The Turn Of The Screw Theme Analysis

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Power leads to pride leads to poison; in Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, this line of thought is central to the novel’s thematic scope. James reflects on the theme of power through the literary device of foil. Further, he delves into pride through narrative perspective. These two themes, pride and power, poison the narrator’s mind to the point of madness. As such, the exploration of these themes, as well as their capacity for corruption—corruption of one’s sanity—implies a cautionary tale. Here, James warns of the insanity-inducing capability of power and hubris. James indeed suggests the theme of power by employing foil. Specifically, he examines the source of power and the connection between power and social class by contrasting the characters of the governess and Mrs. Grose. Despite their similarities as women and as caretakers, their difference in power is vast. This disparity is apparent to the…show more content…
They are two chief factors that make her an unreliable narrator; as such, readers must then question her every claim. And so begs the question: are the ghosts real? A deeper read into the governess’ situation—especially her separation from her family and employer, as well as her entrapment in a claustrophobic country home—answers that they are not. Instead, the aforementioned factors cause the governess to turn inward, to over-rely on her senses of power and pride. The apparitions, therefore, are a result of such overreliance. She drives herself mad with the idea of ghosts and their supposed corruption of the children; at one point, she “[flings] herself about” and “[breaks] down in the monsterous utterance of names” (81). These signs of insanity show that her perceptions and reasoning are in a severely unhealthy state. Thus, the ghosts are more than likely figments of the governess’ imagination, manifestations of perceived threats to the authority and conceit she

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