Possible Essay Titles for The Turn of the Screw


How does the 'The Turn of the Screw' apply to the Governesses tale?


The title of the novella is a metaphor which represents James' continual progression and intensification of key themes throughout. The Screw can represent many things; the detoriation of the Governesses sane mind or the childrens corruption. James contiunally turns the screw during the story and so heightens the importance of these themes. There is also the idea of having a screw loose which adds to the meaning when referring to the Governesses fickle mindset. 

Key quotes:

'If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what do you say too two?'

'To contaminate? - my big word had her at a loss. I explained it. 'To corrupt.'

'cherubs of the anecdote.' 

'vulgarly pert little girl in the street.'

'Fighting with a deamon for a human soul.'

'Isn't it just proof of her blessed innocence?'

'Only another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue.'

Contextual points:

Child prostitution in reference to the street quote was a huge Victorian taboo and was an ever increasing problem in this era.

The role of a Governess was very confusing as they had no social standing. In the social hierachy they were above the soliders but below the family.

How does James present the corruption of innocence in his novella 'The Turn of the Screw?'


As the children are exploited and maniuplated they become defamiliarised by their surrondings and what they are being associated with (ghosts unearthly and unchildlike things) so that they almost seem like the source of evil at Bly. The corruption of innocence is shown by the prelapsarian state of Bly towards the end of the novella.

Key Quotes:

'cherbus of the anecdote.'

'evidence of her blessed innocence.'

'vulgarly pert little girl in the street.'

'his indescrible air of knowing nothing in the world but love.'

'I remember the lawn and the bright flowers...and the clustered tree-tops.'

'common and almost ugly.'

'Peter Quint- you devil.'


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