• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How important is the role of the narrator in 'The Turn of the Screw'?

Extracts from this document...


How important is the role of the narrator in 'The Turn of the Screw'? In Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" the narrator has an essential role when interpreting the events of the book itself. James indirectly raises the issue of the narrator's sanity and therefore reliability, which creates the vast amounts of ambiguity for which the novella is most famously known. James makes an early suggestion that the Governess may not be a reliable narrator when she states that: 'I'm rather easily carried away.'. This suggests that the issue could 'easily' become an obsession of speculations to the point where she perceives them as reality. Also, the Governess later admits how her 'imagination had, in a flash, turned real'. Once again, James indicates that the Governess may be an unreliable source. However, as we are only told the story from one perspective and due to the fact that these issues are merely suggested by subtle evidence and never stated, the reader is constantly left uncertain. This ambiguity adds to the sense of mystery throughout. This, along with the sense of isolation in a strange environment described by James gives the novella typical characteristics of a gothic novel. ...read more.


In the beginning of the novella James describes how the Governess 'succumbed' to the 'seduction exercised by the splendid young man' who was her employer, the handsome uncle. It also tells of how she had 'passion' for him explaining why she may have fantasised over his approval. This may lead to the interpretation that Governess' repression has caused her perceptions to become her reality. Her courage and heroism is simply an attempt to show her value to her uninterested employer of whom she is so lustful. This indication of sexual repression is shown by the Governess' description of Peter Quint. She describes him as 'Remarkably!' handsome and to have 'good features'. She also claims 'he's like nobody' suggesting another element of attraction towards him. Additionally, she claims he gives a 'sense of looking like an actor'. It continues to imply he's in the master's clothes as Quint used to do previously, acting as a surrogate for the master. This unusual fascination with the males in the novella is supporting evidence that she is sexually repressed and is therefore an unreliable narrator. However, there is another possible explanation for the Governess' neurotic behaviour and possible insanity. The master tells the Governess that in working for him she would have 'supreme authority' at the household. ...read more.


Another reason why the Governess may be considered an unreliable narrator is due to the lack of evidence she provides for the ghosts' existence. For example, when describing her experience with Mrs.Jessel, she explains how she 'felt her' as apposed to seeing her. Also, when she claims to have has a conversation with Mrs.Jessel, she there is only mention of what the Governess says, she says nothing about anything Mrs.Jessel said. Throughout the novella, the structure of sentences created by James when describing the narrators' thoughts adds to her interesting role. James uses particulary long sentences, including many commas in her thoughts/narrations. This generates the impression that they are the Governess' frantic thoughts, adding to her portrayal as a neurotic, unreliable, mad woman. Ultimately, the fact that the Governess does not seem to fufil the traditional role of the narrator: re-telling the story clearly. She seems to be involved to suggest to us that our perceptions are unreliable and that the truth is hard to obtain, rather than merely describing as the reader has come to expect from narrators. This appears to be the main theme of the story and is its most intruiging aspect, giving it its origionality and individuality. Therefore, the narrators role in 'The Turn of the Screw', is abundantly important and significant. 1,301 Words. Harry Morgan ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    He finds himself envious of those "whole" men he sees, men who can live independently and without pity. The English patient has likewise been visibly transformed by the war. Having literally lost his entire identity, he is alive only to reflect on the life he once had.

  2. Comparing the Role of Women in Sense and Sensibility and Othello

    Also, her tone in this quote, it seems that Emilia is clueless as to why Iago wants the handkerchief so badly. Iago had the power to make everyone around him see only what he wants them to see, thereby not making them suspicious of what he is doing.

  1. Rather than being a flaw of The Cement Garden, ambiguity of character and authorial ...

    colloquial narrator (perhaps tempting us to confuse it with McEwan's voice in the novel, thus compromising Jack's realism as a character). This inability to evaluate is reflected, for instance, when Jack found ' a nest of [his mother's] hair floating in the toilet', or 'watched Julie in the evenings' without

  2. 19th Century Mystery Stories Coursework

    "There were two big mirrors in the room..." Mirrors are very common in horror, mystery and ghost stories and are usually associated with seeing ghosts and other creatures. A lot of times characters are seen as seeing ghosts in the mirror, to turn around find nothing behind them, this is one of the most common tricks of the trade and is used to a good degree of success.

  1. Short Stories Comparison - The Company of Wolves By Angela Carter And Eveline By ...

    that leads to her constant internal conflict, she allows the complexities of life to run over her. Whereas "Little Red Riding Hood" is a strong-minded girl perhaps even over indulged by her parents and grandmother. She is described as beautiful and virginal and "afraid of nothing" whereas the impression given

  2. Opinion on To Kill a Mockingbird and Ghosts of Mississippi

    I couldn?t really get to know a lot of the supporting roles in the movie. For example, I didn?t get to know Mr. Delaughter?s kids. I can?t even remember their names. Their main role in the film was to bring out Mr.

  1. How important is the role of the outsider, in terms of plot development and ...

    and ?the bogies?(TD p6) are not part of ?T?s vocabulary. This is a subtle but useful method of separating characters, enabling the author to structure the plot, denoting different class and status within a microcosm. We are given an insight into ?T?s background and his slightly higher class status when

  2. Analysis of Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of OZ

    Wendy is a girl very responsible. Both Peter Hook love her as a mother, for her talent for storytelling and for his great love and sensitivity. After returning home, she stays in the house of his parents after the adoption of lost children. Officially has a daughter named Jane.She wishes live adventures with Peter Pan in Neverland.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work