Delusion or Reality Dilemma in The Turn Of The Screw

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the novella The Turn Of The Screw there are many predictions interpreted by scholars who have read and thoroughly analyzed it, that the Governess, whose title has been capitalized due to her not having a given name in the novella, could be blatantly imagining every little detail and run in with the so-called spirits shes seen and that everything out of the ordinary is simply in her own head. Whether its real life or fantasy each aspect of the exhilaratingly inclusive novella comes back to her being deemed as extremely deranged. It keeps each and every reader on the edge of their seats within their own fabrication and rendering of the cleverly written novella.

The Governess struggles to fight an external conflict that soon becomes internal, with intense thoughts flowing often making it impossible for her to truly decipher the chain of peculiar incidents happening. The young Governess takes care of a wealthy man’s niece and nephew and places confidence in her liking towards him. This time period plays a vital role for those who have different deceptions of the book since she’s a young woman in the Victorian era. It could be thought about in the sense of her being oppressed and driving herself insane. This time period arranges the surroundings in such a way, that the setting itself could be undoubtedly overlooked but when reflected on and taken into consideration, quite possibly change the entire overview and insights that the reader grasps about The Turn of the Screw. Is the Governess stable and evidently going through a daunting phenomenon or is she slowly but surely going insane?

The Victorian era is generally seen as going through the reign of Queen Victoria which was around 1837 to 1901. It was seen to be an exuberant and invigorating period with many artistic styles, schooling and political and religious movements flourishing here and there. However often times, the way women were treated is disregarded. The Victorian era was also a time with which today we associate with ‘prudishness’ and ‘repression’ relating to women. Traditional gender roles made it nearly impossible for people to see women as “normal” if they showed the slightest signs of what they thought was abnormal behavior. They considered showing intense emotions, standing up for themselves and many more occasions, rare and unacceptable behavior for a woman to portray. Making it difficult to truly express themselves, therefore, many women became mentally unstable.

The Governess wasn’t given a name throughout the storyline, leaning towards the fact of during those times women were sought out to be property. This uneasy thought also leads to the fact that the entire novella is told through her perspective of things, yet told by a narrator to townspeople, gathering around and wanting the information on the drama and gossip to start off the book. This could mean her way of words got misinterpreted or her words could have potentially got twisted. Since it is from her point of view she could of very well thought there was nothing wrong with her. Similarly, since she confided in Mrs.Grose, a servant at the Bly household, and Mrs.Grose had explained hesitantly that she’s seen the same eerie sightings it is likely that eased the Governess’s stress and she felt as if she wasn’t the only one. Although throughout the novella she shares her frightening experiences with Mrs. Grose, and eventually the children, it could just so happen be them going along with it so she doesn’t sound delirious.

As Alan Williamson says in his article, it could all be about repressed sexuality. Everything was built up emotions and all, but when things are bottled up they release themselves as one thing or another. The Governess could be feeling guilty or shameful for having feelings that society was to deplore. This makes it exceedingly troublesome to express those feelings due to the fear of judgment reflecting the release of what’s looked down upon. Therefore it left her no choice but to feel obligated to conceal the romantic feelings, where they gained more and more power in her subconscious mind. This sequence of events caused a downward spiral of the Governess’s mental stability causing hysteria and figments of her imagination. This is a likely explanation because during those times women being open about things ranging from common day to day emotions, romance, sex, and love were very looked down upon. It was almost as if women should be robots with no feelings or say in things which would drive any sane person mad. These feelings could have heightened in the beginning when she takes a liking to the children’s uncle and somewhat fantasizes what it would be like to be with him. She imagines showing him how good she is with the kids “The moral of which was, of course, the seduction exercised by the splendid young man. She succumbed to it.” Therefor elucidating the impression that she had become infatuated with him when in reality he didn’t care for her and wanted no contact whatsoever.

These realizations could have led to her to slowly go crazy over him and the fact that she could not have him. This mentally played with her emotions sending her on a spiral of hallucinations and delusion all within the walls of Bly. The character of the governess is portrayed as though she was going to get ahead of herself and make a vast discovery as to uncover the motives of the ghosts and their relationships with the children, but the climax essentially never got that far. She was continuously running into the ghosts and seeing them in all corners of the Bly household, but yet always in conflict as to what to do about it. Eventually, she grows to have what appears to be an obsession with the children and wanting to protect them. This consumes her from the inside out and takes over her already disheveled thoughts, feeding the fire inside her brain that was growing with each sighting and encounter she shares with the spirits. Wthin an article written by Jeff Williams, its demonstrated that James himself had sought after a novella bursting at its seems, with twists and turns and wanted it to be a “pot boiler”. The reason behind James wanting a puzzling story like the one he wrote is unknown, but it inarguably gets the readers’ thoughts going and electrifies one’s imagination. The entire story is an implication rather than a distinct framework.

Often times it is an intense guessing game when it comes to understanding the exact interpretation of things and from what is know it was deliberately done this way. On occasion when the governess happens to come across a romantic thought, she deliberately distracts the reader with the aspects of one of the ghosts, in order to conceal her true thoughts. She is in pursuit of attention and romance but quickly suppresses these passionate thoughts and gradually starts losing her mind. These hallucinations could likely be generated from the urge to impress the children’s Uncle whilst wanting to conceal those feelings she has for him, under a facade of a wholesome young woman. However, the reader looks at the novella there are numerous endings to James’s strategic writing. Weiqiang Mao states that it was intentional of Henry James to make never-ending scenarios possible within the book and its climax. It seems to be a never-ending list of ways the novella could be understood and that makes the Governess look all the more crazy.

While this is a wide debate for many scholars, all such attempts to so-called solve the novella, will remain up in the air. It is in the reader’s hands to choose what they do and does not surmise. If it is chosen to believe in the reality of the ghosts, The Turn of the Screw blatantly introduces an interesting take of widespread horror. On the contrary, if it is accepted that it is the governess’ insanity, we have a fascinating view of intense mental warfare for us to contemplate. No matter how you wish to look at it as you delve deeper and ascend into mysterious or clever thoughts, The Turn of the Screw is greater than either of these elucidations. The gratification of this book is found within the fact that James simply doesn’t settle for one side over the other. Within it is hair-raising, unforeseen plot twists and it is brief condensed chapters, the novella remains a leap into ambivalence. It is truly devoted to being undevoted, and no matter what you conclude the outcome is, Henry James will be in between both sides yet playing along with whatever denouement the reader desires.


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