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The Missing Screw

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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James can be interpreted in two main ways; as a psychological thriller or a ghost story. In the book, the central character and one of the narrators, the governess, has convinced herself that the children, Miles and Flora, are seeing apparitions. Another explanation is that she herself created these images through her madness. The governess desires so much to be loved that she drives herself insane. The author also does a good job of convincing the reader that the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Peter Quint are "real." Yet, I believe differently. There are many clues that allude to the fact that the governess is having a psychological break down do to the fact that she is lonely and yearns to be loved. I will discuss the clues that lead me to this conclusion in this paper.

At the beginning of the book, during her first interview, the governess' job is described as, "a vision of serious duties and little company, of really great loneliness" (28). This quote proves to me that the governess' job required very little social interaction. This gives her a lot of time for her mind to wander. Also during the interview the governess becomes physically attracted to the uncle. She uses words like handsome and pleasant to describe him. The governess is beginning to fall for the uncle, but when he leaves she finds herself alone again. There is no one around since she is so isolated at Bly. She now begins to create the first of the apparitions.

The governess is very lonely, and decides to take a walk. The governess says that she dreams of a man on the turn of the path that would stand before her and smile in approval (39). As you continue to read she then says, "And with a shock much greater than any vision had allowed for was the sense that my imagination had, in a flash, turned real. He did stand there" (39). This man, in fact was the ghost of Peter Quint. This image of man was created in the governess' mind. She even states it herself when she senses that her imagination in fact had become real. In this part of the book, Henry James tells us that the image was produced in the governess' mind, but we are in shock and are convinced that it was an actual ghost. The governess desires to be loved, but she is still not full filled. She then becomes attracted to, "her little gentleman" (33).

The governess' little gentleman is Miles;



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