gross, Mrs. Gross tells the governess and that "Quint was much too free."The governess responds to this with "a sudden sickness of disgust." (323). This line shows twothings. First, it shows that Quint, one of the ghosts, is associated with freedom. Second, Mrs.Gross offers no definition of the word "free." It could just mean that Quint liked to give: maybehe spoiled Miles. The governess takes it to mean something awful, implying that she does not likethe concept of freedom. Another element of being free is the freedom to say what one wants.Miles takes advantage of this freedom, but only in a negative way. First and foremost, he isexpelled from school for saying "things" that were "too bad... to write home" (400-401). Since heis only talking to people he "liked" (400) he feels free to speak out and say what he wants. Thesethings turn out to be bad and hence the governess associates them with the ghosts. Consequently,the idea of freedom is associated with the ghosts. Another example of Miles feeling free to speakhis mind involves his sister Flora. She has spent the night with Mrs. Gross and Mrs. Gross saysthat Flora spoke "horrors" (388). Because Flora has spent most of her life without any outsideinfluences, the most likely person she learned to speak these horrors from is her brother. Here,Miles's feeling that he is free to speak what he wants when he wants to whomever he wants ishurting somebody besides himself: he is destroying the innocence of his sister. This sort ofcorrupting influence must be from the ghosts and it only happens because the ghosts make Milesfeel free to say what he wants to his sister even though his better judgment would otherwise turnhim away from doing so. Another place where he feels free to speak out is when they are walkingto church. Miles says he wants "to see more life" (361) and then demands that if he does not getthe freedom he seeks he will ask his uncle for it. This question of Miles getting his freedom soscares the governess that instead of going to church she runs home, planning on leaving the estateforever. In addition to the ghosts, another thing the governess is afraid of is being "practicedupon" (313). In...

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