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 children, Flora and Miles, who live at Bly, a large estate, with their unnamed and unseen uncle and Mrs. Groose, the housekeeper. He is never actually seen in the story because he tells the governess not to bother him.
As the story first unfolds, the ...view middle of the document...

When she first arrivals to the house she says that “by the time [she] reached the house [she] had made up my mind to fly” (79). Consequently, she tries to protect Miles from a ghost that he cannot see by taking them away from this goddamn place. However, her attempt backfires when after Miles not claiming to have seen a ghost, and “his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped” (120).
The governess is overbearing. She believes first hand that the children see the ghosts, too. For example, when Flora finally admits to her that she does not see any ghosts, she believes that she is helping protect them from her. The governess causes the children to become hysterical, and as the governess continues to see spirits she also becomes hysterical. She even starts to believe that on some nights the children creep out of their beds to visit the ghosts. Due to the governess’ tyrannical nature, the children become greatly annoyed by the governess. In result, Miles asks to be sent to another school, and Flora insists on being sent away to escape the insistence of the governess’ refusal that the ghosts are not real.
The governess is the center of the story because she causes all the conflicts in the story. As the story first unfolds, Flora is a bright, well-adjusted girl who is in the top of her class. In the end, she wants nothing more than to escape the confines of the estate and be away from the governess’ rants. At the beginning, Miles is shy but mostly normal ten-year-old. As the story advances, he lives in fear of the governess and thinks that the house has become a madhouse. Not even a good student, he asks to sent to another school after getting dismissed from his formal school and wants to go far away from Bly and the governess. In the end, Miles dies from what can be explained as the fright of the governess’ own madness. This happens after Miles is close to seeing something, but before he can, his heart cannot overcome the stress any longer.
It can be argued that the ghosts cause most of the conflicts. However, the governess is the only one who sees the ghosts. She tries to help with an overbearing protection and is inconsistent about her feelings about the ghosts. At some points in the story, she likes to see the ghost, as she waits for their appearance. When she finally sees them again, she does whatever in her power to protect the children from them, but the children never see them nor does anyone else. Even the housekeeper who knew the people before they become ghosts never claim to have seen them, and even becomes hysterical herself when she thinks that the governess has become completely crazy.
The central theme, good venues evil, acts as a crutch to other classic elements of an insanity or ghost story. This is revealed in a few sections of the story. First, when the governess claims that when she sees the ghosts it relives her headaches. This is a story of insanity mainly because its protagonist, the governess, acts crazier than it is to be...

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