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Discuss The Effects, And Dangers, Of A Powerful Imagination In The Turn Of The Screw And The Magic Toyshop.

1824 words - 7 pages

The novels The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, and The Magic Toyshop, by Angela Carter both possess a great deal of fantasy on the behalf of the characters. This mainly features in the protagonists of Melanie in The Magic Toyshop and the governess in The Turn of the Screw. By examining the role of these main characters and those around them, the effects and dangers of strong character imagination will be exposed.“So long as the events are veiled, the imagination will run riot and depict all sorts of horrors, but as soon as the veil is lifted, all mystery disappears.” (Henry James). This shows that from an author’s perspective, an imagination is a powerful thing, adding mystery and suspense to a novel, as opposed to the possibly rather boring events of real life. In order to maintain this power of imagination, James ended The Turn of the Screw with a question mark, instead of a full stop.The governess has a strong imagination; to begin with, we see her beautifying what is ugly to make where she lives a nice place and to control some of her apprehension. The house was ‘a big, ugly, antique’ (p156), yet to her, the house makes ‘the view of a castle of romance inhabited by a rosy sprite, such a place as would somehow, for diversion of the young idea, take all color out of story books and fairy tales.’ (p155) This shows that a powerful imagination is not always a danger, often twisting things towards good. However, in this novel, it can be considered an insight to just how strong the governess’s imagination will become.One of the concepts of the story spurs from the governess’s imagination. In one case, the governess believes that the ghost of Peter Quint is casting his evil influence over Flora and Miles, attempting to corrupt them. This leads to irrational action and intense suspicion towards the children on the part of the governess, and is an example of a powerful imagination being a danger.One irony found here is that the governess realises that she has a commanding imagination, with ‘my dreadful liability to impressions of the order so vividly exemplified’ (p175), and yet does not make any attempts to control it or rethink the events of the ghostly appearances.The governess’s overactive imagination leads her so deep into this belief of the ghosts, that when she sees the ghost of Miss Jessel, but the housekeeper and Flora claim not to, the governess begins to think that Flora is lying, and scares her into moving bedrooms. Again, this shows that a powerful imagination can border onto paranoia, and be a danger.This continues on to one of the main themes in the novel: corruption of the innocent. While the governess believes that the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Peter Quint are trying to poison the children, her overactive imagination and suspicious, obsessive mind is doing the same thing, tormenting the children. The irony here is that, therefore, due to a powerful imagination, the children...

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