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'In "The Turn of the Screw" the supernatural is the manifestation of chaos and disruption.' Discuss.

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Introduction

Coursework 'The Supernatural is the manifestation of chaos and disruption.' Discuss 'The Turn of the Screw' is a novel in which the supernatural is one of the most prominent themes, notable in the apparitions of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. The imagery used by the Governess in her narration helps to augment the feeling of supernatural elements in the novel and the fear exhibited by her when she sees the ghosts is most convincing: "Then again I shifted my eyes - I faced what I had to face." Despite the clarity with which the ghosts appear in 'The Turn of the Screw', what makes the novel more compelling is the question of why this element of the supernatural appears in this story. In Victorian times it was considered that ghosts appeared when a person's death occurred under chaotic circumstances, or when their life had been immoral. When considering the lives of Jessel and Quint and the references to their death it is worth surmising this as a credible explanation for their appearances. However, there is perhaps more evidence suggesting that the supernatural manifests itself as a result of the chaos and disruption in the mind of the Governess, a girl from modest backgrounds, who in coming ...read more.

Middle

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the ghosts of Quint and Jessel manifest moral and social chaos and disruption. Despite this, it remains more convincing that this chaos and disruption exists in the mind of the governess rather than in the behaviour of Quint and Jessel. By accepting the job at Bly, the Governess is able to promote herself to a level in the social hierarchy which she has previously not enjoyed. As Millicent Bell alludes to in his text 'Class, Sex and the Victorian Governess: James's The Turn of the Screw', the position of governess was one of a 'peculiar social position.' The position of governess was in its very definition disruptive, with Bell highlighting that the governess was a 'woman burdened with the task of upholding...the "Victorian" domestic ideal.' The governess was a "lady in the nineteenth-century sense of the word, yet anomalously earning her own living.' Described as an 'anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicarage,'through her new role she is able to acquire 'supreme authority.' However, with this new level of responsibility, the governess is also given many freedoms which she has not previously experienced. ...read more.

Conclusion

This can certainly be viewed as an attempt by Quint to climb the social hierarchy, particularly in the eyes of the governess, who is disgusted by Quint's transgression of class boundaries through his supposed affair with Jessel. A Freudian reading would suggest that this disapproval results from a reversal of affect1; Quint, as a projection of the Governess' id2, represents her repressed desire to climb the social hierarchy in an attempt to get closer to the master. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the element of the supernatural in 'The Turn of the Screw' is the manifestation of chaos and disruption. Whether this supernatural element of the novel though is due to the disorderly nature of the characters of Quint and Jessel and their interaction, or the confused state of mind apparent in the Governess, is difficult to decide conclusively. 1 A 'reversal of affect' 3 essays of sexuality p.59, where pleasure becomes displeasure and desire becomes disgust, allows a repressed sexual impulse to be disguised. 2 Jarvis, Russell and Gorman 'angles on psychology' p.142, the id refers to the instinctive aspect of the personality, present from birth. It operates on the pleasure principle - a desire to be satisfied, and it does not willingly tolerate delay or denial of its wishes. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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