The Turn of the Screw
Using Barthes to Explain "Turn of the Screw"
In S/Z, Roland Barthes so thoroughly maps out his narrative theory that he leaves little room for problematic tales such as Turn of the Screw. While Barthes' example text Sarrasine revolves around a central unknown - the identity of the strange old man from the party - it differs from Henry James' text in that the former is grounded in real-life events and traceable history (albeit a fictional one). Turn of the Screw, in contrast, is difficult to categorize using Barthes' plan because it exists in the realm of the inexplicable: a world of ghosts, psychosis, and suspect imagination.
S/Z was supposedly written to debunk the notion of realism, to prove that a narrative, like a painting, statue or play, is merely a pastiche of some long-lost original. However, for all his efforts, Barthes fails to acknowledge the shadowy spectrum into which Turn of the Screw falls - a spectrum where narratives originate in fantasy, not in the tangible historical topos of cultural, semic and symbolic voices from which Barthes claims a final narrative product is woven. Stories where even a basic level of veracity cannot be confirmed, where characters, events and references may be entirely fabricated, become a jumble of perverted...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 861 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6554 literature essays, 1778 sample college application essays, 269 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in