This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Turn Of The Screw: An Ambivalent Text?

1260 words - 5 pages

“The Turn of the Screw is essentially an ambivalent text. Its narrative prompts divergent, even opposite readings, but does not reconcile them. What happens remains irrevocably uncertain” The former recorded statement will be debated to establish its validity, in addition to doing so it shall be illustrated my means of closely analysis the text as well as referring to a key passage within the novella.

In order to debate the statement provided it is firstly important to determine whether or not The Turn of the Screw is in fact an ambivalent text. This will be established by means of critically analysing the novella nonetheless, it is possible to agree with the statement provided after reading The Turn of the Screw. The term ambivalent- having mixed feelings about someone or something- can be considered an appropriate term to describe the novella as it helps the reader come to terms with the text. A brief outline of the story tells us of a tale in which a young woman is hired as a governess to take care of a gentleman’s seemingly innocent nephew and niece. As the Tale progresses we learn that the governess begins seeing ghosts one of which being he predecessor Miss Jessel.

In an attempt to make sense of the ambivalence within The Turn of the Screw it is vital to first illustrate such ambivalence within the text itself. The first example being whether or not the governess actually sees ghosts and if not are they are a mere figment of her imagination. Important to note here is the fact that the governess serves as both narrator and protagonist. This raises uncertainty as the ghosts are only visible to her throughout the text, therefore leaving us as readers with mixed feelings as to the credibility of the governess as a narrator. With close reference to the following passage an attempt shall be made to indicate how the texts narrative prompts divergent and even opposite readings.
“The day was grey enough, but the afternoon light still lingered, and it enabled me, on crossing the threshold , not only to recognise, on a chair near the wide window, then closed, the articles I wanted, but to become aware of a person on the other side of the window and looking straight in. One step into the room had sufficed; my vision was instantaneous; it was all there. The person looking straight in was the person who had already appeared to me. He appeared thus again with I won’t say greater distinctness, for that was impossible, but with a nearness that represented a forward stride in our intercourse and made me, as I met him, catch my breath and turn cold. He was the same – he was the same, and seen, this time, as he had been seen before, from the waist up, the window, though the dining room was on the ground floor, not going down to the terrace on which he stood. His face was close to the glass, yet the effect of his better view was, strangely, only to show me how intense the former had been. He remained but a few seconds – long enough to...

Find Another Essay On The Turn of the Screw: An Ambivalent Text?

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 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

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

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

Turn Of the Screw, The Governess' repression

851 words - 3 pages Frustration causes many to lose grip on reality. When one aspires to complete a goal, but fails, frustration ensues. Turn of the Screw by Henry James showcases the narrator's futile attempts to carry out her plans. With every turn of the screw, the story goes deeper, and truth fades into transparency. At face value, the story shows ghosts corrupting the house's youth. However, the Governess' frustration-induced duplicity proves to make her

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

Turn of the Screw -- Book Report

1201 words - 5 pages exist, and The Turn of the Screw is a psychological novel.Whichever interpretation you choose, the main theme remains the same - the actual versus the imaginary. James could have described in detail the specific points of the story. It would seem, however, that his purpose is to demonstrate what the mind makes of such mysteries - that is, how we can presume too much in an environment of ambiguity.Another theme in The Turn of the Screw is evil

Turn Of The Screw By Henry James

1106 words - 4 pages Turn of the Screw by: Henry James After reading 'The Turn of the Screw';, by Henry James, I was left with many unanswered questions. The two main questions are, are the ghosts in the story real, or are they just figments of the narrator's imagination? When I read though the essays of criticism, I took a stand on one particular argument. I took a stand that supports the argument that the ghosts are real. In this story we see many strange things

Turn of the screw by henry jam

1111 words - 4 pages Turn of the Screw by: Henry James After reading "The Turn of the Screw", by Henry James, I was left with many unanswered questions. The two main questions are, are the ghosts in the story real, or are they just figments of the narrator's imagination? When I read though the essays of criticism, I took a stand on one particular argument. I took a stand that supports the argument that the ghosts are real.In this story we see many strange things

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 Love Between the Classes: An Analysis of Social Status Violation in The Turn of the Screw A Marxist reading of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James brings to light how social status differences and above all how the violation of these distinctions affect the story. The relationship between the governess and Miles is a clear example of this kind of transgression. As an unnamed character, the governess has an indefinite social status. She is

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