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The Mistress of Darkness: The Governess in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw

The Governess in Henry James's . The Turn of the Screw.
After a few pages reading The Turn of the Screw we meet a character described by James in this way: “the youngest of several daughters of a poor country parson… fluttered anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicarage”. These words could arise tenderness at first sight, but this girl, so apparently defenseless, will reveal herself as the person taking the control of the whole story and of the lives of the other main characters. The governess, she will be called in this way throughout the story, has not a name and this because James, according to me, wants to keep the attention on what she represents: a mad woman with no identity.

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3 Presentation of the governess After a few pages reading The Turn of the Screw we meet a character described by James in this way: “the youngest of several daughters of a poor country parson… fluttered anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicarage”. These words could arise tenderness at first sight, but this girl, so apparently defenseless, will reval herself as the person taking the control of the whole story and of the lives of the other main characters. The governess, she will be called in this way throughout the story, has not a name and this because James, according to me, wants to keep the attention on what she represents: a mad woman with no identity. If we consider the description previously quoted, some elements characterizing the governess can be seen: “the youngest of several daughters of a poor country parson”. In which way can a poor country parson’s last daughter be educated? Certainly, since very young she must have been controlled by everybody, first of all by her father, then by her mother and brothers and sisters; the wretched girl is probably brought up in an atmosphere of moral rigidity, where nothing is allowed and religious education is the most important aspect and influences everyday life. In effects, what should she have been if not a governess? What a surprise then it must have been to be launched to Harley Street by her new employer, a vigorous rich Londoner bachelor. His charm, which is so uncommon to her, strikes her so much that she does not hesitate in accepting the offered job, even knowing that she will never see the man again. In fact, the noble bachelor does not want to be informed either about the education of his niece and nephew, or about possible problems concerning Bly estate. The girl is then aware of the fact that everything is in her hands now and that she must not absolutely disappoint her supposed lover. In this way, the real story begins, based on the governess’s sensations, because The Turn of the Screw is mainly a story of sensations. The young woman “feels, perceives”; during the whole novel, in fact, the governess says the verb to feel 1 eighty-two times. The story is in this way “filtered” by the 1 Thomas B. Cranfill in An Anatomy of The Turn of the Screw pp. 18-20 makes a deep analysis of the use of perception verbs by James and of the change of some of these verbs in the various versions of the novel.

Traduzione

Facoltà: Lingue e Letterature Straniere

Traduttore: Gioia Nasti Contatta »

Composta da 25 pagine.

 

Questa tesi ha raggiunto 1319 click dal 06/08/2007.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.