Gender Criticism and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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Gender Criticism and The Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James continues to stir up an immense amount of controversy for such a short novel. Making a definite, educated decision on the actual truth considering the countless inquiries that develop while reading this story proves more difficult than winning a presidential election. That being understood, taking one particular side on any argument from a close reading of the story seems impossible, because the counter argument appears just as conceivable. Any side of the controversy remains equally disputable considerably supported by textual evidence from the novel. One issue which, like the rest, can be answered in more than one ways is why Mrs. Grose believes the
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It is a story predominantly populated by people of the lower class, living servants like Mrs. Grose and a governess, which is our narrator, and the not-so-living servants like Miss Jessel and Quint. It is interesting to see how throughout the novel the Governess is proud to place herself slightly above the other servants, just as Mrs. Grose places Miss Jessel above Quint, however the fact of the matter was that to the rest of society, these people were all considered to be on the same bottom level of the socio-economic ranking at the time. Robbins brings up an interesting idea in his criticism that Henry James is trying to explain the standpoint of society throughout the novel, which is that society felt that servants were not meant to be part of real society but were meant to just blend into the background and do their job without really being noticed or acknowledged. He basically uses the ghosts as symbols, even reminders of the fact that the governess is just like them, in the way that she is below most of society since she is an “upper-class” servant, and is therefore invisible and “something less than [a] human being” (336). The housemaids, the dairywoman, the gardener, and an old pony were all said to be equivalents to each other, therefore making these servants comparable to a pony, which is definitely not making them on the same level as other human beings, let alone those of a higher class. James is

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