How Does James Seek to Disturb and Involve the Reader in the Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw, written by author Henry James, although defying many gothic conventions remains one of the most suspenseful and sinister tales of the Victorian Era. The novella’s enthralling nature effectively seeks to disturb and involve readers and this is made evident through James’s successful use of a variety of structural and literary techniques to create and prolong suspense and ambiguity.
James first establishes a strong and intimate connection between reader and protagonist through the use of first person in order to actively involve the reader. This is achieved through the governess’s use of syntax and complex sentences when describing her first impressions of Bly. For example when the governess says “I remember as a thoroughly pleasant impression the broad, clear front, its open windows and fresh curtains and the pair of maids looking out” readers are provided with clear imagery of what the governess is seeing, therefore enabling readers to identify with the protagonist and view the situation from her perspective. This intimate identification with the governess later contributes to the disturbance of readers as, when the reader reaches the possible conclusion of the governesses emotional instability and tendency to catastrophise situations (when the governess says “His not reading to her, I declared, they’re talking of them, they’re talking horrors!”) readers begin questioning the governesses judgement, which for the majority of the novella has also been their own as a result of the reader being provided with a limited perception and knowledge of the happenings of Bly (as the tale has been told from the governesses viewpoint) This results in readers questioning every assumption they have previously made as they take into account the unreliability of the governess as narrator.
The inclusion of ambiguous dialogue throughout the novella also contributes to the