Turn of the Screw - How Has Henry James Presented the Governess? (Chapters 1-17)

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Henry James has depicted the Governess to be a not very straight forward character; in fact she is presented with extreme ambiguity that leaves readers with many questions planted in our heads as to who the Governess really is. This ambiguity leaves the judgement of the Governess very different to each individual reader’s interpretations. James has shown many characteristics which are initially learnt from Douglas in the prologue, along with the contextual background of the story, which all influences the way James has presented the Governess, therefore adding to our depictions of how James has wished to present the Governess. An aspect of the Governess Henry James has presented is her very imaginative mind-set, this comes from her many assumptions James has made the Governess express. She constantly assumes countless events without basing this on exact evidence, often putting words into Mrs Grose’s mouth and jumping to conclusions. Chapter 5 the Governess says ‘But now that you’ve guessed-‘and Mrs Grose corrects her saying ‘Ah, I haven’t guessed!’ This portrays the Governess using her own imagination to assume inaccurate events. Her assumptions also link to a paranoia in her character, Scene 7 she says ‘They know- it’s too monstrous: they know, they know!’ This poses questions such as: how can she be so sure that ‘they know’? Why does she think this? Why is it too monstrous? The desperate tone in this quote expresses a sense of paranoia which could explain her reasons for jumping to decisions. Her imagination also causes her to be very exaggerated and fanciful; her relationship with the children changes throughout the book using hyperbole to express different opinions. In Chapter 17 the Governess says, ‘I’d rather die than hurt a hair of you’ this appears to be rather strange especially in comparison to other moments of the book where she says that Miles ‘was a
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