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

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The governess’s sanity in Henry James’s Turn of the Screw is often disputed over in literature. Because the governess sees ghosts in the novel, she is often argued as insane. The definition of sanity proves otherwise, stating that it is the “state of being sound of mind or having appropriate judgment skills” (Psychology Dictionary). The governess is sane because she behaves rationally, protects the children above all costs, and is not the only character witnessing a supernatural presence. The governess behaves in a rational manner, and therefore could not be deemed insane by the widespread definition of sanity. As a sane person, the governess acts with rationality and without impulse. Though she feels that the ghosts may inhabit themselves…show more content…
As soon as the governess sees the Peter Quint, she puts the safety of the children above all else. After seeing Mr. Quint, the governess describes herself as “a screen—[she] was to stand before them [for] the more [she] saw, the less they would” (James 27). The governess behaves rationally and is able to carry out her job successfully. This is something only a sane person could do, as an insane person could not carry out the task of protecting the children and keeping them safe from whatever dangers there may be. The governess also states that, “[she] was there to protect and defend the little creatures” (James 27). The governess understands her place in the household. She knows what her job is and does not fail to carry out her duties in terms of protecting the children. A sane person is one who can carry out their regular duties without being affected by their mental state. Because of the governess fits this description, it is obvious that she can only be classified as sane because she not only feels compassion for the children, but fulfills her duties by putting their needs before her own. An insane person could not be trusted with a child and would be incapable of carrying out such a
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