No matter if we read Henry James¡¦s The Turn of the Screw for fun or for a serious purpose, we all seem to undergo the search for Peter Quint and Miss Jessel ourselves as the governess depicts her own story. That is, the existence of the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw has always been in debate. Instead of directly discussing whether the ghosts are real or not, here in this paper, attention will be drawn to the reliability of the governess, the narrator of the story. After making a close examination of her state of mind while she is at Bly, readers of The Turn of the Screw will have many more clues to ponder again and to decide to what extent the governess can be believed. While critics like Heilman argue that there are problems with the interpretation that the governess was psychopathic, textual evidence incorporated with scientific research show that the governess did go through a period of psychical disorder that caused her insomnia, out of which she created hallucinations.In the prologue, Douglas gave a detailed account of the master from the governess¡¦s point of view. She regarded him as ¡§handsome and bold and pleasant, off-hand and gay and kind; he struck her¡¨ (James 4).
Later on we learn from Douglas that the governess accepted the job at Bly for the master¡¦s sake, and of course the generous salary offered by the master. Without any experience, the governess¡¦s passions for the master supported her to accept the job and confirmed her decision to take the challenge even though she feared not having the ability to accomplish the job. ¡§The moral of which was of course the seduction exercised by the splendid young man. She succumbed to it¡¨ (James 5).
Type of Work:Early psychological thriller SettingEngland; nineteenth century Principal CharactersThe “governess,” an unnamed twenty- year-old womanMrs. Grose, an older housekeeperFlora, an eight-year-old girlMiles, a ten-year-old boy Story OverveiwAt Christmas time, a group of people in an old country home swapped ghost stories. One story tl)at particularly chilled tl-te group involved the ...
With the love for the master, the governess had the courage to visit the master again and eventually took the job. ¡§He held her hand, thanking her for the sacrifice, she already felt rewarded¡¨ (James 6).
Her obsession with the master was somehow repressed owing to the absence of the master and the condition that he could not be bothered under any circumstances.According to Douglas¡¦s description, the governess was ¡§the youngest of several daughters of a poor country parson, had at the age of twenty, on taking service for the time in the schoolroom, come up to London, in trepidation¡¨ (James 4).
The governess was young and inexperienced. Douglas described the governess as ¡§young, untried, nervous¡¨ (James 5).
The work at Bly was her first experience as a governess. The idea of playing the dominant role at Bly may have scared her because in her whole life, she had never had the opportunity to play that kind of role in her family. Moreover, as a parson¡¦s youngest daughter, she had little experience of the world, the grandeur of the villa impressed her as she felt upon seeing it: ¡¨The scene had a greatness that made a different affair from my own scant home¡¨ (James 7).
Heller explains:The governess is worried about her responsibility from the beginning. At twenty she is barely an adult herself. The youngest of several children of a poor country parson, she has never seen the kind of life over which she must now rule alone, has never had a large bed, an expansive view, perhaps not even a room of her own. She has never seen herself full length in a mirror before. She wonders whether she can rise to the responsibility of directing the care of two children in such an establishment. (55)Ever since the governess arrived at Bly, her spirit had been kept in a state of alert. There were a lot of new things thrown in that struck her. In an actual example, a 19-year-old male college student suffered from insomnia ever since he left home to live at school. Doctors suggested that the therapy should focus on his mixed feelings about leaving home. (Kellerman 115) The governess was very much likely to go through what this college student had experienced since the huge mansion at Bly astonished her. She was trying to adjust to her new life in that grand mansion, learning to exercise the authority that she knew little about, and possibly overcoming the fear inside her.
We must safeguard children and young people as they are unable to protect themselves alone and are far more vulnerable to things such as abuse and neglect than adults are. It is our duty of care to protect children and young people from physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and neglect. We must be able to identify early on the signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect before the ...
Young and inexperienced, the governess was overwhelmed by the new environment and the new duties that led her to several sleepless nights. Historically, the governesses during the Victorian era were treated as servants by their employers but they were also not of the servants¡¦ rank, either. The servants regarded the social rank of the governesses to be higher than theirs and thus it was hard for the governesses to socialize with the servants. The governesses were usually left in a state of isolation in the employer¡¦s household. As to the governess in The Turn of the Screw, she was given supreme authority and at the same time, she carried the responsibility for the house and the two little children. She was put in a situation in which no one was at the same social status as her and no one could be her real company. Her supreme authority in some way even distanced her from the rest of the people at Bly, leading her to a position of solitude and fear. Douglas also described in the prologue that ¡§it was a vision of serious duties and little company, of really great loneliness¡¨ (James 5).Since the governess was the youngest in her family, an assumption can be made that she was always treated as a child and she might not have had a chance of her own to take care of little children.
When she saw Flora, she thought that Flora was ¡§the most beautiful child she had ever seen,¡¨ (James 7) and she was too excited to sleep the first night at Bly. And what is even more, she fantasized hearing the cry of a child and a light footstep. ¡§I had fancied I heard. There had been a moment when I believed I recognized, faint and far, the cry of a child; there had been another when I found myself just consciously staring as at the passage, before my door, of a light footstep¡¨ (James 8).When Miles came home from school, she was impressed by him: ¡§what I then and there took him to my heart for was something divine that I have never found to the same degree in any child¡Xhis indescribable little air of knowing nothing in the world but love¡¨ (James 13).
“Refuge of the unfortunate, prisoner release, soft lap of the hopeless, the weary, the bereaved. First and foremost of all the nice features of nature and delight. Happiness coming upon man when anxiety and passion of the day is over. ” Tristram Shandy Introduction The sleep state is defined as a reversible behavior accompanied by a perception disconnection state (Patrick Ealy. – ...
The governess was so much struck and convinced by Miles¡¦s angelic image that she did not know what to do about the letter from Miles¡¦s headmaster. The two children amused her and gave her great pleasure that she had not expected. Even so, the letter indeed bothered her. ¡§I had better have let it wait till morning, for it gave me a second sleepless night. With no counsel to take, the next day, I was full of distress (James 10).
The letter from Miles¡¦s school fell upon her to test her ability of handling the authority. She couldn¡¦t figure out what caused Miles to be expelled from the school and also, it surely was a disturbance adding to her on the second day of her new life. The governess took the job at Bly knowing that she would not be able to see the master, however, her obsession with the master haunted her every second. At Bly, the governess made it a habit to wander around outside, taking a walk in the afternoon whenever she had her own time. She longed to see the master in her walk. She claimed to see some man that she first thought to be the master on the top of the tower while taking a stroll outside one afternoon: ¡§One of the thoughts that, as I don¡¦t in the least shrink now from noting, used to be with me in these wanderings was that it would be as charming as a charming story suddenly to meet some one¡KI only asked that he should know; and the only way to be sure he knew would be to see it, and the kind light of it, in his handsome face¡¨ (James 15).
The governess¡¦s love for the master was passionate but it was also an unsolved love. This may have had an effect on her state of mind, leading her to some kind of psychical disorder.Tuominen suggests that ¡§sleep provides a restorative process.¡¨ Though not apparently pointed out, it is not too difficult for the readers to perceive that the governess was suffering from a serious problem of insomnia , and thus causing her mental disorder and hallucinations . Before proceeding with the governess, we will refer to Kellerman for a definition of hallucination.The definition of hallucination, generally, is the seeing of something that is not there; for example, severely disturbed patients in mental hospitals who are diagnosed as having acute schizophrenia or other diagnoses of psychosis may, from time to time, report hearing voices speaking to them directly when, in reality, they may have been quite alone. Others may see some apparition such as the figure of a person looming in the distance when no such person is present (56).
According to Kozier et Al. (2002), sleep is the state of being conscious wherein there is a decrease of perception, and reaction to the environment of an individual (p. 953). Sleep exerts physiologic effects on both the nervous systems and other body structures and also it restores normal levels of activity and balance among parts of the nervous systems (p. 956). There are two types of sleep, NREM ...
The governess from the beginning to the end of the story was the only person who asserted that she saw the apparitions. Taking what she went through after arriving at Bly into consideration, the apparitions could be considered as the product of psychical disorder that caused her insomnia.Other research has been done with regard to sleep deprivation. Scientists have found volunteers to stay awake for over four successive days. After the early morning hours of the third night¡KEvidence that the subject experience illusion, incorrect perception of existing objects, and hallucinations, perception of non-existent objects, is observed at this point. Participants report that the surfaces of objects begin to waver or that cobwebs appear on the floor. Often times patients will see faces come and go or experience auditory illusions, like that the sound of running water is actually people talking¡KAfter fourth day of total sleep deprivation, researchers observe delusions in addition to illusion and hallucinations. Participants often show signs of paranoia and suspicion, indicating their belief that events and conversations are going on behind their backs that they are not being told about. They may experience heightened suggestibility, meaning that they are more likely to believe things that they would be less credulous about in a non-sleep deprived state. Symptoms of depersonalization may manifest themselves after the fourth day of deprivation. (Smith)Kellerman also mentioned in Sleep Disorders that ¡§sleep deprivation will even produce bizarre psychotic-like behavior. Auditory and visual hallucinations are effects frequently observed in persons who volunteer to participate in sleep-deprivation studies requiring subjects to stay awake for several days¡¨ (121).
There are many problems concerning what actually happened to the governess when she claimed to see the ghosts. For example, on the night when Miles and Flora plotted together to trick the governess, there was no way for the governess standing in between them in altitude to see Peter Quint talking to Miles on the top of the house. The same problem occurred to the occasion when the governess listened to Miles playing the piano in the house, she could not possibly ¡§sense¡¨ that Flora was with Miss Jessel at the lake. She insisted on knowing something she did not actually see, which were only her hallucinations that could not conceivably be seen. Another illustration of her illusion could be the case in which she told Mrs. Grose that she talked to Miss Jessel but in fact she did not. Neither Peter Quint nor Miss Jessel talked to her. She imagined seeing Miss Jessel sitting at her desk and communicating with her. Knowing that Miss Jessel and Peter Quint had evil intention for the children, if she in truth was able to communicate with them, she would have done something else more than waiting for them to get close to the children. She seemed to be fond of seeing the apparitions as she stayed up all night, wandering around the house searching for Quint and Miss Jessel.
1 d 4 14 d b 1000 The Turn of the Screw: An Analysis of the Reliability of the Governess Kristina Lee The Turn of the Screw: An Analysis of the Reliability of the Governess One of the most critically discussed works in twentieth-century American literature, The Turn of the Screw has inspired a variety of critical interpretations since its publication in 1898. Until 1934, the book was considered a ...
Others¡¦ reaction to the governess can serve as a proof to her madness as well. What Miles actually did at school or with Peter Quint was unknown but Miles decided not to tell anything about his school or Peter Quint for the fear that the governess would get upset. He was only a child of ten years old and it was very natural for him to want to leave the new governess a good impression. Nevertheless, the governess gradually went into a state of madness and Miles could tell that she was afraid of something so he planned the trick with Flora on the governess, trying to prove to her that he could be holding some kind of power and independence while the governess could be weak. The governess¡¦s role in the household was tested and she may well have felt frustrated. Flora and Miles sensed the governess¡¦s unusual attentive watching over them. They hoped for some time to be with themselves but the governess thought of their wish to be as wanting more time to spend with Quint and Miss Jessel. Some people might argue that Mrs. Grose seemed to acknowledge the existence of the apparitions seen only by the governess. We know that Mrs. Grose was an uneducated woman, ¡§there is the danger that she will be too easily led to believe the assertions of an educated gentlewoman placed over her¡¨ (Heller 57).
Meanwhile, we cannot neglect the possibility that Mrs. Grose echoed with the governess only because the governess had the supreme authority given by the master. Being at a lower social rank, Mrs. Grose cannot be the proof of the reliability of the governess. The issue whether the governess was insane or not may never be solved. Not only because critics seem to be able to find as much evidence as possible to prove their arguments but also, the reliability of the account of the governess colors the whole story with great ambiguity. We are not certain of the state of mind of the governess when she wrote down the story and when she related the story to Douglas. However, as we closely examine the state of mind of the governess, her reliability does appear to be a question mark to us. Beidler provided two readings of The Turn of the Screw and in the second one he declared: ¡§the governess saw only what she wanted to see¡¨ (Beidler 9).
... description to Mrs Grose works in defence of the governess' madness as the description is so close to that of Peter Quint that it ... with the ghosts. It is also very possible that the governess killed Miles, I caught him, yes, I held him-it may be ... of this kind. Miles has been abused, mentally and / or physically by Peter Quint. The novel is a ghost story and therefore, you ...
She was so exhausted from her prolonged insomnia that she envisioned a story with ghosts for herself to fulfill her growth as a governess.