The Turn of the Screw By Henry James Summary and Analysis Sections 21-22

Summary

Early the next morning, Mrs. Grose comes to the governess' room and tells her that little Flora was "so markedly feverish that an illness was perhaps at hand." All of Flora's fears are directed against the governess. She is afraid of seeing her again, and pleads to be spared the sight of the governess.

The governess asks if Flora still persists in saying that she has seen nothing. She believes that those creatures have made the child so clever that now little Flora can go to her uncle and make the governess "out to him the lowest creature — !" The governess believes that it is best for Mrs. Grose to take the child away from the region, and in that way, she might be saved. Then the young woman will devote herself to saving little Miles.

The governess suddenly wonders if Mrs. Grose has seen something that makes her believe. The housekeeper tells her that she has seen nothing but has heard a great deal. Little Flora has used terrible language and awful words that could only be learned from some very evil source. Thereupon the governess considers herself justified in the belief that little Flora learned such words from the corrupt Miss Jessel. In answer to the governess' direct question as to whether Mrs. Grose now believes in the ghosts, the housekeeper concedes that she does.

It is then agreed that Mrs. Grose will take little Flora to London. She is warned that the master will know something because of the governess' letter. Mrs. Grose then tells the governess that the letter has disappeared. Both assume that Miles has stolen it and perhaps this was the offense he committed which brought about his expulsion. The governess hopes that in being alone with her, the boy will confess and then be saved.

The next day, Miles cannot understand how his sister was taken ill so suddenly. But he seems to accept the fact that she was sent away to keep from becoming worse because of the bad influence around Bly.

Analysis

The fact that little Flora is seriously ill suggests again the very innocence of the girl. However much she might be able to pretend on some subjects, it would be quite difficult to feign a feverish sickness. In other words, she must be deeply repulsed by the behavior of the governess. The reader should note how concerned the governess is with the possibility that the employer will hear everything from Flora, who will make the governess out to be "the lowest creature." Most of her actions are designed to influence or impress her employer. In the ensuing days, she hopes to bring Miles to her side and then she will be able to convince the master of the rightness of her actions.

Mrs. Grose is convinced of Flora's evilness simply because the little girl has used some bad words. The child's behavior is easily explainable when we consider that Miles, while away at the school, must have picked up some bad words and could have passed them on to Flora. But for the genteel Mrs. Grose who is, in fact, rather old, these words sound horrible and wicked when spoken by the child, and on this proof, she is willing to accept the premises that the girl could only learn them from an evil influence.

Little Flora's illness acts as a method of foreshadowing and preparing for Miles' reaction in the final sections. If the suggestion of the appearance of a ghost makes Flora ill, then in the next sections, the governess' actions could be too much for the nerves of the young boy.

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