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The Turn of the Screw

Henry James

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Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title · The Turn of the Screw

author · Henry James

type of work · Novella

genre · Gothic novel; satire

language · English

time and place written · 1898, England

date of first publication · 1898

publisher · Collier’s Weekly

narrator · The governess narrates virtually the whole tale in retrospect, as she writes it down in a manuscript. The prologue is told by an anonymous narrator who seems educated and of the upper class.

point of view · The governess speaks in the first person, as she puts into writing her account of the strange occurrences she experienced at Bly.

tone · The governess narrates with an attitude of intimate confidentiality that is biased and possibly unreliable.

tense · Past

setting (time) · 1840s

setting (place) · Bly, a country home in Essex, England

protagonist · The governess

major conflict · The governess struggles to unlock the mysteries of Bly and protect her two pupils against what she believes to be supernatural forces.

rising action · The governess has a number of encounters with two different ghosts whom she believes seek to corrupt her unnaturally perfect students, who may be communicating with the ghosts behind her back.

climax · The governess points to the image of Miss Jessel as proof that the specter exists, but Mrs. Grose and Flora claim to see nothing, which implies that the governess is insane.

falling action · Flora becomes ill from fear of the governess and departs Bly with Mrs. Grose, leaving the governess alone with Miles to contend with the ghost she believes haunts him.

themes · The corruption of the innocent; the destructiveness of heroism; forbidden subjects

motifs · Vision; a ship lost at sea; silence

symbols · Light; the written word

foreshadowing · During her first day at Bly, the governess thinks she hears a child’s cry in the distance. The governess imagines herself at the helm of a ship lost at sea. The governess experiences stillness ahead of each supernatural encounter.

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Insanity

by lunagshane, April 23, 2014

The themes of insanity can be interpreted in many ways in this novel.
All of the themes I am about to discuss have to do with the Governess.

The Governess is possibly absolutely sane throughout -

Insanity

by lunagshane, April 23, 2014

The themes of insanity can be interpreted in many ways in this novel.
All of the themes I am about to discuss have to do with the Governess.

The Governess is possibly absolutely sane throughout -

Insanity

by lunagshane, April 23, 2014

First, Thank you Sparknotes for posting an uncompleted note TWICE.

Let's try this again.

The themes of insanity can be interpreted in many ways in this novel.
All of the themes I am about to discuss have to do with the Governess.

***Spoilers below***

1.) The Governess is possibly absolutely sane throughout -
~This theory is the one I feel is the least likely option in the novel. With everything going on, if she wasn't already insane before, the events in the story should have driven her to insa... Read more

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