The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw: Novel vs. Film Adaptation 12th Grade

Henry James’ 1898 novel The Turn of the Screw is renowned for its ambiguity and its effectiveness as a psychological thriller. As a result, it has been adapted into many films, including one of the same name directed by Tim Fywell in 2009. This adaptation based upon the original text promotes the idea of supernaturalism whilst trivialising the unique storyline, thus making is less engaging to an audience than James' text. Many events, values, and themes present within both forms are articulated in different ways and to varying degrees. These are shown throughout many aspects, including the historical period, characterisation of the children and the ambiguity of the ghosts – all of which contribute to a thrilling and complex story, at least where the 1898 text is concerned.

In the film adaptation, the historical era of The Turn of the Screw was transposed to a period of time twenty years later. This affected the prominence of crucial themes, including sexual repression, within the novel. As depicted by James in Victorian England, the society of the time was extensively repressive for women and condemned the idea of sexual interaction. The statement “It was a pleasure…tranquil and justified…I was giving pleasure…to the person who...

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