Non-Apparitionism In The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James

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It has been said many times that truth is stranger than fiction; likewise, odd events that have logical and natural explanations are often more intriguing than those with merely supernatural ones. Henry James wisely recognized the value of this tenet of literature and exploited it beautifully in The Turn of the Screw, a disturbing tale of psychological deterioration masquerading as a simple ghost story. One of the most hotly debated works in history, The Turn of the Screw employs an extremely unreliable narrator coupled with a jarring and abrupt ending to create a suspensefully ambiguous story in which James relies upon the reader’s imagination to fashion the missing pieces of the narrative. It is his refusal to provide critical plot elements…show more content…
The governess is certainly placed under a great deal of stress upon taking the job at Bly, having been made responsible for the entire household and overseeing the upbringing of its two young children, Miles and Flora. As a condition of her position, she has been forbidden from ever contacting the man she is ludicrously infatuated with (the master of Bly), a situation that would weigh heavily on any individual. Also strongly in favor of the non-apparitionists is the odd fact that the governess is the only character in the story who is ever actually confirmed to have seen the ghosts. Without fail, every time another character is in the presence of the specters and questioned about them, they deny any knowledge of the spirits’ existence. Even the benevolent housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, whom it would seem has no reason at all to deceive the governess, fails to perceive one of the ghosts during a direct encounter by the lakeside. It would certainly seem that there is little to refute the claim that the phantoms exist only within the confines of the governess’s overly active imagination. That is, until one considers a scene near the beginning of the tale in which Mrs. Grose quickly identifies one of the ghosts by description…show more content…
One night, while talking to Miles, the governess is disturbed by a blast of wind from a closed window and Miles’s extinguishing of the room’s lone candle and decides the ghosts are responsible, but it is entirely possible that the window closed after being jostled by the wind, and that Miles’s behavior is simply him being naughty again. Late in the story, Flora disappears to the lake while Miles is playing piano for the governess; the governess hallucinates Miss Jessel, her predecessor, upon collecting Flora and blames the ghost for leading her there, though it may again have only been misbehavior on Flora’s part. Any time the governess claims to have caught one of the children being aware of the spirits’ presence, it is always in the form of something that could be construed as merely absent-minded staring into space or the playful use of a young imagination. Never once in the whole of the book is there an event that could only have transpired due to supernatural

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