Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

Most literary critics focus on the children’s relation to the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw, but in doing so they overlook the lack of textual evidence that the ghosts ever interacted with the children. This essay endeavors to show that the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw are manifestations of the governess’s own subconscious and are related to her internal problems instead of the children. More specifically, the ghosts embody the governess’s fears about her attraction for her employer that conflicts with her understanding of class boundaries. The essay employs a Marxist reading to show how rigidly the governess adheres to the social class distinctions of her time. It then considers how the contradictions of her situation could drive her to the point of hallucination in order to reveal that the ghosts had nothing to do with the children and everything to do with the governess.

Origin of Submission

as part of a class

Faculty Involvement

Carl Sederholm

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Clashes of Class and Prohibited Passion in The Turn of the Screw

Most literary critics focus on the children’s relation to the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw, but in doing so they overlook the lack of textual evidence that the ghosts ever interacted with the children. This essay endeavors to show that the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw are manifestations of the governess’s own subconscious and are related to her internal problems instead of the children. More specifically, the ghosts embody the governess’s fears about her attraction for her employer that conflicts with her understanding of class boundaries. The essay employs a Marxist reading to show how rigidly the governess adheres to the social class distinctions of her time. It then considers how the contradictions of her situation could drive her to the point of hallucination in order to reveal that the ghosts had nothing to do with the children and everything to do with the governess.