The Role Of Governess In 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 the fact that she does not have children of her own, due to her profession, which 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 being a woman and professional; she feels pressure to conform to both sets of expectations despite reality which results in womb envy, baby fever and uncertainty regarding identity. A governess walks the line of mother and school master, making her relationship with her charges complex as she needs to retain an authoritative presence, as her primary job is to educate while also forming an emotional bond as a mother figure and caretaker. A governess was a substitute mother for when the children’s true mother was not there or the family could afford to have the mother be a woman of leisure, the goal for a wealthy woman in the Victorian-era. Written in 1898, The Turn of The Screw is influenced by the “sharply
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