“The Turn of the Screw” Student Reviews 2009

The following reviews by COHS students are on “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James.
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 94-219 (depending on edition)
Reviewer: Jessica F.

The Turn of the Screw is about a governess that believes that she is seeing ghosts. In the beginning of the story when she sees the ghost for a second time, she believes that it was after Miles. After this incident, the governess keeps a close eye on both kids that he has to watch over. The governess sees a second ghost, and believes it to be going after the second child that she is watching, Flora. When the governess is out with Flora, she again sees the second ghost. She asks Flora if she sees it, and Flora denies it. Flora then says that she hates the governess. The day after the incident, Flora is struck sick. She is taken to her uncle’s house, and the governess stays behind with Miles. Miles sees the first ghost and drops dead into the governess’s arms.

The Turn of the Screw was a very interesting book. In my opinion, the author wrote the book very well. He used very good imagery words to make me feel that I was actually there and witnessing the story. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a good ghost story.

1. The author’s purpose in writing this book is to inform the reader that corruption of child innocence is always going to be around.
2. The theme of this book is child corruption.
3. The author supports the thesis by writing that Miles can be bad if he wants to. James also writes that Miles was kicked out of school, for reasons that are unknown.
4. The main issue that this book raises is that innocent children are being unfairly corrupted. It takes a passive stance in addressing and solving the issue.

Reviewer:  Natalie J.

In The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, a woman goes to care for two children on the estate of Bly. Soon after she arrives all of her worries are erased by the fact that the children are beautiful and very pure. However, soon after she sees a man known as Peter Quint, appears to her even though she is dead. She confides this to Mrs. Grose, her new friend who expresses skepticism yet eventually identifies the man based on the governess’ description. Shortly afterwards the previous governess, Mrs. Jessel, appears to her, but she too is dead. After these events happen a few more times, she becomes convinced that Peter Quint and the previous governess are trying to take control over the children’s souls. The as the climax draws nearer, Mrs. Jessel appears again, but this time the current governess points her out to one of the children, Flora, and Mrs. Grose, yet they say they do not see her, which makes one question the governess’ sanity. Suddenly Flora falls ill and she and Mrs. Grose set out to see the girl’s uncle and ask for his help. The ones who remain are the governess and Flora’s brother Miles. Then as nighttime approaches she goes to Miles room and what she sees and the consequences following it are horrific to both her and  the boy.

In my opinion, Henry James did an excellent job in writing it, mostly because it can be interpreted in two ways: the governess is losing her insanity by seeing things that aren’t there or her theory is correct and the children know it yet don’t admit they are seeing their deceased friends. I believe the author does a great job in making us think twice, a principle we can use in everyday life.

1. Henry James purpose in writing this book is to entertain his audience with the governess’ conclusions and actions as a result of those conclusions
2. The theme of this book is don’t panic and don’t jump to conclusions because the consequences can be disastrous. Another possibility is that do not wait until the last minute to seek answers or help.
3. The theme of don’t wait until the last minute to seek answers is developed very slowly and becomes more evident towards the end of the novella. At the beginning, the governess refuses to tell her boss about the strange happenings at Bly, however at the end she is forced to when Flora, the little girl she is caring for, falls ill, and according to the governess the apparition of the previous governess brought this about.
4. Henry James makes the reader doubt whether or not the governess really sees the apparitions. He does this by having her see the apparitions and then when she informs Mrs. Grose, her new friend at the estate, she is skeptical. Also, when the governess points out one of the apparitions to Mrs. Rose and one of the children they say they do not see a thing. However the stance the author takes on these issues is unclear is there is evidence pointing to the fact the apparitions are real and to the fact the governess is slowly losing her insanity.


About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
This entry was posted in Classic Fiction, Fiction, Horror/Mystery/Suspense. Bookmark the permalink.

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