The Governess in The Turn of the Screw Essay

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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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