Henry James' The Turn Of The Screw

1719 words - 7 pages

Henry James' The Turn of the Screw

Peter G. Beidler informs us that there have been “hundreds” of analyses of Henry James’ spine-tingling novella, The Turn of the Screw (189). Norman Macleod suggests that James himself seems to be “an author intent on establishing a text that cannot be interpreted in a definite way” (Qtd in Beidler 198). Yet, the vast majority of analyses of The Turn of the Screw seem to revolve around two sub-themes: the reality of the ghosts and the death of Miles both of which are used to answer the question of the governess’s mental stability: is she a hero or a deranged lunatic? As Beidler points out, “It is an amazingly fine creepy, scary, soul-shuddering ghost story or, alternatively, it is an amazingly fine psychological case study of a neurotic young woman” (189). These two views of the governess seem to dominate the analytical world in terms of readings, typically being one view or the other and seldom being anything else. Unfortunately, most of the myriad readings focus only on the visible events as related by the governess. However, there is much that we are not told but that is pertinent to an accurate reading. Bruce Fleming argues that what we are not told in The Turn of the Screw is as important as what we are told (135). Wolfgang Iser suggests that there are “gaps” or holes within the sequence of the text. He further suggests that it is the reader’s responsibility to fill-in those gaps (Qtd in Beidler 226). The facts “not in evidence” are equal in importance to the information laid out before us. What happens “off-screen” or “off-stage” is just as important as what happens in front of the audience. Much of what we do not see and are not told impacts what we do see and are told so greatly that without the “off-stage” events, the “on-stage” events become exponentially more confusing. In other words, knowing that the events of The Turn of the Screw are given us from the perspective of human memory, which is fallible, is as important as the events unfolding within the story itself. This paper will argue that what we are told is from the perspective of the governess’s memory; subsequently, the events and information we are given become fallible, and suspect; therefore, the sanity and subsequent culpability of the governess cannot be proven from the text.

Note how Douglas introduces the manuscript from the governess: “It is in old faded ink and in the most beautiful hand” (James 24, italics added). No doubt, the penmanship of the governess was once vivid and clear; but, age has a natural tendency to cause that which is vivid to fade and become illegible. Referring first to his knowing the governess and second to the experience itself, Douglas tells us, “It was long ago, and this episode was long before” (James 24). The narrator in the prologue declares, “Let me say here distinctly, to have done with it, that this narrative, from an exact transcript of my own made much later, is what I...

Find Another Essay On Henry James' The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

718 words - 3 pages The Turn of the Screw This novel was, surprisingly, interesting. The intensely complex and intricate (if not confusing!) sentences, upon first thought, made me expect an experience of complete, utter, and total confusion; however, they served not only to keep my interest in the novel – for I had to concentrate to grasp the full, rich meaning of his thoughts – but also to create in me a sense of enjoyment, that of being enriched with the

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

1771 words - 8 pages The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is a gothic novel about two kids verses their governess, who is possibly experiencing the supernatural or who is insane. How is she insane one might ask? There is a controversy between the governess actually experiencing the supernatural and the kids are aware of it or the governess is completely insane. In the beginning of the novel, the two kids, Flora and Miles, were introduced as these unusual kids. Flora

Turn of the screw by henry jam

1111 words - 4 pages Turn of the Screw by: Henry James After reading "The Turn of the Screw", by Henry James, I was left with many unanswered questions. The two main questions are, are the ghosts in the story real, or are they just figments of the narrator's imagination? When I read though the essays of criticism, I took a stand on one particular argument. I took a stand that supports the argument that the ghosts are real.In this story we see many strange things

Marxist Interpretation of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

797 words - 3 pages OPINION: GHOSTS REAL Interpreting The Turn of the Screw by Henry James from a Marxist point of view brings about serious social class distinctions and consequences of violation within that code. Miles and the unnamed Governess’ relationship demonstrate the wrongdoing of social and legal norms. The Governess’ indeterminate social status leave her as a forbidden woman in Victorian society taking on the role of primary caretaker to children

Youth by Henry James and The Turn of the Screw by Joseph Conrad- Vanderbilt

1163 words - 5 pages Two Youths, Two TonesYouth is the most important time in a person's life. What happens during that time shapes what you will be like for the rest of your life. This small fraction of time serves as the core of what the rest of life is based around and is, for many, the best part life. In Youth by Henry James and The Turn of the Screw by Joseph Conrad, there are two main characters in the prime of their lives. The positions of responsibility

Gender Criticism and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

1556 words - 6 pages Gender Criticism and The Turn of the Screw The Turn of the Screw by Henry James continues to stir up an immense amount of controversy for such a short novel. Making a definite, educated decision on the actual truth considering the countless inquiries that develop while reading this story proves more difficult than winning a presidential election. That being understood, taking one particular side on any argument from a close reading of the story

Is Henry James' The turn of the Screw a traditional ghost story?

1386 words - 6 pages Is Henry James' The turn of the Screw a traditional ghost story? Ghost stories are found way back in history, some dating back to the Victorian times. The Victorians were known to be greatly interested in ghosts and the supernatural and showed this fascination through telling ghost stories. The telling of ghost stories was used as a way of entertainment especially around Christmas time and it was also very common for upper class

Ambiguous Issues: Throughout the Turn of the Screw by Henry James

1965 words - 8 pages Throughout The turn of the Screw by Henry James, the theme of ambiguous issues is constantly leaving the reader on their own. The ambiguity and uncertainty within this text causes the readers to come up with their own theories as to what the text really means. The ghost story perspective only adds to the infuriating vagueness. The title itself is about all of the twists within this story and basically foreshadows the confusion that the text

Finding Meaning in The Turn of The Screw, by Henry James

3015 words - 12 pages     At first glance, Bly appears to be a rather lonely place. The vividly bleak backdrop for The Turn of the Screw houses a handful of servants, two orphaned children, and ghosts who fade in and out of view. But there are others present who are less obtrusive yet just as influential as Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. Peering into and out of Bly's windows and mirrors, engaging with the text and the lingering trace of author Henry James, a

The major themes, ideas, and characterisations between Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" and Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands"

1520 words - 6 pages At first glance, it would appear that Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" and Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" have only one thing in common: they are both from the gothic genre. But upon looking closer, one will notice that there are a number of other similar traits between the two. There are noticeable similarities between Edward and the Governess, as well as similarities between Edward and the two children in The Turn of the Screw, Miles

Comparing Henry James's The Turn of the Screw and Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat

1748 words - 7 pages Name Institution Assignment Date LIBRARY COMPARISON Introduction There are many differences and similarities that occur between The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and The black cat by Poe. These differences happen due to their themes, character list and the motif. The two books are similar in their literary device in the use of first person narration. DIFFERENCES Themes The two novels has different themes. Themes are messages the writer

Similar Essays

Turn Of The Screw By Henry James

1106 words - 4 pages Turn of the Screw by: Henry James After reading 'The Turn of the Screw';, by Henry James, I was left with many unanswered questions. The two main questions are, are the ghosts in the story real, or are they just figments of the narrator's imagination? When I read though the essays of criticism, I took a stand on one particular argument. I took a stand that supports the argument that the ghosts are real. In this story we see many strange things

The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James

1765 words - 7 pages How far does The Turn of the Screw conform to the conventions of the Victorian ghost story genre? What alternative interpretations does it lend itself to? ‘The Turn of the Screw’ was written by Henry James in the nineteenth century, when the belief that living people were in contact with the dead was prevalent. In the Victorian era the advance of science was undermining religious beliefs, because evolutionists were saying that the

The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James

2509 words - 10 pages Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw is a metacritical novella that has caused a plethora of debates among critics over decades of time since 1898 due to the multiplicity in perceptions in regards to the connection between the frame and the narrative. These discussions revolved around the pivotal notion of the ghosts and their existence in the home of Bly, which, when established, serves as a basis for the interpretation of the role of the frame

Contradiction In The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James

1079 words - 4 pages The Turn of the Screw, a ghost story novella by Henry James, was first published in 1898. It is described as a masterpiece in storytelling, and because of how it creates an atmosphere of terror; it is considered a central text in the horror genre. The story is about a guest named Douglas reading to other guests a story from a written record. An unknown narrator remembers some friends gathering at an old house to listen to one another’s ghost
Dancing for the Badman (Russian Bratv | Norskov (20) | Mission Impossible Collection 1996-2015 1080p BluRay Remux-MIXED