Turn Of The Screw Psychoanalytic Analysis

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Applying Freudian psychoanalytic theory to Henry James’s Turn of the Screw reveals that the governess’s psyche is thrown off by an unbalanced id and superego, due to her underlying desire to reach a place of higher power. The governess’s lack of an ego foreshadows persistent problems that will arise due to her overpowering id. By pursuing her own id driven desires, the governess is “trying to harmonize her own disharmonies by creating discords outside herself” (Heilman, pp.433) By doing so, she is pulling those around her to her level, which is her way of satisfying her a super-ego, and at the same time, is representative of her overarching desire to reach a higher economic class. Similarly, she is using the children as ways of reaching the…show more content…
At the start of the novella, the governess meets an attractive, wealthy young man at a party on Harley Street. His power seemed to capture the governess’s attention. His stature and wealth attracted the governess and, to her surprise, he offers her a job to look after children rather than a relationship. Although she has no experience with taking care of children, “the salary offered much exceeded her modest measure” (Page 8). Her willingness to take a job with little prior experience reveals the first sign of the governess’s overpowering id. Her subconscious wanted more than her “modest” lifestyle she had prior to meeting her employer, so at first opportunity, she attempted to escape by moving away for a new job. There also seems to be ulterior motives: her attraction to her future employer seems to drive her to take the job as well because “on a second interview she faced the music [and] she engaged” (Page 8). Henry James’ choice of the word “engage” infers a bond that that the governess may misconstrue to be less contractual and more sexual than her employer intends. Although the employer showed little sexual interest in the governess, it is apparent that governess has stronger feelings. As a result, the governess’s id pushes her to take the job in hopes of also getting closer to her employer. As the prologue of the novella comes to a conclusion,…show more content…
When the governess first gets to Bly, she presents herself in an incompetent and egotistical nature. From the moment she sets eyes on Flora, she is jealous yet possessive of her. The governess recognizes the young girl’s innate beauty and prestige, and instantaneously becomes fixated on making her a personal object. The governess begins to realize that not only had she taken a job where she is caring for a child, she has also has presumed that position of a mother figure where she had “undertaken the whole care of her” (page 13). The governess’s ploy to resume as the mother figure of this child is representative of the governess’s id, and her desire to become wealthy. By becoming a “mother”, she is also becoming part of the affluent family to which Flora belongs. Similarly, once the novella progresses and the governess first encounters Miles, she is skeptical of Miles’s wrong doings. But just as Mrs. Grose seems to accept Miles for a saint, the governess overlooks Miles’s expulsion from school in hopes of becoming closer with the child. When Miles comes home from school and Mrs. Grose is speaking with the governess, Mrs. Gross proceeds in asking the governess about her actions on the letter she

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