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

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


[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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Other Authors 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 GCSE Other Authors essays

  1. Short Story Essay - Chemistry by Graham Swift

    This family is disrupted by the appearance of Ralph. He introduces the themes of loyalty and betrayal. Although it may or may not be intentional he causes the mother to make a choice between him and her father. She 'betrays' her father "You're ruining our meal - do you want to take yours out to your shed?!"

  2. 'No reader of The Woman in Black Can be left in doubt about its ...

    However, these elements are altered to appeal to a more modern audience in the case the castle. Therefore it can be said that Eel Marsh House is an updating of the Gothic Castle. Hill effectively sustains her Gothic genre of Gothic horror of contracting the soul, freezing the faculties and nearly annihilating them.

  1. The Intersection of External Time and Internal Time in Mrs Dalloway

    ." (7) and at the same time she takes note of the present moment, "June had drawn out every leaf on the trees. The mothers of Pimlico gave suck to their young . . . " (7). And she recalls again the past: "For they might be parted for hundreds of years, she and Peter .

  2. A selfish and bitter old woman. To what extent would you agree that ...

    She talks about people behind their backs and criticises them more than ever: "Mary and Diane are two hippies from the maths department". "Bill is the chief offender, a rather ghostly character - the sort of man who is always sitting with his legs aggressively akimbo, offering a clearer silhouette of his untidy crotch".

  1. Examine how James creates the atmosphere and tension of a ghost story in the ...

    He sets the scene by telling us it is Christmas Eve so the reader knows that it's cold and dark outside. These facts fit the conventions of a ghost story. The narrator also says that his tale took place in an old house, just like the one that the group are staying in.

  2. Analyse the ways In which Christophers Father relates to Christopher in "The Curious Incident ...

    This seems to be the case with Father as he continuously swears and lashes out at Christopher. Father swearing may not have a significant effect on Christopher because he doesn?t really understand Father?s emotions. However, Father?s swearing is very bad and it is a sign that Father is damaging their relationship.

  1. The Kite Runner. Vocabulary and Questions

    One of Amir?s constant fears is realized: Hassan emerges as the stronger, better person. Amir cannot tolerate this truth and comes with a plan to make Ali and Hassan leave. Yet his guilt is increases when Hassan admits to stealing the money and watch.

  2. Helen Dunmore tells the story of the Siege of Leningrad by showing the trials ...

    We learn of how everyone is feeling the cold and are suffering from chest infections and pneumonia. Also how everyone is starting to lose energy and stay indoors to conserve heat as each day you get colder and hungrier. Mikhail, Anna?s father tries to help out and volunteers to fight in the People?s Volunteers.

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