‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Henry James is a very noteworthy novella that provoked numerous discussions among critics. At first glance, the author creates a typical ghost story but, on a profound reflection, a reader may wonder whether the story really deals with the supernatural or probably this is just an imagination of the narrator of the story who may have some mental problems. In actuality, the entire work reveals the gradual deterioration of the state of mind of the narrator of the story as the atmosphere grows more and more tense. At the beginning of the novella the governess seems to be an ordinary woman that finds herself in ordinary circumstances, though the depiction of the house is purely gothic which evokes certain apprehension of readers about the further events in the story. The tension increases as Miles comes back and as the narrator learns about the tragic death of her predecessor and later of another servant, Peter Quint, who was actually the lover of the former governess, Miss Jessel.
Moreover, the narrator starts to see some strange visions, such as a man floating at her window, she hears strange sounds and eventually gets convinced that Peter and Jessel want to use children to continue their relationship. Eventually, this leads to the tragic death of the boy, Miles, whom the narrator practically kills in order to prevent him from presumable threat from the part of Peter Quint, as the narrator supposes.
Obviously, his death marks the apogee of the supernatural existence the governess witnessed and even struggled against. At the same time, it is possible to name other evidences that made the presence of supernatural quite real. For instance, the language of the narrator is absolutely normal, her narration is logically built and structured, she has no problems with the presentation of her thoughts. This is the evidence of the fact that the narrator was mentally normal. By the way, it seems that the author intentionally uses the frame narrative in the story in order to underline that this is not just a tale but practically a documentary representation of the events the governess witnessed in Bly. In such a way, the author manages to make the supernatural more real and the narration actually turns to be an effective tool to increase the realism and credibility of the story.
As the supernatural gets closer to the narrator and is encountered over and over again the narrator attempts to analyze what she actually sees. At first she attempts to ignore her visions, pretending that it is just her imagination but gradually she starts to believe in the supernatural to the extent that she is convinced that it even threatens to the children who simply turn to be puppets in hands of Peter Quint and Jessel. Eventually, she recovers from her shock and starts actions that lead to the tragic end.
However, the narrator is not alone in the story. In fact, she is gradually introduced to the supernatural by Mrs. Grose who actually fulfills the function of a person who provides the narrator with the background information and, what is more, unconsciously, she increases the tension and undermines the psychological stability of the narrator, who is intrigued by her recollections about the strange deaths of Peter and Jessel which she later starts to mystify.
Even children contribute to the realism of the supernatural since they behave abnormally. For instance, Miles is expelled from the school, though he was characterized by Mrs Grose as a ‘good boy’. In general, children behave rather as adults than children of their age.
In such a way Henry James creates a perfect and realistic supernatural powers that seem to be present in reality throughout the entire story and that convince a reader that the supernatural does exist and it is not the imagination of the narrator.
- At first the narrator encounters a strange man, than she starts to hear strange sounds and repeatedly encounter the man and woman whom she believes to be Peter Quint and Jessel. Finally, she gets convinced that Peter and Jessel manipulate the children to the extent that she is ready to kill Miles to save him from Peter’s control. The evidences that it is real are the precise depiction of Quint whom she has never seen before but depicts in details correctly, her language proving the normal state of mind. In such a way, the tension gradually increases reaching the apogee by the end of the novella.
- The frame narrative is used to add realism to the story, to make it more credible since it sounds as a documentary but not just a tale that helps to shape readers’ conviction in the existence of the supernatural.
- At first, the narrator pretends that the supernatural is the product of her imagination. Than she attempts to understand what it actually is. Further, she perceives it as a threat to children because she believes that Peter and Jessel use children in their own interests and can really hurt them. Eventually, she starts to act that leads to the death of Miles. In such a way, the author gradually increases the tension and involves the reader in the events of the story.
- Mrs. Grose plays the role of the assistant of the narrator. She introducers the narrator into the life in Bly and its nuances. In fact, it is due to her the supernatural becomes even more real. For instance, when she proves that the man the narrator saw was Peter Quint who should be dead. In such a way she naturally accomplishes the entire story and helps readers assess the extent to which the supernatural is abnormal and real at the same time.
- At the beginning, children seem to be normal, especially Flora. However, gradually they start to behave abnormally. For instance, Miles becomes aggressive and is expelled from school. In general, the children behavior resembles the behavior of adults that prove the reality of the supernatural. Obviously, the author used such representation of children to increase readers’ believe in the supernatural.
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