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The Turn of the Screw
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Monthly Reads > The Turn of the Screw - 01 - Part One

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Zeljka (ztook) | 2804 comments Mod
Part One of the book reading consists of the first twelve chapters, with the prologue of course. As I haven't read the book yet, I do not know is chapter twelve proper cut for the next part, but I guess we'll have to figure that out ourselves :-)

You may post here any thoughts and questions as well as the quotes you like. Of course, they should be from the above mentioned chapters.


Denis (crnisokol) | 15 comments Well I read first half of the book and it isn't bad, but also not great. Characters are pretty simplistically described, except of the main character. And the plot is too predictive.


message 3: by Zeljka (last edited Jul 15, 2012 10:29PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Zeljka (ztook) | 2804 comments Mod
I must agree... At first it seemed intriguing, the prologue was interesting - I remember thinking how I envy those days, when people would actually gather around the hearth and listen to each other stories. The story itself develops so slowly, I found myself thinking the author actually had a number of pages to fill for each chapter and had no idea how to achieve it but by repeating things over and over. I try not to think much about the plot, everything is predictive today, but it's... dull. As you said, too simplistic, for me sometimes even annoying. I've read the first twelve chapters so far, and they could have easily been summarized in three without losing a bit of the story.


Denis (crnisokol) | 15 comments Zeljka wrote: "everything is predictive today"

A Song of Ice and Fire isn't :D


Zeljka (ztook) | 2804 comments Mod
Denis wrote: "Zeljka wrote: "everything is predictive today"

A Song of Ice and Fire isn't :D"


Haha true indeed :-)


Alana (alanasbooks) | 730 comments Mod
Just getting started on this one. I have no previous experience with Henry James and that prologue just seemed to drag for me, but once I figured out he was going to tell a ghost story and we were changing narrators, it started flowing a bit better. I'm not into gothic or ghost stories per se, but this one does seem intriguing in premise. At least it's a short book. :)


Alana (alanasbooks) | 730 comments Mod
I've been finding the Sparknotes very helpful on this one. Interesting the different views on this story. Is she really seeing these ghosts and protecting the children? Or is she slowly going mad and feeding her heroic delusions with ever-increasing fearful apparitions from which she must protect her too-perfect children?

From the first sentence of her narrative, in Chapter I, the governess calls attention to her own sharp swings in mood and attitude, a focus that makes her seem sensitive, emotional, nervous, and introspective but not necessarily reliable. Her perceptions of things at Bly are clearly shaped by her emotions and her imagination, and often her judgments seem excessively hasty or intense. Her reaction to Flora, in particular, seems excessive, as she describes Flora in such idealized terms (“radiant,” “beatific”) that we get little sense of Flora as a real child. The governess feels affection for Mrs. Grose, but her feelings often change quickly, though briefly, to suspeicion. The governess reports hearing footsteps and crying outside her room, and she gets the sense that Mrs. Grose is too glad to see her, both of which provide foreshadowing and create the sense that something is going on that we have yet to learn about. However, the governess’s sensitivity and volatility also create a feeling of uncertainty about whether we can trust her point of view. This question is one of the central problems of The Turn of the Screw, and it develops and deepens rather than resolves.

The governess’s reaction to the headmaster’s letter is both odd and revealing. A more practical governess might follow up with the school, make persistent inquiries, obtain actual facts, and try to resolve the situation. Instead, this governess lets her imagination run wild, conjuring up the darkest possibilities, hinting at the sexual nature of his misdeed when she refers to the possibility of his corrupting the other students. Despite her curiosity and ability to imagine horrible scenarios, she avoids pursuing the facts. She seems to want the situation to be complicated and difficult rather than simple, apparently because she wants a heroic challenge that gives her the opportunity to win the gratitude of the absent employer with whom she’s in love.


The nature of the children’s relationship with Quint and Jessel is only hinted at, and it can be interpreted in different ways. We know from Mrs. Grose that Miles spent a lot of time with Quint, despite Mrs. Grose’s disapproval of a servant and master being so friendly. We also gather that Quint was “too free” with Miles and everyone else, that Quint and Jessel had an affair, and that Quint did what he liked with people. All of these statements are vague and ambiguous. Seen in the most positive light, Mrs. Grose’s account can be interpreted to mean merely that Quint was a bad influence on Miles because of his lower-class manners. At worst, Mrs. Grose’s words might imply that Quint exposed Miles to sexual knowledge by telling him about sex, by letting Miles witness him having sex, or even by having sex with Miles. Similarly, Mrs. Grose’s assertion that Quint was “free” with everyone and did what he liked with people could mean merely that he was rude and spoke to people however he wanted, or it could mean that he seduced or sexually abused the other servants. The governess is quick to interpret the situation in a sexual way, insisting that Miles and Flora understood the true nature of Quint and Jessel’s relationship and that they helped to cover it up. She sees the situation as much worse than does Mrs. Grose, perceiving herself as bolder and more willing to face the truth than Mrs. Grose. We don’t know the truth for certain, and our sense that there are no limits to how bad the situation might be creates a feeling of vertigo and terror in us.

Sorry for the length, but it was just expressed so well and brought up so many points I never would have thought of. Frankly, even before reading these companion notes, I felt that the governess' infatuation with these ghosts and her ever-increasing determination that the children are lying to be a little over the top. Whether she's crazy, I'm not sure, but something (aside from the obvious supernatural elements) is clearly very off here.


Zeljka (ztook) | 2804 comments Mod
Alana wrote: "I've been finding the Sparknotes very helpful on this one. Interesting the different views on this story. Is she really seeing these ghosts and protecting the children? Or is she slowly going mad a..."

Great notes - really helpful, they express so much better what do we think of the story :) Thanks for writing them down!


Alana (alanasbooks) | 730 comments Mod
I love how we can have twice as many pages of commentary on a book as there were in the original story, lol!


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