The Turn of the Screw Notes

The Turn of the Screw Notes

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  • Created on: 09-06-14 18:58
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FREUDIAN THEORY by Sigmund Freud
Anticathexis ­ repressing urges and desires through libidinal energy
Conscious: Superego ­ holds internalized morals that we acquire from society
Unconscious: Id ­ irrational and primitive, it seeks to fulfill sexual release and when it is denied, the
individual is frustrated and highly emotional
The governess superego reminds her to maintain her modesty as a woman of the Victorian era. However,
the sexual feelings for the Master are still present but it has been transferred to the Id. The Id can manifest
these feelings into actions without the person being aware ­ in this case the governess' repressed feelings
have taken the form of ghosts or hallucinations. Her desire for a man is reflected in Quint, as well as her
fear to be associated with a man of lower caste like Quint. Her fascination with Ms Jessel is proof of her
longing to experience the sexual pleasures that Ms Jessel has, but her disdain for the woman also reflects
her Victorian attitudes to those who intermingle with classes lower than their station.
Defense mechanisms:
Denial ­ unwilling to face a painful truth
Rationalizing ­ logical explanation for unacceptable behavior
The governess' subconsciously knows that she is mad "You would think me mad, but the things I have seen
have made me lucid" but to accept her madness would be to place herself on the lowest ranks of the social
ladder. Her rationalizing that the children are lying about not seeing the ghosts because they have been
"corrupted" illustrates how far fetched her theories have become just so that she can prove herself sane.
Electra Complex, Carl Jung
A girl's psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father
The governess is suffering from the Electra complex ­ her naiveté and inexperience leads her to a situation
she is unprepared for.
The Master is older, wealthier, handsome ­ he represents a strong paternal figure in comparison to the
governess' own weak father, a poor fragile country parson whose weakness has made the governess
Psychosis ­ Losing grip on reality
The governess is put in an untenable situation for someone as young and inexperienced as she is e.g. run
Bly, educate children, and manage servants, all without the Master's help. Could the stress put so much
mental strain on her that she imagines the ghosts as a release for her emotions?
Repression: "The essence of repression lies simply in tuning something away and keeping it at a distance
from the conscious"
Because the governess' feelings cannot be expressed (mainly because she doesn't have the means to
express them i.e. the Master is not preset for her to express her desires) she must keep them out of her
conscious mind. The build up of her feelings in her subconscious mind eventually develops into psychosis,
and she becomes mentally unbalanced ­ her repression leads to her imagining ghosts.
The Interpretation of Dreams: "When one is unable to sleep it is not long before a toll is taken upon ones
health, both mentally and physically"
The governess' insomnia, as she stays up all night to monitor the children, contributes to her
volatility and constant mood changes
Civilization and its Discontents:
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Civilization thwarts our most basic human instincts e.g. sexual fulfillment. Therefore man becomes
inhumane and suffers from neuroses (obsession).
Though rules and restrictions make life painful, the violation of these very rules gives us guilt so either way
we suffer torment.
The Uncanny:
Sigmund Freud's study of the 'uncanny' suggests that the apparitions seen by the governess are the
product of her repressed love for the master.…read more

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Originally the ghosts are deemed "evil" and there are a lot of sexual connotations regarding them ghosts as
being child molesters. However, as the governess' paranoia increases, we get a sense that she is the true
evil that is "corrupting" the children rather than the ghosts ­ she has become everything she despises e.g.…read more

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Mrs Grose is quick to believe the borderline insane governess b/c they have a similar socio-economic
background, therefore they are somewhat equals even if the governess does not seem to think so. This
makes it easier for Mrs Grose to accept the governess' far fetched theories.…read more

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The governess chooses to suffer from sexual frustration and this pleases her because she knows
that by not acting upon her desires, she is staying true to the strict Victorian beliefs of the time ­
she is a "proper" woman
Humans assert their individuality by following and engaging in irrational impulses and acts.
The governess acts irrationally with the children, such as when she is convinced of their deceit as
physically abuses them into a "spasm" or hugs them too hard.…read more

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Why is the governess selfish?
She is desperate to prove herself sane, even if it results in Miles death and Flora's fever
She took the job on the basis of the salary and the "splendid" Master rather than for the orphaned
She succumbs to material things and this encourages her to pursue more control and power
She seeks self-gratification; protecting the children makes the lowly governess feel worthy
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER by Charlotte Gilman
The story is used…read more

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The narrator's repressed imagination takes control and she loses all sense of reality, becoming lost in
hallucinations of a woman in the wallpaper. Her deterioration to madness is similar to that of the
The more time the governess spends around the children, the more convinced she is of their deceit.
Likewise, Gilman's narrator spends so much time observing the wallpaper that she begins to see
things that aren't there.…read more

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warning to the governess and terrifies her, hence why she manifests Quint who is a sexual predator
and therefore he is a sexual threat to the governess.
THE GREAT GATSBY by Scott Fitzgerald
"I hope she'll be a fool" ­ Daisy Buchanan
Women were deemed irrelevant and were only there for show. Likewise, the Master acquires "pretty,
young" women for the station of governess, rater than basing the job on their intellect.…read more


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