The Turn of the Screw By Henry James Summary and Analysis Sections 11-12

Summary

After the recent incidents, the governess keeps close watch on her charges. She feels as though she could not withstand the pressure of these days if it were not for the comfort of Mrs. Grose, who apparently believes the governess' story without reservation. Even though Mrs. Grose is a good woman, she is lacking in imagination and thus could not comprehend fully the extent of the implications involved in the present danger. Thus, the governess has to explain the meaning of last night's escapades.

As soon as she saw Miles in the yard, the governess went to the terrace, where Miles was able to see her. He came directly to her. Using the direct approach, she asked the reason for his being out on the lawn so late at night. Little Miles told her he did it so she would think him bad. His simple and sweet explanation was followed immediately by a genuine kiss.

Miles explained how he had arranged the matter with Flora. His sister was to get up and look out the window. In this way the governess would be aroused and would then see him.

After completing her narration of the preceding night to Mrs. Grose, the governess suggests that the children talk to Quint and Miss Vessel all the time. She realizes that neither pupil has even made an allusion to their old friends. She concludes that her pupils belong to them and not to her.

Mrs. Grose is shocked and wonders why "Quint and that woman" continue to return. "What can they now do?" she asks. The governess explains that they return simply "for the love of all the evil that, in those dreadful days, the pair put into them." And unless something is done, the children will be destroyed. Mrs. Grose wants the governess to write immediately to the children's uncle and have him come down to solve the situation. The governess is horrified at this suggestion and reminds Mrs. Grose that the master does not like to be bothered and that he might think the story to be some "fine machinery [she] had set in motion to attract his attention to her slighted charms." So she tells Mrs. Grose that the master is not to be disturbed. In fact, she would leave immediately if he were informed of the present difficulties.

Analysis

These chapters are devoted partially to exploring the relationship between the governess and Mrs. Grose. We find out that Mrs. Grose is a good-natured woman who is lacking in imagination, insight, and intuition. Accordingly, she accepts the governess' interpretation of any event. She is too amiable and simple to question the governess' view. Every conclusion that is made about the predicament comes from the governess. Mrs. Grose merely acquiesces.

The most significant revelation found in this section is the governess' attitude toward her employer and her apprehension that he might regard the entire story as a contrivance on her part to attract him. When we step back from the immediate events, we must realize that if the ghostly appearance were in actuality true, then the governess should definitely inform her master. Her refusal to do so indicates that even she partially recognizes that the ghosts could be emanations of her warped imagination. Certainly if they were real, she should acknowledge that she alone does not possess the power to contend with them. In this situation, Mrs. Grose is definitely correct in thinking the master must be informed. The governess' refusal to agree must arouse suspicion as to her motivations.

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