Essay On The Governess In Henry James The Turn Of The Screw

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In Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, many people agree that the Governess is an unreliable narrator, because of her actions, her tendency to jump to conclusions, a possible mental illness in the family, and the fact that everything that goes on in the story is just so strange. There are many things that may be intentionally left out by the Governess, such as sexual abuse of the children, because she is an unreliable narrator who hallucinates ghosts.
The Governess is not mentally stable, making her extremely unreliable. The Governess herself states that she is “easily carried away,” (James 14) and often admits to hearing things in the house that she is not sure are real, "but these fancies were not marked enough not to be thrown off” (James 13). This immediately sets her up as someone we cannot trust. The Governess is also sexually repressed, as
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The Governess’ first encounter with the ‘ghost’ of Peter Quint happens whilst she is thinking about the uncle of the children, who she is highly infatuated with - she says she wishes to see someone who “would appear there at the turn of a path and would stand before me and smile and approve” (James 39). Not only is she seeking approval, but some believe the entire fabrication of the ghosts is a sort of challenge for herself, something for the uncle to reward her for; this is why she does not see the uncle there to congratulate her, but her subconscious creating something even more strange. “...[S]omething that is greater than merely following the master's orders and something that will perhaps yield a greater reward, once the master sees how she has been victorious.” says Poquette. The Governess may even be more prone to such hallucinations due to family lines, as we find out in a brief sentence that her father had an “eccentric nature” (James 86), suggesting she could have a history of mental illness in the
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