Sexual Repression in Turn of the Screw

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The Victorian Age was a time of moral behavior and ideas. Sexuality had no place with the norms and mores of society, yet as it is part of human nature, it continued to exist. With sex being a topic so repressed during the period, people took anything not specified in sexual connotations. Realizing this, the authors of the time used this to their advantage and laid a heavy underlying sexual atmosphere as a basis for their stories. Henry James does just that in his Turn of the Screw. Though never directly stating so, his main character suffers from sexual repression that came along with her position in the Victorian age and eventually acts upon it, while the ghosts in the story then serve as protection for the children she acts out upon. The new governess, whose name we are never told throughout the novel, is held in a strange position in society. As a governess, she was part of the middle class yet she was a source of temptation for the master while being held to the strictest of behavioral guidelines herself since she dealt with children. However, in this case, the governess has an obsession for the master of the house. The master was "a figure as had never risen, save in a dream or an old novel, before a fluttered, anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicage" (p. 4). However, after taking the job as the governess of the Bly household, she never sees this man again, despite her being in love with him. As the author notes, "that's the beauty of her passion," she is able to love him without ever really knowing or seeing him. This is where her sexual repression is derived from. She is in love with a man above her social class whom she should not be with and yet she continues to desire him even after she realized they will never see each other. This pent up sexual frustration causes her to act out in a strange manner. The governess seems to have sexual attitudes towards Flora, the niece of the man she is in love with. This is evident upon the very...
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