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Do you think that Henry James wrote The Turn of the Screw as a ghost story?

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Introduction

Do you think that Henry James wrote The Turn of the Screw as a ghost story? Although The Turn of the Screw may appear to be a ghost story superficially, it can be argued that the governess's visions of what appear to be the ghosts of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel are the result of a number of different occurrences. Alternatively, one may choose to believe that The Turn of the Screw is merely an account of a woman haunted by the spirits of her employer's dead servants. However one chooses to view the book, the origin of each explanation lies in the moral, social, and psychological ideologies of Victorian society. The Victorians were very interested in the supernatural, and many books were written about ghosts in different forms. Gothic novels in particular became very popular, and these, as ghost stories, contained many of the features of The Turn of the Screw - melodrama, the threat to a woman of an intimidating male figure, and the paranormal, to name but a few. In this section, I will attempt to explain how The Turn of the Screw can be seen as a ghost story. ...read more.

Middle

[who] would stand before me and smile and approve'. The phrase 'charming as a charming story' suggests that the governess is blurring fantasy with reality - a common symptom of madness. Also, the simple fact that she is fantasising about meeting a handsome man before she notices Quint suggests that Quint is merely a hallucination brought on by her madness, although the hallucination becomes threatening as a result of her own unconscious sexual desires.were largel Moreover, much of the language used by the governess to describe Quint has sexual connotations - the strongest of these possibly being the description of his position on the tower - "he was in one of the angles ... very erect...". Critics who believe the governess is descending into madness often argue that the tower on which Quint stands is a phallic image - and this argument is backed up by the governess's use of the word 'erect'. After the first appearance of Quint, the governess begins to show further signs of madness - she says that 'agitation had held me and driven me' to pace the gardens for several hours. She also says that 'the shock I had suffered must have sharpened my senses' and that she 'felt sure, at the end of three days and ...read more.

Conclusion

Many of the conversations between Mrs Grose and the governess are riddled with interruptions, making them conducive to misunderstandings. We often see dashes between the sentences of the two women, suggesting that they are completing each other's sentences, although not necessarily correctly. In chapter eighteen, Mrs Grose says 'you leave him-?', and the governess replies 'So long with Quint?' without knowing what Mrs Grose had intended to say. Because of the difference in social status, it would not have been possible for Mrs Grose to correct the governess. In answer to the question 'Do you think Henry James wrote The Turn of the Screw as a ghost story?', I would say that I think the book is purposefully ambiguous, in order to allow the reader to interpret the book in several ways, each as valid as the next. If one chooses to interpret the book purely as a ghost story, it is possible to do so. Similarly, it is possible to interpret the book as a commentary on the social situation of the Victorian era via either the governess's sexual hysteria or the miscommunication created by the governess and her housekeeper. ?? ?? ?? ?? George Adje 11LT Page 1 of 4 12/07/2008 ...read more.

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