Turn Of The Screw

– Real Ghosts? Or Not? Essay, Research Paper

In the short story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, what is seen may not necessarily be the truth. This raises the important question, “Are these ghosts real or just seen through the eyes of the governess?” There are many pieces of information in the story that lead the reader to believe these ghost are real, but at the same time there are others that question the truth, and I adjure you to believe. Through careful reading and studying, however, one will find that these ghosts really existing is the more believable statement.

This is first brought to the reader’s attention in the beginning of the book when the governess, unaware of any ghost meets up with one while she is in the courtyard looking up at a tower. While looking up at the tower the figure is obviously a ghost because, “That’s how I thought, with extraordinary quickness, of each person that he might have been and that he was not.” This being timidity would urge one to read on a chapter or two later when this figure was identified, “I caught it up, ‘you do know him?’ She faltered, but a second ‘Quint!’ she cried.” The character Quint was the master’s ‘right hand man’ so-to-speak, who died when Miles was young. This left most readers in a state of stupefaction. Before Quint died, however, Miles and him became good friends who, although not mentioned how, raised a great deal of trouble. The governess many times throughout the story witnessed Quint. The second time was when she was in the dining room when, “He appeared thus again with I won’t say greater distinctiveness, for that was impossible, but with a nearness that represented a forward stride and made me, as I met him, made me catch my breath and turn cold.” However, the governess was never dismayed. And yet a third time when she was walking on the stairs at night and bumped into him. Most people who hallucinate never keep their calm or see the same thing over and over again as the governess did, this shows how these ghosts are more likely real. Mrs. Grose agrees with the governess as well on who the characters are. It comes to logic when comprehending that the governess saw Quint and she saw him exactly as he is when she never seen him before that it could only be a ghost as opposed to an imaginary person.

The same thing happened again when the governess saw a woman instead. This woman looked exactly as she did, according to the governess, when she was alive. The governess before never saw this woman and her name was Ms. Jessel.

Ms. Jessel was first spotted when the governess and little Flora were next to the lake. When the governess looked to the opposite bank she spotted Ms. Jessel looking at Flora. The governess noticed the woman and tried to keep Flora from doing the same. At the end of book the governess finally felt the power of proof when, “Ms. Jessel stood before us on the opposite bank exactly as she had stood the other time, and I remember, strangely, a thrill of joy having brought on proof.” At this Flora looked and saw nothing, as did Mrs. Grose. Yelling at the governess for making this up Flora never wanted to see her again. This fact promotes that these ghosts that the governess has been seeing are imaginary, but I have a solution. Is it possible that the ghosts are only visible to the governess? Is everyone else pretending not to see the ghosts in a conspiracy? There are so many possibilities that it is up to the reader to decide what is true. I myself say these ghosts were real.

The Turn of the Screw leaves so many loose to get tied up that it has created a great plot, which is as follows. James’ tale of a governess isolated with two orphan children is both haunting and frightening. There are surprising intimations of physical or sexual abuse, and its ambiguity may leave the reader wondering about the very sanity of the narrator. The children, Flora and Miles, enchant the governess, but spooky apparitions about the estate where they are sequestered convince her that supernatural forces are bent on the children’s destruction. Her narration, though, waxes and wanes from convincing to paranoid, leaving much room for inference.

Henry James’ excellent writing skill leaves him with the ability to create numerous lines in which a great deal of conclusions can be drawn. Throughout the story Henry James leaves a tremendous amount of chapters open like this so that it is up to a reader with imagination to create and justify his/ or her own conclusions. What you choose may not necessarily be wrong even if it may seem to be completely different. An example of this is when, “I’ve heard-from that child-horrors!” This leaves many possibilities such as, are the horrors the ghosts or something else? Drawing one’s own conclusions based upon what a reader thinks in joint with the facts is known as inference, and basically that is what the whole story is made up of.

Inference, however, is really tied in with the point of view. For this piece of literary work the point of view, or narrator, is first person. This choice that Henry James made is the only one that made this tale so great. Using first person (I) put everything threw the opinions of the governess. This is why it made the story have so much inference by always leaving the question, “Is it real or how the governess sees it?” This question was played a great deal of times witch left much of the book up to the reader’s imagination, and this is why so many people perceive it differently. If it were any other person the story wouldn’t have such a twist, or turn, turn of the screw that is.

The final piece that really made this story twisted was the setting. The story took place at an estate called Bly. Bly is an old mansion with a great deal of courtyards and a lake. These places always make the perfect settings for ghost stories. The place was seen in it’s grandest when, “I remember as a most pleasant impression the broad, clear front, its open windows and fresh curtains and the pair of maids looking out; I remember the lawn and the bright flowers and the crunch of my wheels on the gravel and the treetops over which the rocks circled and cawed in the golden sky. The scene had a greatness that made my home appear scant.” Of course here the mansion seems so grand like a mansion normally is, but of course it can be scary although it isn’t mentioned in the book.

Throughout The Turn of the Screw many things occurred that shaped this story into a huge inference. The question of ghosts existing will always be a mystery of the story that will only be known by Henry James and that is The Turn of the Screw. However the truth may not be the only truth accepted. From what is told many conclusions can be drawn that maybe even Henry himself could believe. From what you have just read, however, I hope that now, you to, will believe in what I have propound about the ghosts of Bly when reading this piece of great American Literature.


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