Image of Women in The Turn of The Screw

Categories: The Turn of The Screw

Henry James’s “The Turn of the screw” narrates the story of a young woman who is working now as a governess. After their parents’ death, two orphans become the responsibility of their uncle. Therefore this one decided to hire somebody for the kids so they can receive education while he is not there. However, the incident encountered by the governess while she was dwelling in Bly have become divided into lots of questions accompanied with doubt, since it is a story from the end of the XIXth century.

Even though she has been warned by the uncle not to interact with, the governess still could have told him about the ghosts she sees, but not mentioning it to the master have the audience wondering whether the ghosts are real or is the governess simply delusional.

This novel emphasizes the situation of the governess who may be pictured as crazy since she is the only person at Bly able to perceive the phantoms.

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Although she gets across the apparitions many times and describes them as they used to look like when they were alive, the governess may be conceiving those ghosts in her mind for the reason that they strangely appeal her because of their status of “infamous”, or she thinks all of this to satisfy and find comfort with herself not being with her employer.

The Governess was calmed in by her captivation by the uncle. His condition ought to have been a notice sign as it was to the next potential tutors.

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This tutor had such a solid feeling of self who might consider it to be an inability to herself and the Master. She could deal with any circumstance that could emerge in the house at Bly. Tragically as I would see it this Governess was never going to be set up to deal with her obligations. Inside her initial couple of days at Bly she was very stricken with the enchanting Uncle and beguiling little Flora. She found a partner in the house manager Mrs. Grose. Everything appeared to be immaculate. Inside the primary seven day stretch of work at Bly the Governess gets a letter expressing that Miles the young man who was to be in her consideration for the couple of long stretches of his excursion from school was being sent home not to return for being ‘damage to alternate understudies’ (H. James Pg. 34).

When she tells Mrs. Grose the idea of the letter she rejects the issue in the letter. ‘See him, Miss,4 first. At that point trust it!’ (H. James Pg. 34). Indeed, even with this expulsion there is question in the tutor’s mind that Mrs. Grose is keeping something from her. Whenever the Governess talks with Mrs. Grose she asks about the past Governess and needed to know whether she observed there to be anything amiss with Miles. Mrs. Grose did not review anything said by the previous tutor when asked again Mrs. Grose uncovered that the last tutor had passed on. At the point when our tutor asked with regards to the reason for the passing of the previous tutor she is told ‘She was not taken sick so far as showed up in this house’ (J. Henry Pg. 36).

What might this do any individual in this circumstance? Discovering that in seven days of beginning that one youngster had been removed from school before meeting the kid. That the lady that went before her had passed on and the main clarification given was that she didn’t wind up debilitated that simply living in the house prompted her destruction. This is the start of the contention between carrying out her responsibility which she believed she could deal with and would satisfy the uncle. Or on the other hand should she surrender to her feelings of trepidation and questions and simply leave. I feel that the tutor was so frustrated as to her capacity to deal with this circumstance she remained on. That choice was the start of her ruin into franticness.

After Meeting miles she convinced herself that there was something wrong with the head masters in the school there was no way this child could be the injury they spoke of. There would be no reason to contact the uncle because meeting the young boy for the first time and by sight alone there could be nothing wrong with such a charming child. In her first weeks of“that charming summer” … “They gave me so little trouble – they were of a gentleness so extraordinary”… “they often gave me what I used to call my own hour” … (H. James Pg. 38).

During one of these hours that she thought to herself “it would be as charming as a charming story suddenly to meet someone. Someone would appear there at the turn of a path and would stand there before me and smile and approve” … “I only asked that he should know, and the only 5 way to be sure he knew would be to see it, and the kind light of it, in his handsome face” (H.James Pg.39) she so desperately wanted her masters approval that she was doing the right thing. This was a delusional idea. He would never know how good of a job she was doing. If he even cared what kind of job she was doing. She would never get this response no matter how much she wished it to happen. In the next instant when she left the garden the governess thinks she sees her master the one who would validate her concerns about the job she has been doing. She then realizes that it is not the uncle at all and it is no one she has ever seen around Bly (H. James Pgs.39, 40).

I feel this is a manifestation of the conflict that has been going on within the governess’s mind. She is confident and sure that the children’s uncle appearing to her is a message she is doing the right thing. Taking a second glance she realizes it is not the uncle. Maybe an intruder could have possibly entered the house and could put the children in danger. She knows she has failed her master and herself she is obviously not up holding her responsibilities. What happens to someone who is over confidant and then they start doubting themself ?

Some readers interpret this to be a true ghost story. The children’s former governess Miss. Jessel and the valet Peter Quint are controlling the children from beyond the grave. I to a certain extent believe that these children were possessed.

“It was Quint’s own Fancy. To play with him, I mean – to spoil him.” … “Quint was much too free.”This gave me straight from my vision of his face – such a face! – a sudden sickness of disgust“Too free with my boy?” “Too free with everyone” Reading this we can come to the conclusion that Peter Quint may have been a sex addict and a pedophile. If Quint did have his way with “everyone” we are told that Quint and Miles were close. If Quint had shared intimate knowledge of his relationship with Ms. Jessel or if he was really “too free” with the young boy? Miles would certainly had been affected by this in a way he would have been“ possessed” from beyond the grave by having to live with the unspeakable things that may have been done to him. I feel that the governess was not the only person that was driven mad in the house at Bly. The thought of these two young children who have had death surround them. Their parents have died. They were left in the care of their uncle who as far as the reader knows wants nothing to do with them. Then they lose what may have been the closest relationship of their young lives they have had to anyone even if it was an unhealthy one. They didn’t know they were robbed of their innocents. They could not have normal childhood after such events.

The death of Peter Quint and Ms. Jessel would have left a void within Miles. He had to deal with another loss and the realization eventually of the kind of relationship he had with Peter Quint. He would have severe personal issues to work though. Our governess could in no way deal with the situation Miles is working through. Her reaction to this information she had concluded that Quint has come back for the Miles. To her the ghost would be a more reasonable then what might actually be haunting Miles. Leading up to Miles death when the Governess presents the choice and names Peter Quint Miles may have had the realization of what was done .Him losing his innocence. Looking to the Governess to escape the pain and find comfort in her . The weight of his whole ordeal and traumatic childhood are too much for him to handle. He dies in her arms rather than live with this truth.

Greg Zacharias essay uses Jacques Lacan idea of a “big Other” and “small other” relationship and how those relationships relate to the turn of the screw. Our governess is the “small other” and the uncle her employer is the “big Other” he is the authority figure the someone who’s approval she desires and who’s rules she must abide. Her whole self-worth is based on his approval of how well she does her job. Our governess never gets this approval from her “big Other” she must determine if she has been doing a good job under her masters rules. In the beginning she was quite confident that she was handling the goings on at Bly. It is when self-doubt entered the picture she starts to see the ghosts. There was nothing she could do she was not responsible for Miles being expelled from school. This was her first realization that she may not be capable of meeting the uncle’s expectations.

Zacharias read “the governess’s narrative as a confession” … that although she sent it to Douglas it was meant for her Harley Street employer (G. Zacharias Pg. 321) to think of it as a confession. Some might think that the governess thought she had done nothing wrong. Looking at this from the analytical side I think the governess left Bly feeling she was in the right. She did her job she protected Flora and she believed she saved Miles soul before he died. Did the uncle care that Miles had died? He did not want anything to do with the children but maybe he really did care maybe he blamed the governess for the death of his nephew and causing distress to his niece. Her confession would absolve her of any wrong doing in his eyes. We know she held on to this story just before she died. Was this her confession to give her piece of mind to prevent her from possibly haunting another governess in the house at Bly.

We learn from Ms. Grose that Miss. Jessel was infamous…. They were both infamous;

and to the Governess Come there was something between them( Quint and Jessel) She replies

there was everything. He did what he wished Ms. Grose goes on. “With her?”

The Governess inquires.

“With them all” Ms. Grose replies.(H.James pg.58).

“ From these and other hints and suggestions we gradually infer and implied story about the past: that Quint was a sexual libertine and that he and Miss. Jessel were lovers that they in some was corrupted or damaged little Miles and Flora ”(M.Scofield pg.100) Either way the implications are that Miles had been “ corrupted by Quint either by homosexual seduction or by being involved in some way in the affair between Quint and Miss. Jessel”

This implied “second story” totally changed my opinion of this story. The fact that I don’t believe ghost are real but I do know there is evil in the world. There are Adults who are capable of taking away a child’s innocents. Either by molestation or giving them intimate knowledge of their relationships. While one is unthinkable the other is not something any reasonable adult would discuss with a child of ten. Had Miles been abused by Quint and Miss. Jessel and if he did speak of the things he learned with “only a few. Those I liked “ (H.James Pg.119) would certainly be a reason for his expulsion. This may also be the reasoning for his misbehavior once he returned to Bly. If he looked up to Quint who ran the house while he was there. Miles may have seen himself the new man of the house because he was treated as an equal while Quint was around. All of these reasons would cause Miles to act out the conflict within himself between a scared and confused boy and young man trying to assert himself. It is no wonder the governess believed him possessed.


The governess should have known better that she would not in any way be able to catch the uncle’s attention on her. She tried hard in her mind but it was ineffective. Her employer is not even concerned with his own niece and nephew if he prefers staying in the dark about anything that happens, thereby she was not of any matter to him.The thought can even go further by wondering if the uncle knew about the stuff that happened in his house. He was aware about Quint and his acts. James lets the audience confused the whole time because of his euphemism.

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Image of Women in The Turn of The Screw. (2021, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Image of Women in The Turn of The Screw

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