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

Uncertainty is an important element of the Gothic genre, how do the uncertainties of "The Turn of the Screw" leave much of the story open to the interpretation?

Extracts from this document...


'He's - God help me if I know what he is!' Uncertainty is an important element of the Gothic genre, how do the uncertainties of "The Turn of the Screw" leave much of the story open to the interpretation? "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James has the potential to be interpreted as either a psychological literary masterpiece, or as a ghost story dreamed up to entertain the masses of Victorian England. Whichever way it is interpreted, it is undoubtedly a true example of the gothic genre. "The Turn of the Screw" started its life as a ghost story told to Henry James in 1895 by the Archbishop of Canterbury. James said the Archbishop told him a "small and gruesome spectral story" that he had been told years before concerning dead servants and children. The tale told to him was not specific in its details, so already an aspect of mystery and uncertainty was introduced to the story, of which he says in his journal where he describes "the mere vague, undetailed, faint sketch of it." The air of uncertainty that hangs over the origins of the tale is augmented by the fact that the Archbishop's source was the friend of a friend, who had no talent for story telling, "being all he had been told (very badly and imperfectly) ...read more.


"...Mrs Grose's dazed blink across to where I pointed struck me as a sovereign sign that she too at last saw..." However, to believe this would be to believe the word of a young woman from a traditionally superstitious background, who is want to fantasies and who holds an unrequited love for her employer, " 'I'm rather easily carried away. I was carried away in London!'" Therefore, although this self-admittance of being "rather easily carried away" throws a heavy cloud of doubt over her claims, there is still an air of uncertainty that is allowed to hover over the existence of the spirits for the entirety of the novel, due to the Governess' certainty that "I was there - I saw with my eyes" and that "They know - it's too monstrous: they know, they know!" The specific language that Henry James employs when describing things that the Governess sees or hears increases the sense of uncertainty in the novel, "...less natural, and not without, but within, that I had fancied I heard. There had been a moment when I believed I recognized, faint and far the cry of a child..." ...read more.


This throws a lot of uncertainty upon his identity, because both of these circumstances would apply for the character of Miles. However, this can be dismissed as either pure coincidence or as Douglas making the tale more real by personalising it. This uncertainty leaves Douglas' identity open to much speculation and personal interpretation, depending on the reader's point of view. I believe that the introduction to "The Turn of the Screw" can be linked to the night when James first had the germ of the tale narrated to him by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Through this theory, the identity of the introduction's narrator can be revealed as being Henry James, but the identity of Douglas still remains unclear. There have been many theories as to the main uncertainty of "The Turn of the Screw", that is the existence of the ghosts, and they all back up their conclusions with substantial evidence from the text. However, it is because of the fact that all of the critics of "The Turn of the Screw" can find evidence as to their sometimes very different theories, which makes the novel so uncertain and inconclusive. It is this ambiguity and mystery that makes "The Turn of the Screw" a principal novel of the Gothic genre. Emily Taylor 11B Mr Tucker English Coursework ...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 British History: Monarchy & Politics 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 British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. How far does The Turn of the Screw conform to the conventions of the ...

    One of the obvious reasons for this, to the reader, is that the Governess did not want anyone to hear her story due to it's hard-hitting content. This reason is made apparent to the reader from the metaphor 'Turn of the Screw', which gives the impression that the story will

  2. The Portrait of a Lady. Discuss James representations of 'places' for women in this ...

    In The American, the money/culture split is defined partly as European/American, but also as male/female. Newman observes, sees, and buys and he is doing so in order to obtain some sign of his material success, some means whereby he will be interpreted and represented to the world.

  1. The governess sees it as her duty to protect Miles and Flora. What do ...

    The governess comes across to have an unbalanced behaviour which doesn't go well with the children. I also think madness links into the fact the governess is hallucinating. I believe the hallucinations have lead the governess to get carried away, which slowly turned her insane and made her very over-protective towards the children.

  2. East of Eden: An Interpretation

    Samuel saw himself as nothing more than any other man he had ever met. He was constantly giving and doing his part to improve society as a whole. He cared for nearly everyone and everything. For his children, Samuel wanted nothing but success and greatness, but at the same time

  1. Personal and Imaginative writing: Ghost Story.

    How the heck was I meant to get there? "Um, I'm not wanting to disappoint anyone here, but how am I meant to get to the window, without turning into Superwoman?" I asked, fearing that they'd think of me as a wimp, or worse, that they'd already worked out a plan, but as it would have been worked out

  2. Hisotyr Coursework

    One of the first reason is that the experience of the 1867 electoral system. This was the fact that there were still many flaws left in the electoral system, as there were still regional imbalances with the south being over represents. There were also irregularities between electorates in different constituencies.

  1. arctic story

    I wish that he had turned back. I suppose we don't get along because of our difference in personality. He likes science and the technical side of things and I prefer the more literate side of things. I never really took to factual subjects.

  2. Examine how Ackroyd presents ideas of originality in the novel 'Chatterton'.

    The fact that there is a similarity, clarifies the fact that this face may well be Chatterton due to the fact that of recent he stated "My face, but not myself. I am to be Thomas Chatterton, not George Meredith" of course referring to the fact that he is posing for Wallis' piece.

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