Turn of the screw

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Topics: Male, Female
The Turn of the screw
Superficially, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw seems to reinforce the status quo of American literature as male, whereby men are viewed as having power over women leaving women to become mere objects. James creates a nameless female protagonist whose story is told through the guise of a male narrator. She becomes an object viewed by Douglas’s audience and is used simply as means for the master on Harley Street to avoid being bothered by his charges. She is then set up as naïve and love-struck, willing to do just about anything, including risking her own sanity, for the sake of keeping the master undisturbed. However, on closer examination, James actually creates a novella that subverts the traditional idea of men having power over women as it is the governess who has the final word in her story, not the male Douglas, and it is the male heir Miles who becomes the scapegoat leaving the governess free, “awfully clever and nice”.
James’s unfinished frame tale creates frustration and confusion but his experiment with form also draws attention to what has largely been left unconscious. Through Douglas’s initial telling of the governess’s story she is reduced to a nameless object that they all raptly listen about rather than listen to. While at the start, Douglas does have power over the governess’s story, in the end it is the governess who has the final word and Douglas, who disappears after only the first seven pages, is never to be heard from again. James relinquishes power to the governess and allows her to participate as there is no need to return to the male voice once she takes over. Furthermore, as the governess does remain nameless throughout her own narrative this hardly is a power issues as both the master on Harley Street and the narrator remain nameless as well.
In addition to his manipulation of form, James also uses the content of his story to portray patriarchal ideals but only as a means of later subverting them. The

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