The Governess In Henry James The Turn Of The Screw

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Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw presents a governess as the central character. For years, literary critics have argued over the sanity of the protagonist. While some believe that the governess is sane, having the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner, others believe that she is insane, in a state of being seriously mentally ill. Ultimately however, the governess is sane because she does her best to protect the children, because she is not the only witness, and because she is confident in her abilities. By doing her job of trying to protect Miles and Flora, the governess proves that she is a sane character because she is able to understand that the ghosts are out to get the children. As she continues to speak with Mrs. Grose about what she is thinking, “the more [she] goes over it, the more [she] sees in it…” (James 48). By taking in her surroundings and openly discussing the ghosts that are in the Bly residence, the governess is able to rationally come to the conclusion that the spirits are out to get Miles and Flora. She is able to draw this conclusion because she sees the children where they are not supposed to be: on the lawn; in the tower; on the staircase at night; etc.. One night, in order to make sure that Flora is not getting…show more content…
James’ use of suspense withholds the true intent of the ghosts, how Miles and Flora are seduced by them, and for people who believe that the governess is insane, the truth of the ghosts is never fully realized. The only truth the reader can rely on is the written word and the vision of governess, which becomes muffled when there is silence, a predictor of the governess’s supernatural visions. However, the integration of the common platitude “seeing is believing” is enough to ensure that the ghosts are, in fact,
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