How Does Henry James Use the Prologue to Prepare the Reader for Future Events in the Novel?

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How does James use the prologue to prepare the reader for the events of the novel? In ‘The Turn of the Screw’ prologue, Henry James presents to the reader a scene set for a gothic novel. Though, the novel is a ghost story, we sometimes forget that it is a ghost story and begin to believe what happens in it, he achieves this by using a narrative technique which makes the novel interesting as well as very convincing. He uses the frame narrative structure, the first person point of view and the flash back technique. However, upon further reading, the reader may begin to wonder about the narrator’s reliability. The use of theatrical language in the prologue also contribute to suspense and tension heightening the novel’s intension for a gothic motif, showing the reader what to expect when they pursue the story further. The Gothic genre is known for building the atmosphere, and setting the tone and mood of a story from the start. In ‘The Turn of the Screw’, Henry James starts off the novel in this typical Gothic tradition, by preparing the reader, in the prologue, to what will be a very frightening tale. ‘The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as on Christmas Eve in an old house a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to note it as the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.’ However the simple, gothic reading of the prologue cannot prepare the reader for the future events; this is due to the fact that its purpose is to leave the reader in the unknown. We can see this by the quote ‘I quite agree- in regard to Griffin’s ghost, or whatever it was’. The phrase itself mentions that of a supernatural being but does not allow us or the audience to be sure of what it was. This being used in the opening immediately
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