The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw: Political Fable, Revenge Tale, or None of the Above? 11th Grade

Henry James had written The Turn of the Screw in such a way that some Marxist critics have argued that it reflects the controversies and anxieties of the extra-textual world. However, while in an epoch in which upward mobility was very difficult, if not impossible, the servants Peter Quint and Miss Jessel may want to move up in the social hierarchy, their actions cannot be viewed as revenge. After all, they attack the lives of those within their own social class: the Governess and Mrs Grose.

The most effective method of taking revenge on social superiors would be to personally attack the supreme figurehead: the Master. The governess tells Mrs Grose, “[the children are] not mine - they're not ours. They're his and they're hers!” which denotes that the ghosts have succeeded in possessing the children, emphasized by the parallelism of “they’re” followed by a possessive pronoun, highlighting the terse and balanced contrast from the negative clauses in which it is clear the children aren't the governess’ and Mrs Grose’s, to the positive in which the children are the ghosts’. While possessing the master’s niece and nephew could be the ghosts’ method of taking revenge, the master in fact would not care. The stark imperatives in his...

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