Turn of the Screw

Topics: Henry James, Novel, Leon Edel Pages: 5 (2181 words) Published: February 20, 2011
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is one of those few works that still have its readers talking about its meaning till this day. Did James do this on purpose or was there something more within the context that no reader has yet to pin point the true meaning of the work? The ambiguity of both The Turn of the Screw and James’ personal life is up to debate if there was any correlation with the two to gain a better understanding of what really happened in the novella. There have been many critic reviews of James’ work that want to connect his work with his personal life. While others feel that The Turn of the Screw is just a plain old mystery work with the ability to create your own ideas of what really took place in the novella and nothing more. Points will be stated that James did have a deeper meaning for the work and just that critics have still yet to find that inner meaning. It has become a battle between critics versus James on who is right when it comes to The Turn of the Screw.

The ambiguity with the work itself begins with the main character. A character with no name already brings up a red flag to start off. Simply called the governess, the only thing the reader truly knows about her is that she is from a very small town and highly religious, which may have play a role to events that take people later on in the novella depending on whose interpretation of the novella one reads. Looking at other characters like the children Miles and Flora also shows ambiguity to the overall work as well. Miles and Flora have a very strange and awkward relationship towards one another and with the governess. The situation with Miles getting expelled from his school for reasons unknown. Miles’ relationship with Flora is strange because they never seem to fight with each other anywhere within the text and seem too almost being some form of infatuation with one another. This infatuation also spreads with the governess and her own relationship with the children.

Looking at Paul B. Armstrong article “History and Epistemology: The Example of the Turn of the Screw” opens up the question of knowledge within the world of the novella. How much the reader truly knows about the characters and the setting that is set forth by James. “Making the mind a mirror to its object will end hermeneutic conflict” (246) is a great summary of how James’ and the novels ambiguity shine. Armstrong just like every reader of the work is left to interpret the work. Seeing that many questions remain unanswered by the end of the novel the power of knowledge is what the reader wants to think. James only gives only the needed details to lay what will take place in the novella and he wants the reader to come up with their own conclusion. Thanks to the many interpretations of the work and their own personal views on it, that it is impossible to tell which interpretation is right and is that the story that James wanted to express. A major part the plot that is up in the air for many readers is, the aspect of the ghosts. Depending on how the reader takes the events for themselves. Some believe that the ghosts are trying to help the children escape from the governess. While others see it as the ghosts are trying to corrupt the children from how perfect the governess and others around the house see the children. Many of the ideas about the governess and what might be the truth about her can be brought up in the Leon Edel article: “Introduction to Tales of the Supernatural”. In the article Edel states that the governess is the evil one, “...evil, however is in her own mind" (Edel 191). This can be believable given the reader personal opinion about the governess and what her intentions are with the children Miles and Flora. In some senses the ambiguity of the work is scarier than the novel itself. Edel also states within the article “He tells us he has given each reader, so to speak, a blank check-told him draw all the funds he needs out of his private bank...
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