3/16: “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James

“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James was an intriguing story and a real eye opener depending how the readers took the “truth”. The story starts of in an old house on a Christmas Eve where the subject of ghosts is brought up. A man named Douglas introduces a story that involves two children, Flora and Miles, and his sister’s governess. The governess recorded her experiences and events she has dealt with during her time as a governess. We learn that the governess was hired to take care of the two children who had been left under the care of an uncle who was also a handsome bachelor which convinced her to work for him along with the fact that the previous governess, Miss Jessel, died. Douglas reads from the written record and the story shifts to the governess’s point of view as she narrates her strange experience. The day the governess starts working, she grows very fond of the children who would never cause anyone any trouble despite the fact that Miles has been discharged from his school. According to Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper, believed that Miles was just too good for a regular school. The governess enjoys her job so much to the point where she wishes that the children’s handsome uncle could see how well she is doing. Later on, she starts noticing a form of a strange man at some distance and wondered if this family possessed some secrets that she did not know of. She sees the same face again and tells this to Mrs. Grose about it. She learns that it is Peter Quint who she saw, who is an ex-servant who has been dead for about a year. She then see another apparition in the form of a lady. She learns from Mrs. Grose that the lady is the former governess, Miss Jessel. She finds out that both Peter Quint and Miss Jessel had been intimate with each other and they been too familiar with the children. After seeing the strange figures over and over again, she believes that they are returning to see the children. The governess also wonders if the children could see them and are aware of their presence. She also notices that in the middle of the night, Miles is out walking on the lawn to prove that he is bad. Flora also often gets up in the night to look out the window.

After reading the first half of the story, I was very confused on how it started. I forgot that the story started with Douglas telling the story which later transitioned to the unnamed narrator telling the story. The governess accepts the job not only because the previous governess of the two children died but also because their uncle was quite handsome. When the uncle hired the governess, he gave her implicit instructions that she was to cope with any problem and never bother him.

After watching and analyzing the movie, “The Innocents”, I fell in love of the intro music and believed that is was the perfect application to describe the story. It had that dark and eeriness vibe to it which grabs the audience attention. I found it funny how it was so obvious that the governess had a thing for the uncle during the meeting between those two. She even overlooked his statement “I have no room for them neither mentally nor emotionally, does that seem quite heartless?” and didn’t consider his distaste for children as she shrugged it off, while too curious about the bachelor and not the job itself. The camera works does a good job on creating the suspense of the movie as it constantly moves back and forth, building up the eeriness and suspense especially when the governess learns that Peter Quint is dead as the camera moves to the children playing, implying that the children are not as innocent as they seem. They have more of a devious look on their face. After watching the movie, the movie was not completely like how I imagined it when I read the book but I do believe that it did a good job capturing the important aspects of the story, drawing the audience’s attention and interest.


3 thoughts on “3/16: “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James

  1. Yes–both the novella and the film question whether the governess (and/or the children) are coming unhinged (or possessed)…


  2. frombrittany says:

    In finishing the reading did you ever wonder if maybe the ghost’s obsession with the children, that quickly turned into the obsession of Governess is some kind of creepy cycle?


  3. Wow this was very well worded! I agree completely that the story relates the movie “The Innocents.” I saw that someone else related the story to this movie as well.


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