How Is Suspense Created in Turn of the Screw?

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“How is suspense created in The Turn of the Screw?”

The Turn of the Screw is a very suggestive and highly ambiguous story. Its suspense and horror is generated primarily by what is not said and what isn’t shown. Because of the vague and very mysterious story, the viewer is compelled to fill in the blanks from his/her own personal fears. The audience ultimately conjures up a more horrifying set of images and circumstances.

The story is set in the 1840’s, in a country home in Essex, England. The protagonist is a governess who is introduced to us when she first speaks to the two children’s guardian. Immediately the viewers sense something is wrong when the guardian reveals his true feelings about the children, Flora and Miles. He wants absolutely nothing to do with them. You would assume that the Guardian would be much more sympathetic to his niece and nephew, when they are in such a sad situation. His sexually suggestive attitude to the governess also creates discomfort. He says to her repeatedly “-----“.

The viewer is forced to wait for the story. The suspense is already there after meeting with the Guardian. Suspense continues to build as the Governess finds out about numerous mysteriously dead people. The children's parents, their former governess and Quint all died before the new governess was hired. All those dead people set the reader up for a disturbing tale, the telling of which is delayed to keep the viewer interested. To add to the build up, people like Mrs Grose and Luke are always hesitant to give a straight answer. Obviously they are not comfortable sharing what they know.

The Governess is introduced to Flora and she is charmed by the little girl. Only when her older brother Miles returns from boarding school, is when she suspects that something is not right with the children. The first thing that makes the Governess uneasy, is when she receives an ominously vague letter from Miles’ principal on why he was sent home. Although at the...
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