Peter Quint is Bly’s former valet who died unexpectedly before the current governess’s arrival at the manor. As a result, the living Quint, like Miss Jessel, never appears in the story; what he was like in life is relayed to the governess and the reader through conversations with Mrs. Grose. According to Mrs. Grose, Quint was lower-class. She describes Quint as a scoundrel and insists that Quint was a bad influence on Miles, in whom he had taken an interest. After the children’s uncle left Bly, Quint sought to control the goings-on at the estate, acting as if he were the man of the house. His actions at Bly greatly disturbed Mrs. Grose, who was fearful of him. Despite his low socioeconomic status and his questionable attitude, the handsome but disreputable Quint managed to scandalously seduce Miss Jessel, a lady of greater beauty and wealth.

Peter Quint’s spirit, the governess firmly believes, takes a keen interest in Miles. As with Miss Jessel, the governess believes Quint’s spirit seems determined to corrupt Miles in some way, potentially by means of possession. The governess attributes Miles’s more problematic behavior to Quint’s influence, deciding his expulsion from school due to the unspecified lewd or violent statements he made towards the other boys is Quint’s doing. At the end of the novel, it’s possible Miles finally sees Quint through a window, but it’s equally as possible the governess is merely interpreting events in a way that verifies her delusions. Henry James leaves the question of Peter Quint’s existence elusive.