This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Ambiguity: Is The Turn Of The Screw Based On A True Story Or Is It A Tale Of Insanity?

1775 words - 8 pages

ENC 1102
02 December 2010
Ambiguity: Is The Turn of The Screw based on a true story or is it a tale of insanity?
The ambiguous writing style used by Henry James in The Turn of The Screw leaves the story open to the interpretation of the individual reader. I will show how this ambiguous writing style does not lead the reader to any specific interpretation, but it is actually used by James to deliberately confuse the reader and foster an atmosphere of uncertainty. This purposeful lack of facts by James throughout the story makes the reader draw his own conclusions about what actually takes place.
Many critics have analyzed The Turn of The Screw and most of them have come to the same ...view middle of the document...

James starts with a captivating but ambiguous beginning which draws the reader in and foretells a tale of “delicious” dreadfulness (23). The tale opens with an unnamed narrator attending a house party on Christmas Eve at which ghost stories are being told. All of the guests agree that stories in which ghosts visit children are especially eerie, and an older guest named Douglas indicates that he has access to a story in which a ghost visits two children. In the second paragraph of the story, Douglas says, "If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what you say to two children (James 22)?"
Everyone wants to hear the story. The reader also shares in the eagerness of the guests to be frightened; to be thrilled by the horror they are going to experience. Upon seeing Douglas' anguish at the thought of the tale he is about to tell, and its "dreadful - dreadfulness"(James 23), one of the female guests actually cries, "Oh how delicious!"(James 23). The story he is going to tell was written many years earlier by a governess, who also was the narrator, who has been dead for twenty years. She was once his sister's governess so Douglas had firsthand knowledge of the story.
As we move on through the book we come to the meeting of the governess, who is not actually the governess at this point as she has not yet accepted the job being offered by the gentleman on Harley Street. He is a rich, attractive bachelor who has taken on the responsibility of seeing to the education of his orphaned niece and nephew, who live at his remote country house, Bly. The location is isolated and lonely, and the gentleman has a strange stipulation that she must deal with any problems on her own and she is never to communicate with him about any matter. James leaves the reader with the following questions; why would this gentleman have such a strange request? What is going on at this isolated country estate that he does not wish to have any part of? This lack of explanation leaves the reader free to guess what the motives of the employer might be. Also to wonder why a woman such as the governess would accept such a strange task, does she have a secret desire for the employer or is she truly in just for the job?
The next scenario of an ambiguous nature which I will discuss is when the governess receives a letter from her employer; this letter contains another letter which is from the headmaster of the school at which the employer’s nephew Miles is attending. The letter states that Miles will not be allowed to return to school when the summer break is over and does not go into any further details as to the nature of the offense which has caused his banishment.
The governess goes to Mrs. Grose, a servant who is the acting governess because the last governess Miss Jessel died unexpectedly. Mrs. Grose seems overly glad to see the new governess and quickly becomes her companion and confidante. The governess asks Mrs. Grose if she has known Miles to...

Other Papers Like Ambiguity: Is The Turn Of The Screw Based On A True Story Or Is It A Tale Of Insanity?

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James

2523 words - 11 pages No matter if we read Henry James¡¦s The Turn of the Screw for fun or for a serious purpose, we all seem to undergo the search for Peter Quint and Miss Jessel ourselves as the governess depicts her own story. That is, the existence of the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw has always been in debate. Instead of directly discussing whether the ghosts are real or not, here in this paper, attention will be drawn to the reliability of the governess, the

The Turn of the Screw Research Paper

863 words - 4 pages In The Turn of the Screw, the children suffer because of the governess’s insanity, caused by her unexpressed love for the master. Because the master is not impressed by her ordinary course of governessing, she believes that she must stage a life-threatening danger to the children, so she can appear as a hero when she rescues them; in turn, winning the master’s love and affection. “It is her master’s curiously absent status, coupled with the

Frankenstein By Mary Shelley Is 'Frankenstein' Purely A Gothic Horror Story, Or Is It A Precursor Of Modern Science Fiction?

1662 words - 7 pages does not meet this criterion."I read with ardour those works, so full of genius... which modern enquires have written on these subjects." Having analysed the two genre's one can conclude that they are very similar and so it is difficult to place 'Frankenstein' in either one or the other. 'Frankenstein has a combination of both elements which gives it a good diversity. The gothic component comes in mainly with the violence and romance, but the creation discovery is more science based. This makes 'Frankenstein' a good mix between the two genres, which makes the story more effective and helps it suit a wider audience.

The Governess In The Turn Of The Screw

1113 words - 5 pages governess in The Turn of the Screw, is a highly unreliable narrator. From the beginning of the story, her energetic imagination is displayed to the reader. With this knowledge alone, it would not be irrational to conclude that she had imagined the appearances of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. However, these facts in addition to her unsubstantiated inferences allow the reader to intelligently label the governess as an unreliable narrator

Ghosts In Henry James Turn Of The Screw

661 words - 3 pages The Turn of the Screw:  Ghosts         Lawrence Kramer poses some interesting ideas about Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw mainly by discussing the ghosts in the story. He refers to the ghosts as revenants; “a specter, a ghost, a phantom, one who haunts, who returns, who walks again.” First, he implies that these revenants can only work when a person believes they exist. There must be

This Essay Is Talking About How It Is Significant That A Miller Tells "The Millers Tale" And How It Is Significant That The Wife Of Bath Tells Her Tale

1476 words - 6 pages gives him an option to choose. "'To have me old and ugly till I die, and be to you a true an faithful wife, and never to displease you all my life; or else to have me beautiful an young, and take your chances with a crowd of men, all flocking to the house because of me, or to some other place as it may be." (Chaucer, The Wife of Baths tale 250) This quote is particularly important because the knight's wife is giving him an option which both

Food Is Transported Thousands of Miles from the Farm to the Market. Is It a Positive or Negative Trend?

591 words - 3 pages KEY TO IELTS ESSAY ON 3rd, DECEMBER, 2011 Food is transported thousands of miles from the farm to the market. Is it a positive or negative trend? We all need food to survive. It is thought that with the domination of cutting-edge technology, such as airplane, food is accessible to everywhere while others see it as a danger, rather than a boon. I totally support the mobile trend in food distribution. First of all, opponents of this

To What Extent Is It True That the Amount of Profits Earned by a Business, in an Economic Downturn, Depend Upon the Industry in Which It Operates?

1389 words - 6 pages have cost around £150m but would be worth it to create many jobs across the UK despite the last quarter of 2008 having a GDP change of -2.1%. In contrast to my previous point one industry which isn’t bulletproof is the car industry which took a turn for the worst during the recession, in mid-December 2008 car industries were talking about cutting shifts and shorter hours for workers according to a post on BBC news, also included in this story

Consider Ordinary Peoples Experiences of the 1930s and Evaluate How Far It Is True to Say That Britain Was a Bitterly Divided and Unjust Society

1552 words - 7 pages Unit 3 Consider ordinary peoples experiences of the 1930s and evaluate how far it is true to say that Britain was a bitterly divided and unjust society. Word Count: The 1930s in Britain for many people was a period of great hardship. The effects of the Great Depression on the United Kingdom varied depending on the area. The 1930’s have been referred to as ‘The Devil’s Decade’, insinuating hardship for everyone involved. However, I would

Why Can It Be Difficult to Decide Whether or Not a Person Is a Carer and Does It Matter? Base Your Answer on the Case of Someone You Know

820 words - 4 pages Name: Asha Renah 23 February 2011 Part A: Essay Title: Why can it be difficult to decide whether or not a person is a carer, and does it matter? Base your answer on the case of someone you know. In this short piece of writing I will talk about the reason why it’s a great significance to be able to say who is and who isn’t a carer. The value of being recognised for the work being done helps lift the feeling of isolation and

A Lame Narrative Story Based On The Game Everquest

905 words - 4 pages in the ways of the Warrior. You find him at the Pit of Doom." She then pointed behind me. I quickly ran to Kylan and gave him the note. He gave me a patched fur tunic in response. I quickly put it on with extreme embarrassment. He then gave me a woven candle, some bread cakes, plenty skins of milk and a short sword. I stuffed the candle, bread and milk skins into my tunic pocket and grasped the sword with great delight.Recalling my discussion

Related Essays

The Turn Of A Screw Essay

756 words - 4 pages reader follow his thoughts throughout the entire process. Henry James was a master of expression and grammar. His ability to form a complex, yet coherent sentence did nothing but add to the quality of the novel. The characters alone added to the quality of the novel. It is not so much as they were entirely believable, but they were believable to the extent of their being in a ghost story. The things that happened to these poor characters

Turn Of The Screw Essay

1613 words - 7 pages style contributes to the development of the story. Along with this, I will be comparing “Turn of the Screw” to traditional ghost stories, and discussing whether there are differences between the two. Douglas is presented from the outset of the story as a frame narrator in that he begins his tale by offering to recite a manuscript written by his sister’s former governess, who is a person who Douglas holds in high esteem. This act of recounting

Turn Of The Screw Essay

1100 words - 5 pages TURN OF THE SCREW: James, Henry TAKES PLACE IN THE COUNTRY GOVERNESS NOT CONCERNED W NATURE-ONLY WORRIED ABOUT GHOSTS NO ORGANIZED RELIGION A An anonymous narrator recalls a Christmas Eve gathering at an old house, where guests listen to one another’s ghost stories. A guest named Douglas introduces a story that involves two children—Flora and Miles—and his sister’s governess, with whom he was in love. After procuring the governess’s

"A Turn Of The Screw" By Henry James

726 words - 3 pages The Governess In The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is Driven to Paranoia and Insanity by her Fear of the Position.The plausibility of the governess' story in A Turn of the Screw by Henry James really revolves around whether or not the reader believes that ghosts could exist. At first, I believed in the credibility of the governess because of all the strange events that surrounded her arrival at the estate. The governess, although seemingly