Turn of the Screw

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Love, Henry James, Romance, Lust, Libido / Pages: 4 (786 words) / Published: Oct 31st, 2013
Turn of the Screw: Psychoanalytic Analysis Since first being published in 1898, Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw has been widely known and analyzed due to it’s ambiguous content. One way of interpreting the novel is reading it as a literal ghost story, but another more common reading is through Freud’s psychoanalysis. The family relationship of Freud’s psychoanalysis includes three parts: the superego, the ego, and the id. The superego consists of morals that are taught by authority or society in general. The id consists of the hidden desires that individuals possess, and the ego is the conscious reflection of the products between the superego and the id. In The Turn of the Screw, the governess represents this Freud family triangle in the battle of conflicts between her id: her sexual desires towards the master and her superego: what is socially acceptable in society. The governess’ ego deals with these sexual desires being repressed by projecting them into hallucinations, which she describes as ghosts. The psychoanalytic interpretation leads the reader to believe that the governess is an unreliable narrator, which then leads the reader to believe that the ghosts are not real, and only hallucinations. The governess was in love with the master throughout the novel, but repressed her feelings and kept them in her subconscious because of her superego; it is not socially acceptable for the governess to be with the uncle. When the governess first sees Peter Quint’s ghost, she admits to have been thinking of someone right before-hand: “…it would be as charming as a charming story to suddenly meet someone. Someone would appear there at the turn of the path and would stand before me and smile and approve” (22). She’s hoping for attention and appreciation from “someone”, representing the master, but Peter Quint appears instead. Her disappointment is evident through her thought, “the man who met my eyes was not the person I had precipitately supposed” (23). While

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