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Henry James started life in a wealthy family. His grandfather was one of the first American millionaires. James' father was a theologian and his brother was a psychologist. In fact, his brother, William James, was the pioneer of psychoanalysis.

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Introduction

Henry James started life in a wealthy family. His grandfather was one of the first American millionaires. James' father was a theologian and his brother was a psychologist. In fact, his brother, William James, was the pioneer of psychoanalysis. Around the time that James wrote 'The Turn of The Screw' (1897), people began to think a lot more about the inner workings of the mind. James seems especially interested in what it is that attracts humans to one another and as to when sexuality begins to shape itself in a child. An example of this is shown in one of his early novels, 'Watch and Ward', in which a bachelor adopts a young girl with an intention to marry her. This is also shown in 'The Turn of The Screw', when Miles kisses the governess. The adversary of the governess, Peter Quint, has sexually abused Miles, continuing this psychological theme. Much of James' work is centred on the innocence of the West and the corruption and wisdom of the East. When Henry James wrote 'The Turn of The Screw', I believe his intention was to create a gripping, thought-provoking piece of fiction to involve the reader. ...read more.

Middle

- Webster's Dictionary This is a reminder of how women were seen and their (expected) role in society at the time the book was written. In relation to 'The Turn of the Screw' being a successful ghost story for a modern audience, it may be slightly outdated and perhaps ill-received in our post-feminist society. Women are no longer seen as people who should only look after domestic matters. However, it can break the 'spell' of the writing if you have to read a sentence twice to get the precise meaning of the writer's idea. This can prevent people from getting involved in the story and if you are not involved, you are not enjoying the story. The imagery is open to interpretation but I believe that if you look at some of James' imagery and can explain it with the first thought that enters your mind, you do not have James' meaning. For instance, when Flora runs off to the lake to be with Miss Jessel and the governess and Mrs. Grose go to fetch her: The lake is a metaphor for Jessel's evil influence and power. The governess is saying that she believes Flora can be saved because Jessel does not have complete control over her yet. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, fantasy books and films are popular, showing there is still an escapist desire in the human psyche, even though more people are educated and we are taught that ghosts do not exist. It seems that television has destroyed this silence and continuity. The story needs to be retold. The haunting effect of a ghost story can now be disrupted more easily because we have electricity, with which comes bright electric lights that can penetrate any unknown shadow. However, if you have a sufficiently romantic mind then the language could help involve you in the atmosphere. Also I think that people could identify with this because there are similar (perceived) dangers today. Peter Quint is a paedophile and what happens in the novel is also the stuff of nightmares for parents in modern times. However, despite these factors, I do not believe that 'The Turn of the Screw' is ultimately a successful ghost story for the modern audience. The situation, language and characters are too alien, yet everyday, to really involve an audience. Technology, science and education deal the final blow, destroying the audience's connection with the heart of the story. Ed Byford In your opinion, is The Turn Of The Screw a 25/04/2007 successful ghost story for a modern audience? ~1~ ...read more.

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