The Turn of the Screw:
A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by F. Dupee, Henry Holt and Co. I do not know who first propounded the theory; but Miss Edna Kenton, whose insight into James is profound, has been one of its principal exponents, and the late Charles Demuth did a set of illustrations for the story based on this interpretation.
According to this theory, the young governess who tells the story is a neurotic case of sex repression, and the ghosts are not real ghosts at all but merely the hallucinations of the governess.
Let us go through the story from the beginning. It opens with an introduction. He is charming to her and lets her have the job on condition that she will never bother him about the children; and she goes down to the house in the country where they have been left with a housekeeper and some other servants.
The boy, she finds, has been sent home from school for reasons into which she does not inquire but Turn of the screw critical essays she colors, on no evidence at all, with a significance somehow sinister. She learns that the former governess left, and that she has since died, under circumstances which are not explained but which are made in the same way to seem ominous.
She is alone with the illiterate housekeeper, a good and simple soul, and the children, who seem innocent and charming. As she wanders about the estate, she thinks often how delightful it would be to come suddenly round the corner and find that the master had arrived: She is never to meet her employer again, but what she does meet are the apparitions.
Not long afterward, the figure appears again, toward the end of a rainy Sunday. She sees him at closer range and more clearly: The housekeeper, meeting the governess immediately afterward, behaves as if the governess herself were a ghost: The governess believes that he has come back to haunt the children.
Not long afterward, she and the little girl are out on the shore of a lake, the little girl playing, the governess sewing. The latter becomes aware of a third person on the opposite side of the lake.
This second morsel, as I watched her, she was very markedly and intently attempting to tighten in its place. The housekeeper tells her that her predecessor, though a lady, had had an affair with the valet.
The boy used to go off with the valet and then lie about it afterwards. The governess concludes that the boy must have known about the valet and the woman—the boy and girl have been corrupted by them. Observe that there is never any real reason for supposing that anybody but the governess sees the ghosts.
She believes that the children see them, but there is never any proof that they do. The housekeeper insists that she does not see them; it is apparently the governess who frightens her. There seems here to be only a single circumstance which does not fit into the hypothesis that the ghosts are hallucinations of the governess: And when we look back, we see that even this has been left open to a double interpretation.
The apparitions now begin to appear at night, and the governess becomes convinced that the children get up to meet them, though they are able to give plausible explanations of their behavior.
The housekeeper tells the governess that she ought to report these phenomena to the master, if she is so seriously worried about them. After this, for a considerable period, the visions no longer appear.
The children become uneasy: The boy finally asks her frankly when she is going to send him to school, intimates that if he had not been so fond of her he would have written to his uncle long ago about her failure to do so, threatens to write him at once.
This upsets her; she thinks for a moment of leaving, but decides that this would be deserting them. She is apparently now in love with the boy. She tells the housekeeper, who looks at her oddly, that the soul of the former governess is damned and wants the little girl to share her damnation.
When he demands to go back to school, she embraces him and begs him to tell her why he was sent away; appealing to him with what seems to her desperate tenderness but what must seem queer and disquieting to the child, she insists that all she wants is to save him.
There is the sudden gust of wind—it is a windy night outside—the casement rattles, the boy shrieks. She has been kneeling beside the bed: For her, it has been the evil spirit disputing her domination. It does not occur to her that the boy may really have blown the candle out in order not to have to tell her with the light on about his disgrace at school.Nov 18, · in Turn of the screw critical essays on oedipus.
November 18, Turn of the screw critical essays on oedipus.
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The Turn of the Screw Henry James. American novelist, short story writer, essayist, critic, biographer, autobiographer, and playwright. The following entry presents criticism on James's novella. In , ten years after the first publication of The Turn of the Screw as a serial in Collier’s Weekly, Henry James wrote that he considered the .
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