The Turn of the Screw Notes part 2

The Turn of the Screw Notes

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  • Created on: 09-06-14 18:59
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AO2 ­ Language AO4 ­ Social Context
INNOCENCE
There is something eerie about how fully the governess is entranced by Miles' beauty and aura of purity ­
its almost as if her has indoctrinated her into thinking that he's better than the rest of the world. Miles' air
of innocence also protects him despite being "bad" ­ she forgives him and makes excuses for him, such as
when he is expelled she blames the headmaster for being vindictive.
One must wonder that if the ghosts have become obvious to the governess, then surely she has
witnessed "evil" and this evil must have somehow corrupted her, even if she denies it and refuses to have
gone "mad" like others would.
When Flora says, "I don't like to frighten you", is she explaining why she is universally admired for her good
behavior? Or is she making a covert threat?
CORRUPTION OF THE INNOCENCE
Whilst the governess is most fearful of corruption, she is the least sexually experienced and the most
curious, hence her fascination with Ms. Jessel. The knowledge of sex is a more terrifying prospect than
confronting the dead ­ the governess has her priorities wrong.
The governess' fear of the children's corruption represents her projection of her own fears of desires onto
her charges ­ she does not want to sexually exploit them like the ghosts did because then she herself
would be "corrupted".
GOOD vs EVIL
The final scene where Quint and the governess are battling for control over Miles' soul is representing a
struggle between good and evil ­ but it is not clear who is the good and who is the evil. Perhaps the
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AO2 ­ Language AO4 ­ Social Context
governess is the true symbol of evil as she is the one who acts aggressive and forceful with the children
whilst the ghosts make no move to harm them, they simply observe.
In the final chapter the governess states that Miles belongs to her, "I have you". She has a desire to
posses him, even going as far to let him die, as opposed to Quint, who has never made any (known)
attempt to communicate with Miles.…read more

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AO2 ­ Language AO4 ­ Social Context
horrifying and evil traits but she is unaware of it ­ this is the first point where we begin to see some evil
exuding her.
The governess states that Quint is wearing somebody else's nice clothes but he is no gentleman himself.…read more

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BEAUTY
The governess' observations and assumptions about the children are all purely based on their appearance.
Placing emphasis on being "carried away" by Flora's "radiant image" and angelic nature, "Raphael's holy
infants", only makes her later alleged deception even more disturbing.
The governess view of Bly is influenced by the children's charm, "castle of romance", when in reality it is
nothing but a "big, ugly" building.…read more

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However, when the governess labels the children as "frauds" we see for the first time that she is
questioning the system of "judging a book by its cover", which was a popular concept in the 19th century.
She is inferring that there is a darkness that lies under the cold beauty of the elite ­ and she is desperate to
solve this mystery.
The summer is a peaceful and idyllic time for the governess.…read more

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REPRESSION
Sexual hysteria was seen as a psychosexual disorder affecting well-bred, intelligent women due to the
conflict between natural sexual desires and the repression of Victorian social ideals.
The brief contact with her employer is enough of a reward for the isolated life the governess is about to
embark on ­ this is what a women of her stature must sacrifice in order to feel somewhat sexually aroused.…read more

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Miles becomes more "exceptional" to the governess than Flora, who descends into "ugliness". Perhaps
this is because she is starting to see him in a sexual way and therefore she is prone to adding magnificence
to his every word and action. She also uses her fear of the ghosts as an excuse to be affectionate around
the children, even going as far to kiss Miles.…read more

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The fact that Quint, a servant, appears as a ghost demonstrates the governess' Victorian attitudes towards
servants ­they are less than human. The governess' attitude towards the servants is physically manifested
in the ghosts; they are "creatures" that don't belong in this world. Fundamentally, servants are tantamount
to ghosts.…read more

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POWER
The grandeur of the house intimidates the governess but she still feels proud to belong there ­ she has a
lot of power by being there. She admits in retrospect that she would not be impressed if she saw toured
the house again ­ this hints and foretells that something must have happened to change her mind about
Bly, something that caused her lo lose her power and therefore her status in the house.…read more

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AO2 ­ Language AO4 ­ Social Context
Moreover, there are class dynamics at play; when Mrs. Grose overpowers her by claiming it's a
"joke" we are aware that now the governess is even lower in the ranks than Mrs. Grose ­ she has lost so
much power and authority that even someone as lowly as Mrs. Grose can easily override her. Moreover,
Mrs.…read more

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