The Turn of the Screw

The Devil Didn’t Make Her Do It: A Critical Analysis of The Turn Of The Screw

The critical debates swirling around Henry James’ The Turn Of The Screw are a product of the intentional ambiguities written into the text. The psychological thriller centers around a Governess who, upon entering into a position for a man with whom she has become enamored, has encounters with what she believes are the apparitions of the homes former servants. Believing them to be in danger, she responds by taking on the role of hero to the children in her charge, but her credibility is quickly put into question when it is apparent that no one else sees her visions and that her actions are, in fact, putting the children in a position of danger. James’ novella has been viewed by some critics as a ghost story that places the Governess in the role of the evil villain; taking into account her many acts of heroism in the story, I believe that to be a misread of the novella. The narrative reflexivity blurs the line of credibility in the story leaving the reader to wonder which narrators voice to trust, but throughout the story the Governess’ motives remain clear. She maintains that she is protecting the children and her heroic disposition discounts the accusation that she is acting out of evil. Her actions put into question her...

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