The Delusional Governess in Henry James' The Turn of the Screw

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The existence of the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw has always been in debate. Instead of directly discussing whether the ghosts are real or not, this essay will focus on the reliability of the governess, the narrator of the story. After making a close examination of her state of mind while she is at Bly, readers of The Turn of the Screw will have many more clues to ponder again and to decide to what extent the governess can be believed. While critics like Heilman argue that there are problems with the interpretation that the governess was psychopathic, textual evidence incorporated with scientific research show that the governess did go through a period of psychical disorder that caused her insomnia, out of which she created …show more content…
The governess was young and inexperienced. Douglas described the governess as ¡§young, untried, nervous¡¨ (James 5). The work at Bly was her first experience as a governess. The idea of playing the dominant role at Bly may have scared her because in her whole life, she had never had the opportunity to play that kind of role in her family. Moreover, as a parson¡¦s youngest daughter, she had little experience of the world, the grandeur of the villa impressed her as she felt upon seeing it: ¡¨The scene had a greatness that made a different affair from my own scant home¡¨ (James 7). Heller explains:
The governess is worried about her responsibility from the beginning. At twenty she is barely an adult herself. The youngest of several children of a poor country parson, she has never seen the kind of life over which she must now rule alone, has never had a large bed, an expansive view, perhaps not even a room of her own. She has never seen herself full length in a mirror before. She wonders whether she can rise to the responsibility of directing the care of two children in such an establishment. (55)

Ever since the governess arrived at Bly, her spirit had been kept in a state of alert. There were a lot of new things thrown in that struck her. In an actual example, a

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