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 make allusions to sexual
topics, (without stating anything explicitly) madness, ghosts and the
Victorian society. In this essay I will be analysing each of the above
in order to make a conclusion as to what I think the children need
protecting from.

As for the ghosts being present or not, this can be argued. A point
arguing the ghosts are present is in the introduction of the story.
The man telling the story said he knew the governess and he credits
the story with being a real ghost tale and the governess as being a
real hero. Another point suggesting the ghosts are present is that
when the governess “sees” Peter Quint she is able to go back to Mrs
Grose with a fairly full description of him, even though she had never
actually met him whilst he was alive.

Another aspect of the novel that shows the ghosts exist is the
vocabulary used to describe Miles and flora. They are called ‘cherubs’
and have religious connections made saying they are ‘angelic’. The
governess sees Flora as ‘so very remarkable’ and ‘the most beautiful
child ever seen…’. The children seem to be too perfect. Flora is
described as being the most perfect child yet so many supernatural
things occurs it is quite unbelievable that she is so very sweet and

Going onto a point suggesting the governess was purely hallucinating
is that she can only give a vague description of Miss Jessel. The
governess told Mrs Grose that Miss Jessel was beautiful, this
statement, somehow, convinced Mrs Grose to believe the governess saw
Miss Jessel. But either way I don’t believe the governess saw the
ghosts based on two main factors; first being, her vague description
of Miss Jessel, and secondly, the fact Mrs Grose never saw either of
the ghosts.

I think the children need protection from the governess and her
imagination. The governess comes across to have an unbalanced
behaviour which doesn’t go well with the children. I also think
madness links into the fact the governess is hallucinating. I believe
the hallucinations have lead the governess to get carried away, which
slowly turned her insane and made her very over-protective towards the
children. The more the governess hallucinates the more insane she is
going to get, which is not going to protect the children in anyway as
she would be trying to sort out her imagination. The governess is only
a child herself, having to cope with two other children alone maybe a
bit to much too handle, so having this other pressure (the
hallucinations) to cope with...

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