Psychosexual Problem of Governess in “the Turn of the Screw”¬¬¬

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Psychosexual problem of governess in “The Turn of the Screw”¬¬¬ The Turn of the screw by Henry James is regarded as one of the most fascinating psychological thrillers of all time. Published in the late nineteenth century, this novella sets up a narrative story of a young lady who appears to have seen the ghost of the former dead employers of the place where she was working. In this novella Henry James combined drama, suspense, and mystery to make it one of the most preferred stories among the readers of all generations. The Turn of the Screw raises many questions, however: Is the governess going crazy? Is she really seeing the phantoms of those dead former state workers? Is she innocent? Is she the villain or the heroine of this story? Or is it her sexual hysteria that leads to the hallucination of the ghost of the people whom she has never seen in her life? These sorts of questions arise among its readers and critics, setting up a platform to approach the novella’s themes in different ways. “The governess who sees the ghost, is neurotic and sexually repressed, and the ghosts were merely symptoms of her state---not real ghosts, but only hallucination”(Waldock 332) So, the actual reason behind the governess’s hallucination of the “ghosts” most reasonably involves her psychological problems and approaching it by this point of view is far more logical considering it supernaturally: her young age, her sexual regression in the Victorian era, her background, her lack of experience in the job, her affection toward her master, and even toward Miles are the reasons behind her to have this hallucinations and emerging insanity. In this novella, James tried to show the “dramatization of the woman’s psychosexual problem” (Renner 175). He pictures various scenes in the story which showed the governess sexual frustrations. The reason why it’s called a “psychosexual problem” might be the interrelationship between her sexual frustrations and its impact on her psychology. When the governess applied for her job, for instance, she was highly attracted to her master who was good looking, attractive, rich, and was full “of charming ways with women” (James 4). During the Victorian age, and because she was a country person’s daughter, she likely was still a virgin and her encounter with such a dashing man might have sexually aroused her, just as her modest country background influenced her seduction by his wealth and property. When the governess started her job, she was never in contact with her master as he told her that she should “never trouble him… neither complain nor write” (James 6). This stimulates both sexual frustration and anticipation in her as “her relation with the master is developed no further then school girlish crush” (Reed 418). Throughout the story these elements disturbed her and drove her crazy. So what is the reality behind ghost? She might be pretending or it can be just her psychological hallucination. Is her madness going to hamper the psychology of the children? If we say it’s only her hallucination, how can she explain the feature of the man and women whom she had never seen in her life? These questions might ring in every reader’s head. After she started her job at Bly, she never was able to leave while employed there, thus her sexual desires were further repressed, especially as she lived beneath the roof of the master’s possessions and his wealth, yet she was never able to express her feeling towards him. After hearing that the former governess of that place was dead, there might have been several questions going in her mind, particularly “what did the former governess die of?”(James 5) Or whether there was any relationship between the former governess and her master? Such questions likely further disturbed her and stimulated both her sexual anxiety through jealousy and her hysteria that further influenced her imagination of the ghosts, especially of Miss Jessel. Also for her to...
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