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Turn of the Screw by James (1 Viewer)


Mr Peace

I had a lit analysis class where we used to debate whether or not Quint and Jessel are figments of the Governess' imagination or actual ghosts. This book is easily one of best examples of deliberate ambiguity and can be read many different ways.

Does anyone here have a specific interpretation? Any fans of the book?


Funny you should mention this. I used this last winter hanging out in Quartzite, AZ in my RV to, among other things, acquaint myself with Mr. James. I picked up a collection, of which 'Turn of the Screw' was an entry.

"Deliberate ambiguity" I suppose is a correct summation. I tend to read literally, so I credited the ghosts with real existence. OTOH, the only point of view (as pointed out in the editorial preface) is the governess'.

On the whole, I wasn't tremendously impressed with the story. The threat of the ghosts was elevated and unclear (part of the deliberate ambiguity?). The bit about the boy presenting exactly the view he wanted to the governess was interesting, but ascribed a great deal of precociousness - more than believable. The inner narration is framed by another narrative - a gathering of unrelated characters, but we never to get a resolution from the original group. What was the purpose, what was the aim? What is the meaning of 'turn of the screw'?

Of the collection, I found 'The Real Thing' to be more 'accessible', I guess. A wonderfully poignant tale, with a fascinating turn in development.



Senior Member
I love this book. Yes, ambiguous, but that's what makes it so interesting. I like Henry James' style of writing in general. All his stuff is kind of ambiguous if you ask me.