Essay, Research Paper
The Turn of the Screw
Henry James The Turn of the Screw is an incredibly complicated and hard to understand story; it hints at much, but explains little. The fact that the story is open to so many interpretations is, in some ways, the point of the story. The Turn of the Screw is a classic example of the Gothic novel, which depends on a sound concept of evil. The Turn of the Screw can also be considered a good example of an allegorical tale because many of the characters represent greater causes, struggles, or forces.
In an allegorical interpretation of The Turn of the Screw, the story is really a morality play. The classic struggle between good and evil are symbolized throughout the story and, unlike many other stories that depend on a balance of the opposite forces of good and evil, Henry James actually experiments by joining the forces rather than keeping them separate. The garden at Bly can be seen as the Garden of Eden, a place of refuge and perfection, but also temptation. Miles and Flora can be seen as innocent children who are trapped between the forces of good and evil; their youth further expands the view of their original innocence. Quint and Miss Jessel can be seen as the Devil; they are out to win the souls of the innocent and bring them from their natural goodness into a state of evil. The Governess is a Christ-like character who represents goodness in the story. The Governess serves as a protector of the children from the evil forces and serves as a mediator.
The Turn of the Screw follows a common pattern used in describing the struggle between good and evil. In the Garden of Eden, Bly, two innocent children, Miles and Flora, are trapped between two opposing forces. Quint and Miss Jessel are out to win their souls for the Devil, and the governess is there to save and protect them. By the end of the story, the fall has occurred, but the governess is able to save Miles at the last minute and expel the evilness from him. Although he ultimately dies, goodness has prevailed.
The Turn of the Screw is an intensely complicated story that is subject to countless interpretations. A simple allegorical interpretation can show the classic struggle between the forces of good and evil with goodness finally winning, but only begins to scratch the surface. The most notable difference between this story and other allegorical tales exploring the same subject is James willingness to unite good and evil instead of keeping them exclusive opposites. Because of its complexity, simply classifying The Turn of the Screw as an allegorical morality tale does not do justice to the book. In the book s simplest form, that classification is correct.