Summary and Analysis
After having come to an agreement with the uncle of the two children and fully understanding that he does not wish to be bothered in any way with the upbringing of his wards, the governess takes a carriage to the great country house. Here she meets the first of her two pupils. Young Flora, a child of eight, is "so charming as to make it a great fortune to have to do with her." She is the most beautiful child the governess has ever seen.
On the way to the great country house, the governess had brooded over her future relationship with the housekeeper, but upon meeting Mrs. Grose, it is obvious that they would have an excellent understanding.
The governess is so charmed by young Flora that she takes the first possible opportunity to question Mrs. Grose about young Miles, her second pupil. She learns that the little boy, who is two years older that his sister, is as charming and delightful as Flora. He is to arrive in two days from his boarding school.
The reader should remember constantly that the governess is now narrating the story and that all impressions and descriptions come from her viewpoint. Thus, to the governess, young Flora appears as the most charming young girl she has ever seen. We should now go back and speculate about the possible relationship between the governess and her employer. As the governess tells Mrs. Grose: "I was carried away in London!" As the simple daughter of a country parson, the young girl has been impressed by the elegance and free manner of her employer. Thus, some critics would suggest that the governess' view of the young girl is simply a subconscious desire to see everything connected with her employer as beautiful and wonderful. Other critics suggest that James is here establishing the beauty and innocence of the young girl, which will later be used in various ways.
It is likewise important to note that the governess and Mrs. Grose become immediate friends and agree basically on most things. This rapport will allow the governess to convince Mrs. Grose later of the possibility of ghosts.