Turn Of the Screw, The Governess' repression

Essay by mpagriHigh School, 12th grade October 2004

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Frustration causes many to lose grip on reality. When one aspires to complete a goal, but fails, frustration ensues. Turn of the Screw by Henry James showcases the narrator's futile attempts to carry out her plans. With every turn of the screw, the story goes deeper, and truth fades into transparency. At face value, the story shows ghosts corrupting the house's youth. However, the Governess' frustration-induced duplicity proves to make her unreliable, and therefore unfit for narration.

Describing the origin of her frustrations, the Governess recalls her only encounter with the master, and from that moment she becomes enamored and obsessed. Recollecting a message from the headmaster, she says, "I broke the seal with a great effort--so great a one that I was a long time coming to it" (10). Breaking the seal (losing her virginity) causes the Governess to fall in love with the master, wanting him more with each passing day.

"It gave me a second sleepless night. With no counsel to take, the next day, I was full of distress" (10). Despite her efforts to live alone with no male influence, the Governess gets driven to utter aggravation.

Although the entire narration assumes the ghosts to be real, many contradictions occur, showing clearly how the Governess's encounters and her descriptions to others are two distinct opposites. "My second was a violent perception of the mistake of my first: the man who met my eyes was not the person I had precipitately supposed"(16). What she fails to describe in her first encounter proves more important than her actual description. The Governess never describes what she sees, only the circumstances around it. "I saw him as I see the letters I form on this page"(16). While she does describe "his wearing no hat"(16), nothing else she says pertains to...