A Character Analysis of Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw, a Novel by Henry James

Categories: The Turn of The Screw

In Henry James’s novella, The Turn of the Screw, the governess observes and describes the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, as “a stout simple plain clean wholesome woman” (13) within half an hour of meeting her. The governess’s description of Mrs. Grose turns out to be true. Mrs. Grose’s trusting character makes her simple, plain, and clean, while her dedication to the children makes her stout and wholesome.

Mrs. Grose is clean, being pure and innocent as she is trustful of others.

She is trustful of the children, believing that they are incapable of being corrupted or bad. She responded with disbelief saying, “Master Miles!–him an injury?… It’s too dreadful… to say such cruel things! Why he’s scarce ten years old” (18) when the governess accuses Miles of being an “injury” to others as a result of the letter informing of his expulsion from school. Her trusting character also makes her plain and simple, as she is presenting no difficulty or challenges to the governess’s beliefs and is easily persuaded and influenced by her.

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She believes the governess’s claim that “[Peter Quint] was looking for little Miles” (39) to corrupt him and that Flora was hiding that she was able to see Miss Jessel. Mrs. Grose was influenced by the governess to also believe the ghosts were corrupting the children and had personally asked Flora, “where, my pet, is Miss Jessel” (107) when both she and the governess had avoided confronting the children with the subject. Mrs. Grose’s view of the children changes as a result of the governess’s influence.

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Mrs. Grose started out believing that the children were inherently innocent even when presented with the letter of Miles’s expulsion from school, and just because of the governess’s claims of the ghosts corrupting the children, she at the end of the story, blatantly accuses the children of being bad when she says accusatively that “Miles stole letters” (118).

Mrs. Grose is stout and wholesome because of her dedication to the children. She is stout because she is determined to care for the children. Mrs. Grose had been at Bly through the deaths of two employees, Miss Jessel and Peter Quint. Though two deaths would be strange and haunting, she remained at Bly and “was acting for the time as superintendent” (9) to Flora, whom she was “extremely fond” (9) of, between the time of the death of Miss Jessel and the arrival of the new governess. Mrs. Grose also stayed at Bly when it became more haunting with the governess claiming that the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Peter Quint were seeking to corrupt the children. She assists the governess in protecting the children from corruption when she leaves with Flora to comply with the governess’s request to “get [Flora) away, far from this… far from them” (117). She is wholesome because of this, as she believes that she is promoting the moral innocence of the children by helping the governess save the children from corruption by taking them away from the influence of the ghosts.

In Henry James’s novella, The Turn of the Screw, the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, is described by the governess as “a stout simple plain clean wholesome woman” (3). The governess’s description of her is true because she is shown to be clean, plain, and simple due to how she is overly trusting and gullible with her belief that the children are inherently innocent and how she was easily persuaded by the governess’s claims that the children are corrupted. She is shown to be stout and wholesome as she is dedicated to the children and is determinant in protecting them from the corrupting influence of the ghosts.

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A Character Analysis of Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw, a Novel by Henry James. (2022, Feb 12). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-character-analysis-of-mrs-grose-in-the-turn-of-the-screw-a-novel-by-henry-james-essay

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