One of the most critically discussed works in twentieth-century American literature, The Turn of the Screw has inspired a variety of critical interpretations since its publication in 1898. Until 1934, the book was considered a traditional ghost story. Edmund Wilson, however, soon challenged that view with his assertions that The Turn of the Screw is a psychological study of the unstable governess whose visions of ghosts are merely delusions. Wilson’s essay initiated a critical debate concerning the interpretation of the novel, which continues even today (Poupard 313). Speculation considering the truth of the events occurring in The Turn of the Screw depends greatly on the reader’s assessment of the reliability of the governess as a …show more content…
Afterwards, however, she infers that because Miles is beautiful, the expulsion is absurd and he must be innocent: “…he was only too fine and fair for the little horrid unclean school-world…” She later claims that “[h]e had never for a second suffered. [She] took this as a direct disproof of his having really been chastised…” She feels that all of these inferences are truths because Miles is beautiful. Because the governess can see that Miles is beautiful, she infers that he can do nothing wrong, and thereby guesses the unseen from the seen. The governess soon begins to trace the implication of things. Peter Quint’s second appearance leads the governess to claim that he had not come for her. “He had come for someone else. This flash of knowledge” later convinces her that the person he has come for is Miles. Quint wants to appear to the children. On another occasion, when the ghost of Miss Jessel appears to the governess when Flora is near, she is certain that the child has seen the apparition. In talking to Mrs. Grose about the occasion, she tells her that; “Flora saw…I saw with my eyes: she was perfectly aware…I’m clear. Flora doesn’t want me to know…[Miss Jessel’s intention is to] get hold of her…That’s what Flor d9c a knows.” Never in the novel is there any reason given for supposing that anyone other than the governess, especially the children, sees the ghosts. Although she believes that the children do see them, there
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Zacharias’s “The Extraordinary Flight of heroism the occasion demanded of me.’: Fantasy and Confession in The Turn of the Screw” describes the actions and the apparitions in the novella as a part of the governess’s anxieties and how they are the symbol which resemble the execution of her job. The readers first get an understanding of how fantasy is her coping mechanism when she first has troubles dealing with the job. As Zacharias puts it, “the fantasy relieves the anxiety she feels from feelings of inadequacy for the very fulfillment of the master’s expectations” (321). Zacharias then moves the audience towards the fact that the fantasy can also be the cause for anxiety, which is the intriguing aspect I would like to focus on.
Henry James's Turn of the Screw was written in a time when open sexuality was looked down upon. On the surface, the story is simply about a governess taking care of two children who are haunted by two ghosts. However, the subtext of the story is about the governess focusing on the children's innocence, and the governess trying to find her own sexual identity. Priscilla L. Walton wrote a gender criticism themed essay about the Turn of the Screw, which retells certain parts of the story and touches on the significance they provide for the sexually explicit theme. Walton's essay is accurate because James purposely put an undertone of sexuality and identity confusion in the Turn of the Screw.
Readers might wonder with whom she was in love. Then the Master told the Governess about the previous governess and her death (James 296). The readers probably want to know the reason of the previous governess' death. When the Master talked about the duties of the Governess, he required her not to contact him in any way (James 297). We do not know why he made that requirement. As the story continues, the readers have many more unsolved questions such as why Miles was dismissed from school, why the Governess could describe Peter Quint exactly though she never meet him, and why the Governess thought that ghosts wanted to catch the two children. Ned Lukacher thinks that "[the way James] has said something also becomes a way of not having said something else" (132). For instance, James revealed some hints regarding the reason Miles was dismissed. We know that "[Miles]'s an injury to the others" (304) and Mrs. Grose thought Miles was "no boy for [her]" (305). However, these hints do not help the readers to completely understand why Miles was sent away from his school. Instead, more questions are posed, such as how such a ten-year-old boy could injure other students and why Mrs. Grose thought about Miles that way. The readers can not easily find the specific and reasonable answers in the story, so they have to guess the answers based on their own
The second visitation of the ghost of Peter Quint also occurs while the governess is by herself. As the governess, the children, and Mrs. Grouse are preparing for church, the governess goes back into the house to retrieve gloves she sees a visage of the same man she saw at the tower. When Mrs. Grose sees her face she immediately asks what is wrong. The governess goes on to describe the man that she has seen in an odd mixture of attraction and revulsion. This adds question to the reader on the subject of the validity of the testimony of the visitations
She believes Flora sees the ghost as well, but Flora withholds saying anything about the ghost. The governess waits for Flora’s reaction when she says, “My heart had stood stiffer an instant with the wonder and the terror of the question whether she too would see; and I held my breath while I waited for what a cry from her, what sudden innocent sign either of interest or alarm, would tell me. I waited, but nothing came…” (James 29). The governess waits for a reaction that never comes. She believes Flora sees Miss Jessel, but the governess is the only one seeing her. Flora does not see Miss Jessel because the ghost is a figment of the governess’s
A number of important themes are paralleled within both the play and Miller’s reality, including McCarthyism, which in contemporary times is generally referred to as, “reckless and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks, on political opponents”. McCarthy shares similarities with Abigail and the girls, who use their newfound political power to falsely accuse others and harness the power of fear as a means of control. Ultimately Miller draws a disturbing comparison – that despite almost two hundred years passes, the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 were no different to Miller’s trial in 1953, with fear and public hysteria ultimately the catalyst that drives American politics. This is eerily reflected once again in David Rothkopf’s TED Talk entitled How Fear Drives America Politics, released in 2015. Rothkopf’s focus on terrorism, resulting in hysteria and ultimately society’s civil liberties coming under attack draws similarities to both the power of the girls and their claims of witchcraft. “They posed an existential threat to no one.”, Rothkopf argues in reference to Al-Qaeda in the early 21st century, just as witchcraft did in Salem
The world is so full of stupendous works of literature, which are subjected to a plethora of different personal interpretations. It is inconceivable to imagine that each novel has only one prominent underlying message or theme. Arthur Miller, the American dramatist and playwright, out of The University of Michigan, was able to transform one of the most notable accounts of mass hysteria and loss of rational thought, and mold it into an elaborate and complex drama. Miller’s, The Crucible tells the story of the Salem witch trials that occurred in Salem, Massachusetts in the late seventeenth century. Literary lenses are used to assist readers in admiring and evaluating literary works, in an overabundance of ways. When analyzing The Crucible through the historical, psychological, and archetypal lenses, the reader can see the prominent niche that each lens plays within the story, significantly impacting the reader’s point of view on not only the story itself, but as well as the broader connection to society as a whole.
Moore and Miller extend their portrayal of hysteria from derivations of the extreme versions of historical political climates that exploited the morals and cognition of those they were governing. Power was evident within ‘The Crucible’ directly through the corrupt judicial system, basing their judgements on tactics that relied solely on the accused’s confession. ‘sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between’(Act 3. Scene 2. 45) explains Danforth’s black and white perception towards the authorities and the judicial system similar to majority of the authorities’ attitudes. Providing further insight into how Moore utilised dialogue to characterise and further structure the influence that power had on mass hysteria. Miller explored the idea of faith and how preconceived notions concerning the authenticity of religious figures in power are damaging to society, specifically through the characters of Reverend John Hale and Reverend Parris’s constant affirmations of propaganda that incited hysteria including publicly doubt within the community through ‘You have sent your spirit out upon this child, have you not? Are you gathering souls for the Devil? (Act 1. Scene 1. Page 34) ‘The Crucible’ was structured as a play so audiences could fully comprehend the emotive language intended to persuade and scare the community in a state of hysteria, consequently, allowing opposing perspectives to be easily identified. Moore explored
In the governess's insane pseudo-reality and through her chilling behavior, she managed to bring downfall to Flora and Miles, the children of Bly. With compulsively obsessive actions, irrational assumptions, and demented hallucinations, the governess perceived ghosts bearing evil intentions were attempting to corrupt and destroy the children she had taken the role of care for. In reality, the governess herself brought tragedy to the children through her own selfishness and insanity.
The Plot of “The Screwtape Letters,” by C. S. Lewis is interesting because it displays many themes relating closely to our daily lives. In “The Scretape Letters” there are four main characters- Screwtape, Wormwood, “the patient,” and “the woman” The plot of the story is a description of the everyday work of a demon taking over the life of an average human. Throughout the story Wormwood, screwtape’s nephew, is attempting to acquire the soul of “the patient’ for the duration of his life. We see only from the viewpoint of Screwtape, viewing only his opinions. During the plot “the patient” goes through many trails and tribulations just as Wormwood did, trying to gain a soul.
Miles represents a socially and sexually corrupt figure by the ghost of Peter Quint who violated status on two occasions. His being “too free” with Miles leads to controversy as well as his love affair with the previous governess. The governess’s knowledge on the history behind Quint and Miles changes drastically as she learns more information to discover truth. Her rejection of the idea that Miles could be “bad” transforms into an obsession noting his every action in hopes to reveal that the children are being possessed by ghosts. Despite the connotation of Quint’s clash of class boundaries, the text also suggests the potential homosexual nature of his association with Miles. Therefore, the ghost of Quint stands for everything the Governess is afraid of, and his sense of menace dictates Miles living through his identity.
Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw has been described as one of the best ghost stories of all time. However, there is clear evidence that the main character, the governess, suffers from delusions. The strange events that occur throughout the story happen in the estate of Bly. The anomalies, described as horrors or ghosts, only come to light after the governess arrives. These events are due to creations of the governess ' mind, her controlling intent to protect and overrule the children, and her unstable mental state. In this way, her thoughts and her actions are the cause of the strange events at Bly.
Henry James's The Turn of the Screw paints a landscape that is ripe for psychoanalytic analysis. He has chosen language and syntax that symbolize his main character's psychological fragmentation and her futile attempt to mend herself. Many of Lacan's theories emerge as the Governess reveals her motivations through her recollective narrative.
However, the children are probably not sure as what the governess is doing, and it has definitely harmed the psychology of the children. There is never mentioned in the story the clear intentions of the ghosts, and Miles and Flora have never accepted their sighting with the ghosts, but the governess insisted that the children were aware of their existence and were pretending as if they never knew what was going on. If this is viewed as if governess was pretending then she might be doing this to impress and prove her master how she cared about the children. But whatever the governess was doing, in reality, has confused the children about what she was referring to and they couldn’t understand her. This definitely made the children suffer, as for every child, image of ghost is very much terrifying .Whatever she was doing it resulted in Flora being sick and Miles dead at end of the story ( Poquette 257).
Throughout The turn of the Screw by Henry James, the theme of ambiguous issues is constantly leaving the reader on their own. The ambiguity and uncertainty within this text causes the readers to come up with their own theories as to what the text really means. The ghost story perspective only adds to the infuriating vagueness. The title itself is about all of the twists within this story and basically foreshadows the confusion that the text will cause.