The Representation of Tone in The Turn of the Screw
The purpose of tone is to express the author’s attitude toward elements of a story, such as characters, setting, or a situation. This literary device sets the mood of the story for the reader. Henry James uses tone effectively in the novel, The Turn of the Screw. The mood of the story shifts three times as the story progresses. It begins by being cheerful, then hostile and ends being depressing. The tone shifts due to the changes in the attitude and actions by the governess.
The beginning of The Turn of The Screw, the tone is overall cheerful. Two specific tones that stand out are joyful and dreamy. The tone is joyful as the story begins with Douglas and friends sitting around a campfire telling each other stories and having a good time. Everyone is having fun and it appears no one wants to go even though Douglas is unable to tell his story which is the governess’s tale of when she was hired to work at Bly till later. He asks “Is n’t anybody going? It was almost the tone of hope. Everybody will stay!” (James 6). This proves the get together is too wonderful to leave and everyone is enjoying the scary stories being told. The tone here represents the mood of the characters around the campfire, however shifts to the governess as her story begins. Despite the shift, the tone remains positive. The governess arrives at the house named Bly and sees this beautiful girl who is extraordinarily polite and is too good for her own self. She believes that the house and the girl are a dream. This is proven when the governess says, “such a place as would somehow, for diversion of the young idea, take all colour out of story-books and fairy-tales” (James 16). This shows that the governess believes that Bly and all of its inhabitants are taken out of fairy-tales and story-books, and brought to real life. The tone described as dreamy, accurately depicts that the governess’s feeling about where she is. Cheerful accurately depicts the tone at the beginning of the novel as it represents the governess’s attitudes about the settings and the other characters she meets.
Towards the middle of the novel, the tone shifts from being cheerful to hostility. Two specific tones that stand out in this section are frightened and furious. This change occurs due to the governess being frightened by the ghost of Peter Quint. The two meet one night, in a dark hallway, she stands on top and the ghost was standing in the middle of the staircase. The governess describes the scene as, “It was the dead silence of our long gaze at such close quarters that gave the whole horror” (James 63). It is because of the governess being frightened by the ghost that the whole tone shifts to reflect this scary experience. The mood of the story shifts to...