English - turn of the screw quotes


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Repression quotes

"That she should never trouble him – but never, never: neither appeal nor complain nor write about anything"

As a proper young lady, we can imagine that the Governess doesn't often feel the touch of a man – and so this brief contact with her dashing employer seems like enough of a reward for the isolated life she's about to embark upon.

 "I was giving pleasure – if he ever thought of it!"

While the Governess never comes right out and admits that she's carrying a blazing torch for the children's uncle, she indulges in a lot of speculation about him and the, er, "pleasure" she might bring him.

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Repression quotes

"There was something new, on the spot, between us, and he was perfectly aware that I recognized it"

The Governess can't – or won't – put her finger on what has changed between her and Miles. We can only note that he grows more and more like a man and less childish as the story goes on, and his greater degree of independence also gives him a greater sense of power – in our eyes and in those of his teacher.

"Dark as midnight in her black dress, her haggard beauty and her unutterable woe"

Miss Jessel is depicted with some amount of sympathy here and throughout the story; though she is certainly described as an evil presence, the Governess is also clearly fascinated with her. We wonder if Miss Jessel is a kind of evil twin to the Governess – the shamed woman acts upon her desires and suffers the consequences, while the Governess keeps hers bottled up inside.

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"I just want you to help me to save you"

Anyone as tightly wound as the Governess is bound to explode sometime. Here, we see the first of her explosions – her outburst towards Miles demonstrates her desire not simply to save him, as she suggests to him, but instead to possess him, a much more violent (and interestingly, rather Quint-ian) idea.

"Where, my pet, is Miss Jessel"

 Here ,we have explosion number two from the Governess. After hiding her suspicions for most of the summer, she finally goes through with the dramatic accusation she envisioned earlier, even though Mrs. Grose silently implores her not to, proving that we simply can't contain things internally forever.

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Innocence in Miles and Flora

"in the great glow of freshness, the same positive fragrance of purity"

Miles's innocence apparently announces itself in his physical presence; there's something almost magical about the way in which his appearance convinces the Governess that he's a good kid.

"he was only too fine and fair for the little horrid unclean school"

Miles's angelic appearance wins over the Governess right away – so much so that she is swayed into thinking that the school must have been wrong in sending him away. There's something eerie about how fully she's entranced by Miles's beauty and his aura of purity; it's almost as though he has brainwashed her into thinking that he's better than the rest of the world.

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Innocence in Flora and Miles

"They were like those cherubs of the anecdote who had – morally at any rate – nothing to whack"

This rather bizarre-sounding quote serves to emphasize just how oddly (creepily, one might even say) innocent and angelic these children are. The whole thing about the cherubs with nothing to whack refers to a famous story related by author Charles Lamb, who lamented the fact that a former teacher, who was fond of corporal punishment, would have no students' bottoms to whip in heaven, since angels were frequently pictured as winged baby heads with no bodies. Weird, we know.

"I found nothing at all, and he was therefore an angel"

The Governess's faith in Miles's innocence again seems to rest simply on his outward aspect; we actually have no idea what he's like on the inside. The Governess's certainty that she'd be able to tell if he'd ever been bad is truly, truly naïve.

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Innocence in Flora and Miles

"The presence on the lawn – I felt sick as I made it out – was poor little Miles himself"

Despite the fact that Miles is clearly being "bad" here, he's still depicted as "poor little Miles," as though his air of innocence still protects him somehow.

"He couldn't play any longer at innocence; so how the deuce would he get out of it"

Here, the Governess begins to wonder if the whole innocent and pure aura that surrounds Miles is just an act; her perceptions not only of the children but of the world around her begin to change from here on out.

"Miles and Flora saw more – things terrible and unguessable"

The Governess's fear that the children have been corrupted by their communication with the ghosts makes us wonder what her state of innocence is – having seen some of what they've seen, has she also been corrupted somehow?

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Supernatural quotes

"in regard to Griffin's ghost, or whatever it was – that its appearing first to the little boy, at so tender an age"

The association of children with the supernatural and the heightened tension that this relationship creates is introduced early on – actually, on the very first page of the story – giving readers an idea of what to anticipate.

"There had been a moment when I believed I recognized, faint and far, the cry of a child"

Here, the whole "ghost story" genre makes itself clear; the sounds the Governess hears in the night are universally stereotypical sound effects of horror.

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Supernatural quotes

"That's how I thought, with extraordinary quickness, of each person that he might have been and that he was not"

The unnatural quality of Quint's appearance, even before we know he's a ghost, is notable straight away. The sudden dropping away of the natural world draws attention to the wrongness of his presence.

"Her expression, at this, became extraordinary. "God knows where! He died."

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