Turn of the Screw

Turn of the Screw

Unrequited Love in The Turn of the Screw

In "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James, the central character, the governess, feels so isolated that she will do anything necessary to quench the feeling. She decides that the way to do so is to be in love. Unfortunately, because she is located in Bly, such a desire is not possible to actualize. When the governess realizes this she begins to manifest her unrequited feelings in the shape of ghostly apparitions. Her point of view also plays an important role in how the reader observes the ghosts. Subconsciously, the governess has chosen to be an unreliable narrator, seeing fantastical phantoms which participate in an enamored relationship allows her to feel as though she herself was a part of it. When the governess becomes tired with these ghosts, however, she turns to other characters to fulfill her aspiration.

The governess sees ghosts in order to satisfy her yearning desire to be in love. The young governess is instantly attracted to the "handsome, bold and pleasant" (p. 7) bachelor uncle of the orphaned children by whom she is hired. This overwhelming feeling was the original motivation for her accepting the job as governess. The reader's introduction to the governess' most basic feelings shows the reader that this is one of her primary concerns at the point in her life that the novella begins. The governess' craving to be cherished by a man is induced by the uncle's "charming ways with women" (p. 7). His graciousness gives her a taste of how she would like to be treated in life. When the governess leaves to accept the position she is at an undeveloped age, with a background consisting of country poverty and only one position related to children (as a schoolteacher) prior to the event at hand. This results in a lack of knowledge as to what she wants from life. The gentlemanly uncle gives her an 'ideal' to aspire towards.

The governess is an unreliable narrator; her dreams to be in love...

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