The Ghosts in The turn of the Screw
The Ghosts in the Turn of the Screw
It’s a fact that the novel is controversial when it comes to making various decisions concerning the ghosts that are visible by the governess. Settling on one single direction is hard as others are also plausible. However, the idea that the ghosts are real is arguable and clearly supported by the information provided by the novel itself. Mrs. Grose is one side with governess when it comes to the reality of the ghosts. Conventionally, one would actually expect the duo to disagree on the matter because the governess is seen by other characters as a narrator who is insane. They agree on the existence of the ghosts because of their similar social and economic status. In reality the existence of ghosts in their surrounding is a fallacy, and only portrayed to capture the status of those servants working in the household.
It is true that Grose and the governess are susceptible to believing of the existence of the ghosts because of their nature as servants. From a Marxist point of view, the idea of ghosts generally developed because it is synonymous to a servant, and the two subconsciously believed of their existence (Dillon 15). The servants from Bly are equated to ghosts because of their tendency of being hidden and not noticed in the outside world.
Through the use of Marxism, the novel is portrayed as having people who are of low class and considered as servants like a governess and Mrs. Grose who are servants but on a higher scale and Quint together with Miss Jessel who are on the lower scale in the socio-economic radar (Finucane 304). The novel is interesting because the Governess sees herself as being on top of other servants while Mrs. Grose considers Miss Jessel as being superior to Quit, but to the people living around them they are all servants and on the lower level of the socio-economic radar.
The author is trying to bring out a clear picture which is often denied by many in the society concerning the placement of servants.
The society determines servants as people who are never acknowledged and left to perform their various chores behind the scenes just like ghosts (Renner 175). The idea of ghosts is being used in the work as a symbol of servant hood. The Governess is herself a ghost and tends to believe their existence through her subconscious mind. Even though she is an upper-class worker, she is never visible and this also applies to all the other servants from Bly.
They are less than human beings and in a similar position where they work behind the scenes to provide for their masters. The gardener, the housemaids, the old pony and the dairywoman were equal to each other and when they are compared and equal to a pony they are never seen as human beings but ‘ghosts’ whose main duty is to provide different services to their masters.
The author blurs the single line between ghosts and servants, and this fact makes Mrs. Grose equal to a ghost, hence her agreement of their existence and Governess idea of them. The Governess informed Mrs. Grose about the ghosts she in her own words confirms by saying she “accepted without directly impugning my sanity the truth as I gave it to her” (50). The ghosts, therefore, are similar to her class which is lower, hence the quick response and acceptance to their existence subconsciously.
The author clearly equates the servants to ghosts and this is seen as he places the Governess several places where the ghosts have been. The Governess would not be happy to be associated or put together with Jessel or Quint, whom she sees as lower-class servants. When she sunk on the bottom level of their stairs she claims that “with a revulsion, recalling that it was exactly where…..I had seen the specter of the most horrible of women” (87). The Governess was not happy when she was compared to Miss Jessel, and this was after she found the ghost of Jessel in the table. This fact again confirms that the servants in the house were comparable to ghosts as they were present, but were not seen or recognized. They are given the mandate to perform various functions without them being noticed like ghosts.
The Governess clearly sees the ghost because they are a reflection of herself and her position in the house and in the society at large. The Governess conceives the ideas of ghosts as not being the “painful paradox” of her position, and accepts that she can be replaced anytime, hence her unimportant nature. Since Mrs. Grose is of the same status to the Governess, she believes her narration and also sees these ghosts because they reflect their position and status.
Exploring further into the socio-economic position of Mrs. Grose it is clear that she represents other servants as ghosts. This is because she herself is not visible but only among her fellow servants. When the governess was not around after Miss Jessel left the new Governess found Mrs. Grose as being on top of the scale because she was close to the children. When the Governess arrived, she was made to be second in command, and this made her status lower compared to that of the Governess. This made her accept the words and thoughts of the Governess because of her status in the house. This could also mean that Mrs. Grose was not happy with a new position and she was ready to agree to her words to full her and make various lies to ensure that she was reinstated back to her position. By agreeing to the information about ghosts, Mrs. Grose could easily sabotage her position and reclaim the higher status she once enjoyed (Rorres 80).
The new interpretation indicates that Mrs. Grose lies to the Governess, and this makes her agree to all her information about ghosts without hesitating. The only reason as to why the ghosts can be interpreted as being true is when the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Quit are clearly described by the Governess even though they had never met. The suspicion to this information is that it is only Mrs. Grose who confirms the story together with the relationship that existed between Quint and Jessel.
In conclusion, Interpretations to the works of the novel are endless, but the fact remains that the relationship between Mrs. Grose and the Governess was not positive, and this may have made the duo lie to one another while agreeing on issues that were not in existence. Mrs. Grose agreed to all the information given to her without questioning the weird sightings and readily accepts them as the truth. It is, therefore, true that their perception of things was not as a result of reality but personal gain and position in the society.
Dillon, Michael. “The turn of the screw.” Polymers Paint Colour Journal 192.4450 (2002): 14-18. Print.
Finucane, Ronald C. “The haunted: a social history of ghosts.” Mortality 2009: 303-304. Print.
Renner, Stanley. “Sexual Hysteria, Physiognomical Bogeymen, and the ‘Ghosts’ in the Turn of the Screw.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 43.2 (1988): 175-194. Print.
Rorres, Chris. “The Turn of the Screw: Optimal Design of an Archimedes Screw.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 2000: 72-80. Print.
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