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.
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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