Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Many may interpret ‘The Turn of the Screw’ as an eloquent and horrendous story of the supernatural world and its interactions with the natural world of consciousness. However, can it be interpreted as such or is it a representation of the depravity that lies within the darkness of the human heart?

12948This obscure story of evil first spawns out of the mind of a new governess at the house of Bly. She is then first represented as one without a history or identity, but is still taken under employment regardless. On her arrival she becomes instantly fascinated with her predecessor, Miss Jessel, and is thus incurred into her predecessors endeavors at Bly house.

Miss Jessel is first illustrated as “young and pretty”. However, on the account Mrs Grove (the house keeper) gives on the nursemaid subsequent to Miss Jessel – ‘a good girl and clever’ – one observes the implication that Miss Jessel is not as such, but quite the opposite. She is then furthermore described as “hard and haggard” in the governess’ encounter with Miss Jessel; this encounter also exhibits the identification – in “she sits where I sit” – that the governess finds within her predecessor. In such, it is revealed that this predecessor is the first personification of the dementia in the governess.

Herein the affirmation of the dementia of the governess, one also notices the governess’ acceptance of such; of which is revealed in her encounter with her predecessors lover, Peter Quint. She acknowledges, ” there was nothing in me that didn’t meet and measure him”. Here she makes herself equal to this  supposedly dark spirit before her, which clearly discloses the fact that this is a projection of her own dark psychological disorder and not necessarily an actual manifestation of a super natural entity.

Furthermore, her darkness is portrayed in the metaphor, “the darkness without being much less than within”. Throughout the novel she is incessantly divulging her own darkness. Therefore,  though a ghost tale may be more enticing, it is rather a tale representing the deprivation within the confinements of the darkness found in the human heart.

Written by: Ashleigh Koehn  



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