Narration In The Turn Of The Screw

1475 words - 6 pages

Narration in The Turn of the Screw

Henry James makes the governess the narrator because she keeps the
readers’ interest by also being involved in the story as a main
character. However, being involved on this personal level, it can make
the governess exaggerate at times and be over-emotional. Her
determined and curious nature makes her an ideal candidate to explore
the mysterious happenings, however her imagination keeps the reader in
suspense, as we are never sure how much she has exaggerated the story.
This also adds tension as the full picture is never revealed. This
choice of narrator is therefore challenged by Susan Hill’s description
that a narrator should be ‘unimaginative and straightforward’ as the
governess’ increasing exaggeration, hysteria and ambiguity make her
less than straightforward.

The governess’s character is established at the beginning of the novel
when she meets the master. Her impressionability is displayed when he
immediately charms her. She has little experience at being a governess
as it says she is ‘The youngest of several daughters of a country
parson’, which also indicates her simple country background. Her
naivety also makes her very romantic and imaginative. James writes
that she has ‘…come up to London from the country’ which hints that
the governess is very determined and eager for the job. Her trusting
nature is also revealed when she doesn’t question the master’s bizarre
rule; ‘that she should never trouble him again.’ She doesn’t question
him, as she is enthralled and under his spell, hinting at her
infatuation. This also could mean that the narrative would be biased
in his favour.

The governess first sees Peter Quint at dusk in the first few weeks of
her governorship at Bly. The governess is standing in the trees in the
garden, and Peter Quint appears on top of the tower. James makes us
think that there is something unusual about this, because the
governess is imagining the master appearing like that to tell her
she’s doing a good job, so her imagination becomes reality. However,
it soon becomes clear that this was not the person she was imagining
appearing, as he is not wearing a hat, something no gentleman would be
without in Victorian times. Also it is dusk when he appears, and all
of the birds stop singing and the scene is described as ‘stricken with
death’ all of which create a suitable atmosphere for a spectre to
appear in.

The governess’s reaction to the sighting is to stand transfixed on the
spot, as she cannot believe that her imagination may have become
reality. She is scared, as it says she ‘stood stricken to the spot.’
However, she cannot take her eyes away from him, possibly because she
doesn’t know whether he is real or a figment of her imagination. Also
the fact that they are unchaperoned, and that Peter Quint is not
wearing a hat, seems to shock her most of all, as she says ‘An unknown
man in a lonely place is a permitted object of fear...

Find Another Essay On Narration in The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw Essay

726 words - 3 pages As I write this essay at one in the morning just like a typical student on a weekday, I find astounding how a story can leave you with more questions than answers. The Turn of the Screw acts as a perfect example of it. This particular story can be interpreted in many ways, and based in our own opinion we can therefore formulate an answer. The uncertainty of the facts drags us to make up our own answers to the questions. Why? Because if our mind

The Turn of the Screw Essay

1165 words - 5 pages Superficially, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw seems to reinforce the status quo of American literature as male, whereby men are viewed as having power over women leaving women to become mere objects. James creates a nameless female protagonist whose story is told through the guise of a male narrator. She becomes an object viewed by Douglas’s audience and is used simply as means for the master on Harley Street to avoid being bothered by his

Turn of the Screw Ambiguity

660 words - 3 pages In the novella Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the owner of the estate at Bly, a bachelor left to take care of his young niece and nephew, seeks a governess who "should never trouble him...neither appeal nor complain nor write about anything; only meet all questions herself, receive all moneys from his solicitor, take the whole thing over and let him alone," (James 122). Either the governess' paranoia over these strange demands causes her to

Turn of the Screw Analysis

1025 words - 5 pages Throughout the Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, ambiguity is used purposely in respect to the reality of the ghosts. Without certainty the reader must guess and assume in order to determine if the ghosts are real or if they are conjured in the governess's mind. In this book there is more proof for the imagination of the ghosts. One source of evidence is the preparedness of the governess. At the beginning of the book the governess is being

Turn of the Screw Analysis

994 words - 4 pages Throughout the Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, ambiguity is used purposely in respect to the reality of the ghosts. Without certainty the reader must guess and assume, in order to determine if the ghosts are real or if they are conjured in the governess's mind. This ambiguity means everyone can come to the table with different ideas, which means my opinion is not the only one in the world. However, in this sea of ideas and concepts I will

Escaping the Governess in The Turn of the Screw

2424 words - 10 pages Escaping the Governess in The Turn of the Screw   At the end of The Turn of the Screw, great ambiguity exists surrounding Miles's death because serious questions remain about the credibility of the Governess who was the original author of the story. The ambiguity lies with the question of whom Miles was saved from at the end of the novel: the Governess or Quint. At the end of the novel the Governess holds Miles dead body in her arms

The Role of Sexuality in Turn of the Screw

875 words - 4 pages Henry James's Turn of the Screw was written in a time when open sexuality was looked down upon. On the surface, the story is simply about a governess taking care of two children who are haunted by two ghosts. However, the subtext of the story is about the governess focusing on the children's innocence, and the governess trying to find her own sexual identity. Priscilla L. Walton wrote a gender criticism themed essay about the Turn of the Screw

Maternal Instinct in The Turn of the Screw

1736 words - 7 pages Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw is one of the more disputed texts in all of literature, as it is famously known as an ambiguous text. The primary uncertain element of is whether there are ghosts scaring the governess and the children, or whether the governess is actually going insane. Even though a certain portion of the text is ambiguous, there are other portions of the text that are much more black and white. For example, the relationships

Protecting Miles and Flora in The Turn of the Screw

2040 words - 8 pages Protecting Miles and Flora in The Turn of the Screw “I saw my service so strongly and simply. I was there to protect and defend the little creatures…” The governess sees it as her duty to protect Miles and Flora. What do they need protection from and how does Henry James illustrate this in his novel “The Turn of the Screw”? Henry James’s ‘Turn of the Screw’ can be interpreted in many different ways. He constructed his novel in order to

Contradiction in The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

1079 words - 4 pages The Turn of the Screw, a ghost story novella by Henry James, was first published in 1898. It is described as a masterpiece in storytelling, and because of how it creates an atmosphere of terror; it is considered a central text in the horror genre. The story is about a guest named Douglas reading to other guests a story from a written record. An unknown narrator remembers some friends gathering at an old house to listen to one another’s ghost

Henry James' The Turn of the Screw

1719 words - 7 pages Henry James' The Turn of the Screw Peter G. Beidler informs us that there have been “hundreds” of analyses of Henry James’ spine-tingling novella, The Turn of the Screw (189). Norman Macleod suggests that James himself seems to be “an author intent on establishing a text that cannot be interpreted in a definite way” (Qtd in Beidler 198). Yet, the vast majority of analyses of The Turn of the Screw seem to revolve around two sub-themes: the

Similar Essays

Turn Of The Screw Essay

704 words - 3 pages The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, has a movie version in addition to the book. Both accounts tell essentially the same story, but because many interpretations can be formulated, the movie is only an example of one interpretation. One particular section of interest is the very last scene in the movie and chapter 24 in the book. Although the movie makes it clear that the governess accidentally suffocated Miles, the book is up to personal

Turn Of The Screw Essay

2709 words - 11 pages “The Turn of the Screw” Henry James, the famous author of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ was born on April 15, 1843 to his wealthy parents Henry James and Mary Walsh. His father, also called Henry James, was an Irish immigrant and by the time his own children were born he had inherited a lot of money from his father; and at this time Henry James senior and his family were living in New York. Henry James author of ‘The Turn Of The Screw’ was one of

The Turn Of The Screw Essay

1258 words - 5 pages weddingjourney” (113). Bettex 4 As Bruce Robbins points out, Henry James in The Turn of the Screw “clearly resists historical interpretation, which would fill in [the] blanks with knowledge of social group” (335). Yet, the present analysis of the relationship between Miles and the governess precisely shows the relevance of a historical and social reading of the story. Placing the governess’s narration into a socio-historic context reveals the conflict

The Turn Of The Screw Essay

1617 words - 7 pages Henry James' novel The Turn of the Screw is twofold. In the first chapter, the story begins at a Christmas party where guests hear the governess' tale of fright and fight. This story is referred to as “two turns” of the screw by an anonymous guest at the Christmas party because the reader asks if they want to hear a story about two children instead of only one (3). In the governess' account, it tells about her duty as caretaker of two wealthy