The Governess In Henry James's The Turn Of The Screw

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The tiny shoes, the small clothes, and sweet little coos of joy; it’s enough to make anyone come down with baby fever. Having a child is one of the most beautiful miracles in life and one of the most primal urges. But what happens when the desire for a child goes a bit too far? From the very beginning, the governess, the narrator of The Turn of the Screw, shows a deep-seated fascination and borderline obsession for her new charges, Miles, age ten, and his sister Flora, age eight. The governess envies other women as she doesn’t have children of her own, due to her profession. Her desire to have children causes her to become obsessive and overprotective of the children. In The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the role of the governess occupies the liminal space between the expectations of…show more content…
According to Priscilla L. Walton, author of He took no notice of her; he looked at me: Subjectivities and Sexualities of ‘The Turn of the Screw, a gender criticism of the Turn of the Screw, “The governess of the novel serves as a representation of the “problematic nature of single women and their sexuality” (Walton 349). Women with a job and no husband threatened the patriarchal society because she could not fulfill her motherly duties of having and raising children. But in some ways becoming a governess can fill some of those desires relating to children. Through being a governess, a woman can fulfill the raising children aspect of a woman’s identity as she was a substitute mother to the children she is caring for. A governess gets to take care of the children and raise them so that they are successful in the future. But no matter how attached a governess became to her charges, she eventually has to let them go and face the fact that she is not the children’s actual mother. This potentially devastating realization plays with the concept of womb envy and baby
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