Let Freedom Ring, and essay on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw

Essay by dubcity566High School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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Let Freedom Ring

Freedom is a strange concept. Almost everybody wants it for themselves but when one

has power over someone else, they tend to hold onto this power and not grant freedom. This is

the case with the governess in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. As the governess, she has

control over her student Miles and she does not want to give him his freedom. Freedom is

defined as the ability to do what one wants. The governess is also battling ghosts throughout the

story, whom are assumed to be real. Throughout the story, Miles is being freed by the ghosts but

restricted by the governess. Ultimately, the governess wins this fight and Miles is not free.

The ghosts and other negative influences in Miles's life are what makes him free. In a

conversation with Mrs. Gross, Mrs. Gross tells the governess and that "Quint was much too free."

The governess responds to this with "a sudden sickness of disgust." (323). This line shows two

things. First, it shows that Quint, one of the ghosts, is associated with freedom. Second, Mrs.

Gross offers no definition of the word "free." It could just mean that Quint liked to give: maybe

he spoiled Miles. The governess takes it to mean something awful, implying that she does not like

the concept of freedom. Another element of being free is the freedom to say what one wants.

Miles takes advantage of this freedom, but only in a negative way. First and foremost, he is

expelled from school for saying "things" that were "too bad... to write home" (400-401). Since he

is only talking to people he "liked" (400) he feels free to speak out and say what he wants. These

things turn out to be bad and hence the...