Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Essay on The Turn of the Screw: Why The Governess Was Right

The Turn of the Screw

Why The Governess Was Right



                After reading “The Turn of the Screw,” I was left with many questions. Due to the way this book is written, the author gives us a lot of room for interpretations. The hardest question to answer is whether there are any ghosts or not. Is the governess just imagining the ghosts ?  After all, this is the most important question I have to consider. How I read this story will depend on what I think about the existent of these ghosts. Whether the governess is a hero or a danger, it is all up to if the ghost is real or not. After I carefully examine the text, I come to the conclusion that the ghosts are real, and the governess is the protector of the children. There are many passages from the story that support this claim. Moreover, it is even harder to find the reason why there were no ghosts in the story. There are many literal textual evidences that show why the ghosts are there.
                Looking at the first and second encounter between the governess and the ghost of Peter Quint, there are many interesting details in these events. The governess clearly meets the ghost of Peter Quint because she was able to describe him in details to Mrs. Grose. “He has red hair, very red, close-curling, and a pale face, long in shape, with straight, good features and little, rather queer whiskers that are as red as his hair. His eyebrows are, somehow, darker; they look particularly arched and as if they might move a good deal (James 40).” There are some other details that I did not include in this quote such as Peter Quint didn’t wear a hat or that he is clean-shaven (James 40). From all of these details Mrs. Grose was able to tell the governess that the ghost she met was Peter Quint. It is no coincidence that the governess’s description of the ghost is the description of Peter Quint. It is almost impossible for the governess to make things up and got all of this little details correct. Moreover, she never met or heard about Peter Quint before, so if she is hallucinating then it is not likely for her to see some tall, red haired guy who happens to look exactly like Peter Quint. Therefore, it is certain that the governess really saw Peter Quint and she is not imagining things.
                The children in this story also support the claim that there is a really unnatural thing going on at this estate. Both of the children, Miles and Flora, always act very strange. There are many incidents in the story which show that Miles and Flora also saw the ghosts. Not only do they see the ghosts, but the children are probably talking and playing with the ghosts. This is the reason why the governess is trying to protect the children and keep them away from the ghosts. The children might not understand why the governess is doing this because they are still young and they don’t see the harm of playing with ghosts. The ghosts are a real danger to the children, and they are the reason why these children are acting very weird. One night Flora is acting weird and scary. Around one o’clock in the morning Flora was out of her bed and she was hiding around window (James 70). Honestly, I think this is very creepy. If I were the governess, I would be freaked out by this. What kind of girl would act like this? This is no normal girl; something scary is going on with her. Some people might even think that she is diabolical. Furthermore, that night is the night the governess met Peter Quint (James 70). Perhaps, Flora also met Peter Quint or Miss Jessel that night. Or maybe Peter Quint was distracting the governess while Flora was interacting with Misss Jessel. Some might argue that the reason she wasn’t in bed sleeping, is because the governess is loud and she woke up Flora. But if that is the case then why did Flora have to pull down curtain of the bed. Flora’s excuse was that she is looking for the governess, but this is surely a lied. Normally, when I am looking for someone I would yell out their name. So, Flora should have been calling “Governess? Where are you?” However, she did not. There are many more excuses Flora could have come up such as she afraid she will wake people up by yelling. The governess was right for saying “I absolutely believed she lied (James 71).”I also absolutely believe Flora lied. Besides, that wasn’t the last time Flora is up at night looking out the window.
                Not only Flora was acting weird and demonic. Her brother, Miles was too. Maybe Miles was even worse than Flora. There are many mysteries about Miles. Not much is known about why he was kicked out of the school. He only said he told things to the boy he liked. I am suspecting that he was kicked out for acting strange. There is another incident, this time Miles was out in the lawn at night by himself (James 75). This time I can’t even think of any legit reason for Miles to be out in the lawn at night. It could be that Miles is probably doing some abnormal activities that night. The explanation Miles give for this incident was that he planned the whole thing up with Flora, so that he could show the governess that he is bad (James 80). There are many other incidents in the story that will clearly show that the children are corrupted and they are in contact with the ghosts regularly. One night while the governess was talking with Miles, the candle just goes out and Miles said he blew it (James 109). This is something that normal kids wouldn’t do. With all those winds blowing, the setting of the conversation was already scary enough; so no darkness was needed to make it scarier.
                Many people might argue that the reasons these children act so creepy and weird is not because they are seeing ghost but because they don’t have parents and they just needed love. Or some probably said that both of the children have mental health problems. However, if the children really have issues because they needed love, they wouldn’t act so adorable and obedient. Everyone knows that kids who lack loves and cares are aggressive and disrespectful. On the other hand, Miles and Flora are acting like they are good because they are trying to hide something. They are probably hiding the fact that they are always in contact with the ghost of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. These reasons obviously show that the ghosts are really there. Furthermore, the ghosts are being harmful, and the governess is trying to protect the children.
                Next, I want to discuss about another incident which is very interesting. This time the governess was with Flora and Mrs. Grose at the lake. The governess saw Miss Jessel on the opposite bank. Then the governess tries to point out Miss Jessel so that Mrs. Grose could see Miss Jessel too.  However, Mrs. Grose did not see anything. And Flora also said she didn’t see anything (James 199). This is one of the climax points in the story. Since no one else saw the ghost except the governess, then the governess must be crazy and she might imagined this whole thing up. However, just because the governess is the only one who saw the ghost that doesn’t mean that the ghost is not really there. The reason is because sometime ghost only choose to reveal itself to a person and not to everyone. This is why Mrs. Grose did not see Miss Jessel too. That make the situation worse, because now Mrs. Grose is confused and she started to suspect that the governess might be crazy. Not only Mrs. Grose who was confused by this incident, but the reader is also become confused. I become skeptical of the governess’s journal. However, I am sure that Miss Jessel is really there but she only shows herself to the governess or maybe to Flora too. That’s why sometime the reader has to realize that ghosts don’t show themselves to everybody and they have purposes in doing so.
                After carefully looked at the clues and evidences found in the story, I am certain that the governess was not crazy. She wasn’t imagining Peter Quint or Miss Jessel. And many incidents from the story show us that the governess was trying to protect Flora and Miles from the ghosts. However, the story did not end well, Miles died and it seemed like the governess was the person to blame. The governess could not protect all of the children. Nevertheless, the governess did her best and tries to keep the children away from those ghosts. Therefore, even if the governess did not succeed at being the hero of the story, she is also not harming them. She is trying to protect them away from something that is very real even if not everyone can see it. As a result, the ghosts are really there at Bly, and the governess was trying her best to protect the children from those ghosts.

Citation:
James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. Web. 01 Oct 2013
http://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/James/Turn_Screw.pdf
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