Use Of Ambiguity In Henry James The Turn Of The Screw

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Ambiguity is a literary device used to make one sentence have two meanings; it brings uncertainty to the reader, which can be just as horrific as gore and violence. One author whom is well known for his use of ambiguity is Henry James, who used it to create chaos in the minds of his readers. Some of his uses can completely change the outcome of his novels, most notably in The Turn of the Screw, allowing the reader to decide the fates of each character. Henry James uses ambiguity through tone and diction to provide the reader with a more confusing and, in turn, more horrific story. The Turn of the Screw’s ending is considered ambiguous, in addition to being so abrupt and fast due to its syntax and punctuation. Miles addresses either the governess or Peter Quint, but his dialogue isn’t distinctly directed, the interpretations of the end are greatly changed based on his one line. The governess is shielding Miles from the ghost, and she decides that she can make Miles confess his knowledge of the apparition, “I was so determined to have all my proof that I flashed into ice to challenge him. “Whom do you mean by ‘he’?” “Peter Quint—you devil!” His face gave again, round the room, its convulsed supplication.…show more content…
Henry James used ambiguity to provide a more sporadic and confusing environment in The Turn of the Screw. His uses are terrifying because humans are afraid of the unknown, and his goal was to horrify people to the core, only leaving them some of the pieces to make an answer. James relied not on ghosts being a scary topic, but on confusion and the imagination of the reader. Even in the end, he left the story as it was, creating a vast plot hole that the reader feels the need to make something out of, an ultimate use of ambiguity. It becomes a book that he didn’t write, but the reader wrote and chose their own interpretation of for a more personal

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