Reality of the Blye Ghosts

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  • Topic: Henry James, Ghost, Ghost story
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  • Published : March 11, 2013
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January 25, 2012

Reality of the Blye Ghosts
Around a fireplace sit eager ears, hungry for the most exciting and creepy stories available to the human imagination. Christmas eve in England annual include stories full of ambiguity, frightening characters and most importantly of all, ghosts. Henry James wrote a tale that would be perfect to tell in this setting. His novel, Turn of the Screw is the quintessential ghost story. He includes all the necessary elements, but perhaps his best talent is in creating ambiguity. Fro some readers it is not exactly clear whether or not the governess is clinically insane or if the ghosts that haunt Blye are real. However, James does provide enough information to prove that the ghosts are real and not imagined by giving details confirmed by the housekeeper, showing the children’s relationship with them, and finally, in Miles’ death.

The details the narrator observes pertaining to the ghosts that are confirmed by the maid provides evidence that the ghosts are not merely a figment of the narrator’s imagination. She describes the ghost as having “very read, close-curling” hair with a “pale face, long in shape, with straight good features and little rather queer whiskers that are as read as his hair” (James 104). She adds that he is dressed in “smart [clothes], but they’re not his own” (104). Such extensive accounts of their clothes, hair, and features are not likely to be a result of her overactive imagination. When the maid recognizes the account, she exclaims that the man is Peter Quint, confirming that the vision she has seen was a real person. It is highly improbable that a visage of the narrator’s paranoia would match so perfectly with what the housekeeper described. The ghosts then had real names and real histories that corresponded to what the narrator is observing.

In addition, the actions of the children serve to show that the ghosts are real. It is revealed that in a past life, the ghosts had rather intimate...
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