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With close attention to content, style and themes, examine the ways that Henry James creates a nineteenth century ghost story in

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Introduction

With close attention to content, style and themes, examine the ways that Henry James creates a nineteenth century ghost story in "The Turn of The Screw" The Turn of The Screw is a classic gothic ghost novella with a wicket twist set in a grand old house at Bly. The story is ambiguous; we never fully know whether the apparitions exist or not and we are left with many more questions than answers. The Governess is left in charge of two young children, Miles and Flora, of whom she later becomes obsessed with, describing them as 'angelic'. She has no contact with her employer from London, the children's enigmatic uncle once there, sparking suspicions of the children being unwanted. The anonymous Governess' obsessive nature is taken to another level, with the darker side of Bly appearing. Her sanity is called into question with her continued revelations of apparitions around the family's country residence. The story itself could not have had a bigger twist in it, from being overwhelmed by the beauty and innocence of the two orphans under he care to being convinced that ghosts of her predecessor and the master's former valet, Miss Jessel and Peter Quint, both who die in mysterious circumstances, have come to possess the souls of her charges. The Governess begins to take ever more desperate measures to protect them, but is it enough? A typical Gothic story in many respects, The Turn of the Screw conforms to our expectations by sharing many key features, style and themes typical to nineteenth century horror fiction. A gothic story is a type of romantic fiction that predominated in English Literature in the last third of the 18th century and the first two decades of the 19th century. The setting for this type of story was usually a ruined Gothic castle or abbey. The Gothic novel, or Gothic romance, emphasized mystery and horror and was filled with ghost-haunted rooms, underground passages and secret stairways. ...read more.

Middle

He gives me a sort of sense of looking like an actor." Miss Jessel was the children's former governess. Like the current governess, she was "mysterious, young and pretty." She seems to have had an affair with Quint and may have gotten pregnant. Miss Jessel died while away for her holiday and may have committed suicide. As a ghost, she appears wearing black and is often mournful. The governess believes that she wants Flora's soul. Other characters which play a significant, albeit less significant part, include the narrator of the prologue, Griffin who tells a short ghost story in the prologue which inspires Douglas to tell his tale and of course Douglas. Douglas was the teller of the Governess' tale at the Christmas Eve gathering mentioned in the prologue. Douglas knew the Governess and he was the only one who had heard the tale of everything that had happened at Bly, from the Governess' own view of course. It is possible that he was in love with the Governess from many years before; he had kept her manuscript in a locked drawer in his home for many decades. Another character, this time actually involved in the happenings at Bly. Luke was a servant, and Luke was expected to deliver the governess's letter to the children's uncle, but he cannot find it. We later found out that Miles took it. Miles uses Luke as an attempted escape route and asks to see Luke before telling the governess what she wants to know. The inhabitation of Bly by these varied characters adds atmosphere to what is a typical gothic story, and a gothic setting will always add atmosphere to the particular story that is appears in. If you read any description of a gothic style story, they will all point out that the setting is one of, if not, the most important feature. A Gothic story is quite likely also to be quite a short story, very popular at the time, meaning that the whole story starts and finishes at the same place. ...read more.

Conclusion

She threatens to leave if Mrs. Grose appeals to the children's uncle on her behalf. The Victorians lived under a strict moral code. The family was the basis of society and they were very uptight and it was not seen as right to show the family in public or any sort of public affection. In The Turn Of The Screw, Henry James satirizes at Victorian social customs and the story is repeatedly ambiguous about the possibility of relationships between characters. The governess' desire of the uncle and the apparent relationship between Miss. Jessel and Peter Quint, are all vaguely drawn to put questions into the readers' minds. You would not consult with people below yourself, and therefore Miss. Jessel and Quint's relationship would have been seen as wrong. The story is only seen from the Governess' point of view and therefore the apparitions may not be true, just part of the Governess' imagination. We can interpret the Governess as being brave and having the best interests of Miles and Flora at heart, protecting them from being corrupted by the supernatural. However, you could say that it is all a figure of her imagination and that something is seriously wrong with her. Taking all of these points into account all of these points, I am sure that you now agree that The Turn of the Screw is a typical 19th century gothic ghost story. The story itself has many characteristics typical of a gothic story and it is based around two apparitions, which is a necessity in any ghost story. Gothic stories were very popular during this period due to Darwin's book, 'The Origin of Species' which hugely questioned Christian beliefs. People were no longer sure of religion, and became very superstitious, with Ghost stories becoming very popular. They had always thought god came first; now science was starting to take over. In the 19th century people were unsure about what was real in the world. The Victorians did not know what to believe about in their world and spirituality. Josh Levy ...read more.

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