February 7, 2013
Spring Essay: Turn of the Screw
Page I: The Governess and Miles
Page II: The Governess and Mrs. Grose
Page III: Corruption of Innocence
Henry James’s Turn of the Screw is the eerie tale of a governess sent to care for two mischievous young children, Flora and Miles. Many people mistake it for a ghost story, but the story actually focuses more on the governess’s relationship with the children. Her thirst for acceptance gradually grows as the story progresses, and she becomes especially fascinated with Miles.
Women have always been viewed as slightly inferior to men; they are depicted as weak and fragile creatures, only serving as a companion for man. They are manipulative and often use charm and looks as methods of persuasion. In Turn of the Screw, the governess ‘s attitude while around Miles is flirtatious and almost inappropriate; and she uses him to fill the void of the children’s beloved uncle whom she lusts for.
The above example of the governess’s craving for Miles’s attention can be easily compared to the behavior exhibited by much of the female population today. Note that the woman is always seeking to please the man, and strives to satisfy and serve him. The attitude of women in the modern world is becoming more and more submissive; almost voluntarily.
Miles’s reaction to the behavior of the unnamed governess is merely compliant, and in some instances of the novel he somewhat encourages her inappropriate behavior. Mrs. Grose, the simpleminded and somewhat slow housekeeper at the estate, represents a middle ground between the mischievous children and whimsical governess. The reader can easily conclude that the governess abuses Mrs. Grose’s quite malleable opinion of the children. In several instances, the governess consults Mrs. Grose and uses her as an outlet for her frustrations with the children. As the governess shares her ghostly encounters with Quint and Miss Jessel, she...