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Influence of James' The Turn of the Screw Story to the Readers

And in the later scene with Miles, the governess similarly allows the boy to have the power in the relationship, inadvertently giving him the impression that the evil secret he harbors gives him a power over her that he would not have without that secret.

c. Certainly in this story James does show that perception is all. This is particularly true because reality as the reader is introduced to it comes exclusively from the perspective of the governess, whose mind is intensely vulnerable to every external impression. She believes she can control reality by what she says about it, but in fact she is being controlled precisely by what she perceives but does not expressly acknowledge. For example, in what she calls her "revolutionary" experience on page 64, she could have disarmed the lurking evil with an honest conversation about Miles" question about going back to school. Instead, she silences herself: "But oh how I felt that at present I must pick my own phrases!" (65). Had she been less cautious in confronting the evil---in expressing her perceptions in ways that brought in reality and reduced the power of her frightened imagination---she might have weakened the hold evil had on the children and on herself. Another example of this is found in the scene in Chapter XX, in which the governess sees the dead Miss Jessel, Mrs. Grose does not, and Flora apparently does see but pretends, perhaps, not to. Reality is secondary---what counts is perception. The governess is horrified, Mrs. Grose is amazed that the governess sees something she herself does not see, and the little girl fixes the governess with "an expression of hard still gravity" which gives her the bearing of a "figure portentous" (84). Three perceptions produce three different responses, all reflecting the inner lives of the three far more accurately than the "reality" of Miss Jessel's presence.

a. Certainly Hawthorne uses all of these literary devices to give greater signific...

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Influence of James' The Turn of the Screw Story to the Readers. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:51, August 20, 2017, from
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