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Full Name:  Web Master
Title:  Testing
Date:  2006-01-09 10:39:17
Message Id:  17572
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Full Name:  Lauren Sweeney
Username:  lksweene@bmc
Title:  A Victim of Her Own Device
Date:  2006-01-30 11:52:42
Message Id:  17859
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At the start of "The Turn of the Screw," Henry James introduces his reader to the governess through the voice of Douglas, a narrator absent from the rest of the story, and one who supplies his audience with very little information about the woman whom he knew and loved. This lack of description allows the reader the chance to engage her imagination and fill in the blanks. James and Douglas provide their respective audiences with only the least bit of information, forcing them to piece together the abstract bits of information in an attempt to create a seamless whole. This allows us the chance to become an active participant in the process of reading the story, but in particular, it allows us to flesh out the character of the governess more fully. Though she is the "heroine," and narrates the story from the first person, she is the character about whom we know the least; we do not even know her name. In guarding against what he termed "vulgarity," James makes us create the character of the governess in our own minds, thereby allowing the reader to create an appropriate lens through which to interpret the story. In coming to an understanding about the governess, it becomes easier to understand the story as a whole.

James lets us know enough about the governess's past to understand that she has had a relatively uneventful life. She is identified as "the youngest of several daughters of a poor country parson, [who] had, at the age of twenty, on taking service for the first time in the schoolroom, come up to London, in trepidation, to answer in person an advertisement" (295.) From this little bit of information we gain a picture of a young and impressionable girl, nervous about her first job and her trip to London. She has grown up poor and among many sisters, presumable sequestered in a humble, convent-like farm. Given this knowledge we know that she is inexperienced and without very little change or hint of adventure in her life.

Her trip to London is the first stirring of any true emotion that she may have felt outside of the monotony of her cloistered existence. We are told of her encounter with her employer:
"This person proved, upon her presenting herself, for judgment, at a house in Harley Street, that impressed her as vast and imposing—this prospective patron proved a gentleman, a bachelor in the prime of life, such a figure as had never risen, save in a dream or an old novel, before a fluttered, anxious girl out of a Hampshire village"(295.)

These are the first words written in the story that reveal how the character of the governess felt, something that she spends considerable time describing throughout her own narration.
We are told that the girl was "fluttered and anxious;" she is impressed by the very sight of her master's house. (There was surely nothing like it in the village where she was raised!) As for the gentleman himself, she can only compare him to something she saw in a dream or read about "in an old novel." This gives us a bit of insight into the girl's own thought processes. Clearly she has read for pleasure, presumable romance novels and other books of that sort which might involve rich young bachelors "in the prime of life," and this glimpse of metropolitan grandeur sparks her imagination. The thought of having an adventure in London must have been exciting enough, but to think that her flames of her fancy were fanned by the sight of the palatial house and the handsome gentleman helps the reader to understand that this girl has an active imagination. Unfortunately, we can deduce that she was given very little opportunity to exercise this active creative mind in her father's house.

Her trip to London is the first time that the girl is on her own, but it is also the first time that she is allowed to think for herself. She sees that some of the things that had previously existed only in her mind now exist in a three-dimensional reality. When she is provided with the real-life stimulus of the master, the true emotion that she feels inspires her to feel more.

Given her first taste of emotional dramatic emotional stimulation, the governess longs to feel more. She opens her narration with the recollection "I remember the whole beginning as a series of flights and drops, as little seesaw of the right throbs and the wrong"(298.) In a rather abstract and lovely way, she starts by mentioning what she felt. All of the sensations, her sense of foreboding and the dissipation of that premonition, are illustrated in the following passages. However, in their description, James drops the first clue as to the reasons why the governess sees the ghosts of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel.

The governess has been bored and longing for emotional stimulation for her whole life, and she gets a taste of it when she goes to London. She convinces herself that if she takes the job working for the gentleman, she too will become a part of his world, and live the life she imagines he lives in his impressive home. She was excited in London and assumes that she will be excited at Bly, however, Bly proves to be disappointing because she is bored there too. There is nothing wrong with the children and nothing interesting about the property (aside from its aesthetic grandeur,) so she creates an adventure for herself, so that she might have the opportunity to feel something. During her journey to Bly, the governess has the feeling that "this is a bad idea," but when she gets there, she realizes that there is nothing wrong, the weather is lovely, the house is lovely, and the little girl Flora is very nice and very pretty. She becomes so desperate for entertainment, that she creates entire scenarios in her own mind. She convinces herself that "something bad is going to happen" so when it does not, she invents a scenario to occupy both her mind and her time so that she can feels something. She enjoys the sensation of feeling so much that she makes herself scared, and then plays the role of the righteous savior to continue the sense of romantic fantasy that she experienced in London.

By creating scenario in which the children are in danger, she gets to save them and makes herself a heroine, a role which no one else in the story can fulfill. She is the only who might act as a heroine because she is the one creating the situation. She knows more than anyone else about what is going on. We presume that she knows more than the children because we are never entirely sure that the children see the ghosts at all. (We also can't be sure that the governess sees the ghosts, but we can be sure that she thinks she sees them and so is able to describe them in detail.)

The governess develops extremely strong maternal feelings for both Flora and
Miles. This lets the reader know that she wishes she were a mother, rather than simply a governess. She longs for an emotional connection with another person. Everything she reveals about herself shows how unhappy she is with the lack of stimulation in her existence. She tells us that she is lonely at Bly. Her closest friend and confidante is the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, who is not by any means a suitable companion for the young girl. They have very little in common outside of their jobs, but they share their boredom and so take interest in the governess's manufactured adventure. The ghosts are, in a sense, imaginary friends whom the governess uses to populate the desolate landscape of her mind.

The governess is a quixotic figure in the grand style of Cervantes. She speaks of the children and the weather in excessively gushing, flowery terms, like bad poetry. She longs for the romance of an escapist adventure and so, like Don Quixote, she chooses to live the adventures she creates in her mind rather than in the real world that she finds uninteresting. As soon as she is granted the position of governess, she is granted some sense of authority, unlike anything she experienced before. She even mentions that she is treated "as if I had been the mistress or a distinguished visitor"(299.) This total change of position shocks her. Everything in her life alters so that it becomes more like things that she had previously only imagined. Her ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy is thrown off and she indulges her senses in whatever feeling she chooses to experience.

Although there exists a compelling argument for a Freudian reading of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw," I find it more plausible that the figure of the governess is desperate for any kind of emotional stimulation and is not merely motivated by her repressed sexual desires. Her initial encounter with the master still serves as the launch pad for her imagined adventure and subsequent hallucinations, but she acts as a traditionally quixotic figure, inventing an alternate reality that she finds preferable to the reality in which she lives as a simple governess.

Full Name:  Emily Feenstra
Title:  The Order of Emotions
Date:  2006-01-30 13:34:17
Message Id:  17860
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When people see a bear, they feel frightened, and as a result, run away. When people go to an amusement park, they feel happy; whereas, if they sit and mope all day, they feel melancholy. When people feel sad, the emotion of sadness can continue without showing the sadness physically. Similarly, an actor can act sad, angry, or happy so well that they are completely convincing, despite the fact that they are not actually experiencing the emotion they portray. At least, these are the common perceptions of emotions. William James, however, argues that the opposite is true for each of these examples. In his essay, "What is an Emotion?" William James argues that bodily manifestations occur first, thereby causing a prescribed emotion. I would like to argue that this idea is flawed.
One of James's first arguments is that people do not "meet a bear, are frightened and run" or "are insulted by a rival, are angry and strike," but that it is the other way around (2). He says that we run from the bear and from running become frightened; we strike an opponent and then become angry. He includes the example that "we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, fearful because we tremble (2)." This cannot be true. The actions James says cause certain emotions can occur in a number of circumstances. We must see a bear, then become frightened and run, because running doesn't cause fear. People run for many reasons, not just when they see bears. Fear is not a result when people run to catch a train, run for exercise, or run to chase a dog. Likewise, trembling does not only occur when one is fearful. One might tremble out of excitement, sadness, or even simply from the cold. Trembling cannot cause fear because that would insinuate that every time someone trembled, they would necessarily feel afraid. If James's theory was correct, we would have to feel frightened every time we ran, and fearful every time we trembled. There is no distinguishing feature in his theory that tells which emotion to feel under which circumstances. Running, trembling, striking, and crying, from his argument, could each only cause one emotion. However, feeling an emotion can cause any number of bodily reactions. When one person is sad, they might cry, while a different person might solemnly continue their day. Anger might cause one person to strike an opponent, while a different person might choose to calmly walk away.
Continuing with the idea of bodily manifestations and emotions is another idea of James's, that without the characteristic bodily symptoms of an emotion, the emotion wouldn't exist at all. James believes that "if we fancy some strong emotion and then try to abstract from our consciousness of it all the feelings of its characteristic bodily symptoms, we find we have nothing left behind, no 'mind stuff' out of which the emotion can be constituted, and that a cold and neutral state of intellectual perception is all that remains (4)." This is not entirely true. If one feels sad, and the tears are taken away, one can continue to feel sad without outwardly showing sadness physically. Likewise, one can feel happy without smiling continuously, or feel stressed without showing anxiety. Unlike James's example, if the emotion were taken away, the physical manifestations of the emotion could still be generated, as is the case with acting. An actor doesn't necessarily feel sad, angry, or happy when he acts. A play may demand that he act with hatred towards another actor, as is the case with the Montagues and the Capulets in Romeo and Juliet. Clearly, the actors do not actually feel hatred towards one another; this would make it impossible to have a play without everyone killing each other. It is because the actors can go through the motions of feeling an emotion, without actually experiencing the emotion, that plays are possible. Therefore, emotion can exist without prescribed outward bodily manifestations, and bodily manifestations can exist without true emotion.
It does become trickier to disprove this last theory when taken into account James's argument that bodily reverberations of an emotion include less voluntary actions, such as heart beat, muscle strain, and even arterial changes. As a result, he argues that these bodily manifestations actually cause the emotion. It may be true that "even when no change of outward attitude is produced, [the body's] inward tension alters to suit each varying mood (3)." However, muscles can be strained in any manner of ways, and a heart beat can be quickened by exercise or by thinking about something stressful or traumatic. While it is true that these actions do not show outwardly, it isn't necessarily true that they are the cause of emotions. If a heart beat can be quickened in a number of manners, the body wouldn't be able to distinguish which emotion to feel under the varying circumstances. The heart would merely quicken and cause one emotion. Much like the distinction that running can occur under a number of circumstances, few of which would cause one to feel frightened, so can a quickened heart beat and muscle tension occur under a number of circumstances. These bodily functions leave no room for distinguishing which emotions should result. The traditional view is much more logical. We receive a scholarship, become excited, and our heart beats faster; we have to run a race, become nervous, and our heart beats faster; we hear about a car accident in our neighborhood, become fearful for our acquaintances, and our heart beats faster. James fails to acknowledge that the same bodily functions can be affected in the same manner by a variety of emotions from a variety of circumstances.
While his idea is certainly unique and original, William James fails to prove its legitimacy. With his theory that bodily manifestations come first and cause the emotion, he fails to acknowledge the fact that a single physical action can coincide with many varied emotions, and that there is no way to distinguish which emotion should be portrayed simply in light of the specified physical action. A heart beating faster could be caused by numerous circumstances. While each circumstance could generate a different emotion, many could cause the heart to beat faster. And if the heart beat is what causes the emotion, only one emotion could be felt by a quickened heart beat. The same is true for running, crying, trembling, and many other actions. It is therefore true that the commonly accepted idea that a given circumstance causes an emotion, and the emotion causes physical manifestations, is correct.
James continues his theory with a different argument, that "the attempt to imitate an emotion in the absence of its normal cause is apt to be rather 'hollow (3).'" This seems to be the opposite of his first argument. Continuing with his example that to "sit all day in a moping posture, sigh, and reply in a dismal voice," one's melancholy would linger (6). That is to say, acting out certain physical properties of an emotion will cause the emotion in reality. Sitting and moping is imitating an emotion without a normal cause, and yet James says this will create the emotion, an emotion that is not hollow, but true. If, following his first argument, trembling makes us fearful, what is the "normal cause?" Trembling cannot be the normal cause, for it is what causes the emotion. If this second argument is to be true, there must be something to cause the trembling. Except, James mentions no such cause in his first argument.
The idea that an emotion is caused by bodily actions can additionally be disproved by examining another argument James presents. He argues that "sitting all day in a moping posture" will cause melancholy to continue. Sitting and moping all day is a different display of emotions than crying or striking. It is a choice; it is a continued behavior, not the bodily manifestation of an emotion. In this case, I agree that melancholy will linger because one has chosen a behavior that will produce the emotion. However, this is no different than being happy at an amusement park. Playing at an amusement park is also a behavior, a behavior which usually causes happiness or joy. You reap what you sow; if you put an effort towards a certain behavior, it will create a certain emotion. Sitting and sighing will prolong a state of melancholy. This is not the same as saying a bodily manifestation will cause an emotion. This is simply saying something must trigger an emotion. Sitting and sighing triggers melancholy, just as an amusement park triggers happiness, and the sight of a bear triggers fear. In the case of melancholy, there might not be a bodily manifestation, just as happiness and anger can be disguised. Ultimately, the distinction must be made that sitting all day, moping and sighing are a trigger of melancholy, not the physical manifestations.
In the end, even James himself writes in his essay that "the thought the theory advocates, rigorously taken, [may] be erroneous," and that "in writing it, I have almost persuaded myself it may be true (10)." While it is not a true theory, as I have proven, it is certainly a new twist on an old concept.
Works Cited
James, William. "What is an Emotion?" Classics in the History of Psychology. 5
January 2006. .

Full Name:  Adina Halpern
Title:  Self-Perpetuating Fear in the Turn of the Screw
Date:  2006-01-30 13:34:51
Message Id:  17861
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Henry James writes that feelings emerge from emotions – physiological responses. In this paradigm, then, fear is the result of physiological functions such as the quickening on the heart and the breath. This kind of reasoning is apparent to me in William James' Turn of the Screw. I see the apparitions in this novel as figments of the narrator governess' imagination, creations of her mind. When the governess arrives at Bly, she already exhibits the physiological signs of fear. These emotions stem from her love for her employer as well as a fear of being blamed for Miles' expulsion from school. It is from this emotionally altered state that she believes that she sees ghosts. The fear that these visions cause perpetuates more fear until her visions reach a crisis point. Additionally, Mrs. Grose's gradual disbelief of the governess' tales adds to her stress and fear and causes her physical signs of fear to worsen and her sightings of the apparitions to become more intense and scarier.

According to Henry James' account of emotion, feelings are the result of physiological responses to stimuli. Henry James calls these physiological responses "emotion." As part of his argument for his theory, he writes of emotions that cause feelings that in turn cause emotions. In my own definition, the words "emotion" and "feeling" are almost interchangeable, so this point can be thought of as "self-perpetuating emotions." Henry James writes:

"Everyone knows how panic is increased by flight, and how the giving way to the symptoms of grief or anger increases those passions themselves. Each fit of sobbing makes the sorrow more acute, and calls forth another fit stronger still, until at last repose only ensues with lassitude and with the apparent exhaustion of the machinery...Refuse to express a passion and it dies" (6).

In the case of the Turn of the Screw, the self-perpetuated emotion is fear. When the governess arrives at Bly, she is already fearful. Her account begins, "I remember the beginning as a succession of flights and drops" (298). From even before her arrival, she experiences a range of intense feelings. Fear initiates a "fight or flight" response, and in this first sentence, the governesses experiences the entire range of these emotions – she feels flights, and she feels drops, or a depressed, confronting emotion.

It is possible that these emotions – these physiological responses – are the same as those felt out of love, and that the governess felt them first not because she was afraid, but because she was in love with the man who was to become her employer, the children's uncle. (After all, love, too, can cause the respiratory and heart rates to quicken.) Her love for this man is apparent throughout the book, and it is directly associated with her intense fear. When she first sees the ghost of Peter Quint, she thinks it is this man with whom she is in love. The vision of Quint

"Produced in me, this figure, in the clear twilight, I remember, two distinct gasps of emotion, which were, sharply, the shock of my first and that of my second surprise. My second was a violent perception of the mistake of my first: the man who met my eyes was not the person I had precipitately supposed."

Her reaction to this mistake, and the combination of these two intense emotions is that of shock and violence, a term I read in this case to be interchangeable with "passion," that is, intense physiological reactions associated with emotion and feeling.

The governess exhibits this fear and love from the very beginning of her stay at Bly. When Mrs. Grose tells her that Miles was expelled from school, the governess is horrified that such a thing could happen to such an innocent and beautiful child. However, at this stage of the novel, the governess has never met or even seen Miles. She simply has Mrs. Grose's account of him to believe. She believes that this instantaneous belief stems from fear: "There was such a flood of good faith in [Mrs. Grose's response] that, though I had not yet seen the child, my very fears made me jump to the absurdity of the idea" (304). Just what these fears are is unclear, but it is later suggested that the governess is afraid of having to account for Miles' punishment: "My fear was of having to deal with the intolerable question of the grounds of his dismissal from school, for that was really but the question of the horrors gathered behind" (363) . Perhaps she is afraid that her employer will blame her for the expulsion and not love her the way she loves him.

It is clear, then, that the governess exhibits the physiological signs of fear even before she sees, or believes that she sees, the ghosts of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. Once her fear causes her to believe that she sees these apparitions, the visions cause her even more fear, which in turn causes her to have more visions. She becomes obsessed with the ghosts of these two people; the fear of seeing them perpetuates itself and she continues to see them as a symptom of her fear.

After the governess' first sighting of Peter Quint, she begins to exhibit even more nervous behaviors. For example, before she tells Mrs. Grose about seeing Peter Quint, she locks herself up in her room to think. This is not because she is afraid that she will see the ghost, but because she is afraid that she will become afraid of seeing him. She recalls, "It was not so much yet that I was more nervous than I could bear to be as that I was remarkably afraid of becoming so" (313). The governess even recognizes that these heightened emotions made her more aware of her surroundings and more sensitive to sighting of the ghosts. She writes, "The shock I had suffered must have sharpened all my senses" (313).

Later, after she has seen both Peter Quint and Miss Jessel and is convinced that Miles and Flora see them too, she worries progressively more about the ghosts' presences and feels a psychic connection to their whereabouts. One night she is reading in bed when "though I was deeply interested in my author, I found myself, at the turn of a page and with his spell all scattered, looking straight up from him and hard at the door of my room" (341). At this point, she creeps downstairs and sees Quint out the window. Had she really been interested in her author? Or had her body been constantly (and in Freud's terms, unconsciously) going through the responses of fear?

About half way through the text, Mrs. Grose begins to doubt whether the apparitions exist at all. She realizes that these so-called apparitions have never done any harm to the children or anyone else, and the only reason she has believed in them is by the governess' word. She begins to think more rationally and is influenced less by emotional fear. Even if the apparitions are there, she realizes that they do not harm the children and so should probably not be feared. The governess describes Mrs. Grose's thought process upon coming to this conclusion:

"Flights of fancy gave place, in her mind, to a steady fireside glow, and I had already begun to perceive how, with the development of the conviction that—as time went on without a public accident—our young things could, after all, look out for themselves, she addressed her greatest solicitude to the sad case presented by their instructress" (348).

It seems to me that the governess is not only afraid of the ghosts themselves, but of the possibility of her own insanity. There absence is then more frightening than their presence. Furthermore, she is afraid of losing the children, which, in her mind, would result in losing any love that their uncle might have for her – or the possibility of gaining such love. This combination causes her emotions to elevate and she appears even more insane, experiencing a kind of mental breakdown. Following this incident, she sees Quint and Miss Jessel again and writes,

"If it was a question of a scare, my discovery on this occasion had scared me more than any other, and it was in the condition of nerves that produced it that I made my actual my room, I flung myself about, but I always broke down in the monstrous utterance of names" (357).

The governess' physiological signs of fear become interchangeable with signs of insanity when, at the end of the novel, Mrs. Grose does not see the apparitions and realizes that she has never seen them and therefore they must not exist at all; and she learns that the children have never seen them even though throughout the novel she had professed that they saw them often. It is here that she breaks down completely, giving into the fear of not knowing, the fear of her beloved Miles and Flora no longer caring for her, and her perpetual fear of being forced away from them and their uncle – a fear that is now looking much closer to a reality:

"Of what first happened when I was left alone I have no subsequent memory. I only knew that at the end of, I suppose, a quarter of an hour, an odorous dampness and roughness, chilling and piercing my trouble, had made me understand that I must have thrown myself, on my face, on the ground and given way to a wildness of grief. I must have lain there long and cried and sobbed, for when I raised my head the day was almost gone" (383).

William James wrote that emotions were self-perpetuating. This idea is evident in his brother, Henry James' novel, the Turn of the Screw. Here, pre-existing fear adds to feelings of love. This deadly combination perpetuates physiological reactions that cause to governess to become insane.

Full Name:  Tyler Sagardoy
Username:  jsagardo@hc
Title:  Applying the Emotion Theory of William James to Fiction Writing
Date:  2006-01-30 14:10:10
Message Id:  17862
Paper Text:


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As a student-writer of fiction, I perpetually seek articles, essays, or works of literature that carry either valuable and direct information that may further me in my writing or literary theory, or contains information from which I am able to deduct something applicable to writing, and I believe "What is an Emotion" by William James is the later. I see within his article a logical theory declaring emotion, the element that either convince or dissuade a reader's mind of a character's existence, not as a vague abstraction, but as a detailed physical event, and, I think, it is this view of emotion as physical that can allow a writer to craft an emotion accurately for his or her own purpose, efficiently for the reader to grasp, and poetically for both the writer's and reader's sakes.
For fiction writers, like me, accuracy in words and ideas are paramount above all else when we write stories, for our words serve as vessels two-fold: they must store the stories as we see them in our minds, and then transport these images into the mind of a reader. Should the words not describe a scene vividly, the writer runs a great chance of the reader not paying attention to the story, but rather trying to make sense of befuddled feelings and judgments, and then that story would fail.
Some young writers, including myself, often frustrate ourselves by trying to put into words emotions as we can best consciously remember from only the realm of the mind. In a scene where a vicious dog is about to consume a woman, we understand the woman is in an overwhelming state of fear; therefore, we impose, from previous harrowing experiences, our vague sense of fear:
"Afraid, the woman watched the rabid dog open its jaws, revealing a jagged set of sharp teeth."
That sentence would work well in fairy tales and yarns, for in those genres laws of reason are generally suspended. However, for a serious realist writer, that simply won't do. To be "afraid" will not arouse the reader the way the writer ideally intends. The fault, of course, rests with the writer. But how?
William James, if he lived today, would point out that nothing was transmitted by the word "afraid" because nothing was what the reader thought about when he thought about fear. "What kind of an emotion of fear would be left," James writes, "if the feelings neither of quickened heart-beats nor of shallow breathing, neither of trembling lips nor of weakened limbs, neither of goose-flesh nor of visceral stirrings, were present, it is quite impossible to think."
James's theory propounds that "bodily changes follow directly the perception of the existing fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS the emotion." That is, there can not be an emotion without a physical reaction to an outside event, and any "emotion" disembodied from its body is "a nonentity," an "intellectual perception" void of human qualities. For the woman to be "afraid" is for the reader to understand she is afraid, but that does not excite the reader, nor present the scene as vividly as possible. A better sentence would be:
"Her limbs, ignorant of her desire to run, lay helpless on the floor. Her mind static, only acknowledging the pair of jagged teeth as it lunged toward her throat."
No mention of fear or of being afraid is made, yet, it is more than the first sentence in accurately describing the state of fear. Why is this so?
Referring to James's theory, emotion is not instantaneous. Emotion is a process—a sequence of causal events provoking other events from "the perception of an existing fact" to "the bodily changes, whatsoever it be, is felt, acutely or obscurely, the moment it occurs" to the feeling of these changes. The sentence implies that the woman has seen the dog, and from it has undergone a physical reaction that paralyzes her limbs and her mind to the extent of only being able to recognize the teeth of the dog, which we presume to carry negative connotation for the woman.
Not only does the writer specifically depict the woman's consternation in the above sentence, but the reader feels it too. If the writer has done a good enough job of depicting the physical effects of a character in a specific context (including the perception of a character or an unnamed narrator through which the context is given), the reader, theoretically, should be able to recall an instance where he or she were physically affected in the same manner and apply it to the story as their consciousness perceives it. For instance, the reader reads the effects in the above sentence, and recollects a similar event, say, his or her first rollercoaster ride. Again, theoretically, the reader should be able to transport those effects into the story in their head and be able to get a rather full dose of that emotion.
With all the challenges for a writer, the writer does have, at least, one advantage: there are not too many emotions a writer can write about. In The Art of Fiction, John Gardner paraphrases novelist Nicholas Delbanco, who "remarked that by the age of four one has experienced nearly everything one needs as a writer of fiction: love, pain, loss, boredom, rage, guilt, fear of death (15)." Emotions are not complicated, and not only good writers, but also good readers, recognize this. So, I maintain that through appropriate graphic depiction of context and physical effects, a writer can invoke an emotional response from both a character and a reader.
But there's much more to practicality when applying William James's theory to emotional writing; there is also poetry. For example, read the following sentence from an English translation of The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky:
"But the counsellor measured [Mr. Golyadkin] with a stare that was like a sudden drenching tubful of icy water (34)."
Albeit a translation, we still have all the components to fill in James's theory of emotion: the provoking event, and a context where Mr. Golyadkin is obviously uncomfortable, and a bodily reaction as if someone dumped upon him "a sudden drenching tubful of icy water." But this is rather ambiguous, and can mean many coexisting effects. For example, Mr. Golyadkin was taken by surprise, and/or the stare was cold and made him shiver, and/or he was overwhelmed. In this instance, where the writer (and translator) obviously has a smart handle of the language, I believe it to mean all three.
Sometimes, when it suits the writer's interests, it is best to retain an ambiguity when describing a character's emotions. Take the final line from Henry James's The Turn of the Screw:
"[Miles and I] were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped (403)."
If we are to take it literally, and therefore assume that Miles's heart did stop, then the physical change is death, and the only emotion is one of sympathy from us for the young boy. Should we infer "heart...had stopped" as idiomatic, then Miles received nothing but a great shock. In most other works, this sentence, should it be the ending and not elsewhere, would be unacceptable, but Henry James, in keeping with the mystery shrouding the story, is permitted to use it.
Incorporating William James's theory into writing poetical sentences on emotion does not just produce similes and reinvigorate idioms. It also brings about an economy with words. Looking at the above Dostoevsky sentence, he very easily could have said "But the counsellor measured [Mr. Golyadkin] with a cold stare that surprised him, brought about him a shiver, and made him feel insecure," but he felt no need when he could condense those affects into a few, powerful words, and save the reader some time and patience.
Further on the topic of powerful words, emotional sentences will remind the writer to use sparingly, if at all, words and styles he or she would find in an essay, such as this one. No good reader of fiction wants to be told everything, or take words for pure face value. The reader wants to be involved, and how can he or she be involved when everything is spelled out for them? To a good reader, involvement makes literature interesting. James's theory, when applied to writing, can do just that.

Works Cited:
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. "The Double." Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
Gardner, James. The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. New York: Random House, 1991.
James, Henry. "The Turn of the Screw." The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels. New York: New American Library, 1995.
James, William. "What is an Emotion?" York University. January 5, 2006. .

Full Name:  Laura Otten
Title:  Therapy for the Governess; A Psychoanalytic View of her Sickness and Crime
Date:  2006-01-30 14:10:19
Message Id:  17863
Paper Text:


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Henry James' The Turn of the Screw is the classic ghost story; a haunted mansion, innocent children, a woman tormented by devils. However, from a psychoanalytic perspective, this story narrates a case of victims and their mentally ill abuser. The governess is mentally unstable and sexually disturbed. Her frustration, due to lack of physical satisfaction, escalates after a brief encounter with her employer leaves her lust unquenched. Entering into a relationship with the children, being both sick and starved, she begins to abuse them sexually. Her unconscious guilt manifests into a diversion story in which she believes ghosts stalk and harm the children. The mentally unstable and guilty governess uses ego defense mechanisms and experiences hallucinations so that she may assume the false role of guardian as opposed to reality, in which she is a threat to the children.

Incidents of sexual abuse against the children appear frequently. With Flora, her advances are subtle. The governess insists that Flora sleep in her bedroom, even though the child has a room of her own. "I should have night, her small white bed being already arranged, to that end, in my room." (James pg. 300) The governess takes every opportunity to contact the child physically, "catching my pupil in my arms, covered her with kisses" (James pg. 305). Between Miles and the governess, the sexual undertones are more overt. Though the boy is approaching puberty, his caregiver never ceases to touch him. "At this, with a moan of joy, I enfolded, I drew him close; and while I held him to my breast, where I could feel in the sudden fever of his little body the tremendous pulse of his little heart," (James pg. 399). The most disturbing interaction between these two occurs in the middle of the night, when the governess enters his bedroom. Miles pleads for his freedom by requesting that he be sent back to school, but metaphorically he is asking to be let alone. In response, the governess breaks physical boundaries, "I threw myself upon him and in the tenderness of my pity I embraced him. 'Dear little Miles, dear little Miles-!' My face was close to his, and he let me kiss him," (James pg. 372). Like Miles in this uncomfortable scenario, the children find ways to voice their fear. In the presence of Mrs. Grose, when the governess begins raving about ghosts, the small girl screams, "'Take me away, that me away – oh, take me away from her!'" (James pg. 383) After this outburst, "Flora was so markedly feverish...she had passed a night of extreme unrest, a night agitated above all by fears that had for their subject...her present, governess." (James pg. 384) The terrified reactions from the children are not from fear of the nonexistent ghosts, but from fear of their crazed and abusive governess who lavishes them with tainted affection.

It is important to note the governess' personal psychological history and to understand her breaking point and the actions afterwards (abuse of the children). According to the primary narrator, Douglas, the governess was "'a most charming person'" (James pg. 293) and "'the most agreeable woman I've ever known'" (James pg. 293). The change in her mental state occurred when she met her future employer, the master. Douglas confirms that, "'Yes, she was in love.'" (James pg.293) "He was handsome and bold and pleasant, offhand and gay and kind. He struck her, inevitably, as gallant and splendid..." (James pg. 295) Clearly, there was a "'seduction exercised by the splendid young man. She succumbed to it.'" (James pg.297) The governess herself later admits that, "'I'm afraid, however, I'm rather easily carried away. I was carried away in London!'" (James pg. 301) She is referencing her first and only meeting with the influential master, but she also acknowledges a significant trait of her personality. Her tendency to be 'carried away' proves that she is aware of her abnormal mental state. Because of her infatuation with the master, from this point on, her pent-up sexual desire seeks expression. When the governess finds no recipient, the children bear the abuse of her misplaced actions. In her unconscious, she realizes her mistake, but lacking the mental capacity to redirect herself, the governess falls further into her madness. Near the end of the story, she throws a physical fit, "Of what first happened when I was left alone I had no subsequent memory. I only knew that at the end of, I suppose, a quarter of an hour, an odorous dampness and roughness, chilling and piercing my trouble, had made me understand that I must have thrown myself, on my face, on the ground and given way to a wildness of grief." (James pg. 383) This episode confirms that the governess is mentally ill because she admits abnormality (lacking memory) during a crazed state.

The governess is abnormal which means her mental functioning is not reliable. Freud proposed that for the average human "mental events...were no longer assumed to be 'in consciousness'" (Freud pg. 99). The governess uses repression, an ego defense mechanism which stops "painful or dangerous thoughts from entering consciousness" (Butcher pg. 75), as a natural means of coping. "The process of repression preventing it (the idea) from becoming conscious. When this happens, we say of the idea that it is in a state of being 'unconscious'."(Freud pg. 98) Once the governess has denied the existence of her appalling actions, she must find a substitute explanation for the consequences (the children's fear). Here she reverts to experiencing restitutional symptoms (Gleitman pg. 652). "Restitutional symptoms include elaborate, and often eccentric, false beliefs (delusions) and hearing voices that are not there (hallucinations)...Delusions are beliefs that result from the misinterpretation of real events. In contrast, hallucinations are perceptions that occur in the absence of actual sensory stimulation." (Gleitman pg. 652) The ghosts were born of her unconscious, the governess' conscious perceives them as reality, so they classify as hallucinations.

The governess unconsciously uses ego defense mechanisms in reaction to her guilt. Reaction formation, which is "preventing the awareness or expression of unacceptable desires by an exaggerated adoption of seemingly opposite behavior" (Butcher pg. 75), explains her ever-present love and praise for the children. Her unacceptable desire is to molest the children. Attempting to curb that impulse she adopts the opposite desire, she loves them tremendously. With this exaggerated opposite behavior she often raves about the beauty of the two children. Of Flora, she says, "the little girl appeared to me...on the spot a creature so charming...she was the most beautiful child I had ever seen," (James pg. 299). Of Miles, she claims, "He was incredibly beautiful" (James pg. 307). The governess tries to be overly tender and nurturing towards them. She states, "I reflected that my first duty was, by the gentlest arts I could contrive, to win the child into the sense of knowing me" (James pg. 302). The sense of trust between her and the children is false but she pretends it is reality. Characteristic of her over-the-top personality, she declares, "I was lifted aloft on a great wave of infatuation" (James pg. 308). Because she uses reaction formation, it is clear that she does not love them, but is dangerous to them. This defense mechanism is ineffective because she does give into her desires.

Another ego defense mechanism the governess applies is projection. Projection is "attributing one's unacceptable motives or characteristics to others" (Butcher pg. 75). She attributes her unacceptable motives to the ghosts, believing they are capable of harming the children. The ghosts themselves are a rationalization, a "contrived 'explanation' to conceal or disguise unworthy motives for one's behavior." (Butcher pg. 75) The ghosts are fake, they are hallucinations, but in her mind, they are logical. In her disastrous situation, the governess exercises a denial of reality, which is "protecting the self from an unpleasant reality by refusing to perceive or face it" (Butcher pg. 75). Her refusal to acknowledge the consequences of her actions leads her unconscious to take control of coping with the scenario. Thus, these defense mechanisms operate so that she may consciously live with an artificial focus, battling ghosts. Within the story, the governess' 'interactions' with the ghosts are wholly fictional. This plot exists only in her conscious mind. It is her distraction. The first hallucination, which is a projection, rationalization and denial of reality, is when the governess 'sees' a ghost upon the roof (James pg. 310). Soon after this encounter, she tells Mrs. Grose and, being superstitious, Mrs. Grose believes there is a crisis. Warranting fear of the ghosts is an important part of the governess' projection. In the children's eyes, the governess is terrifying, so she must create a subject of equal danger in order to transfer the attention.

The Turn of the Screw is a disturbed and perverse report of sexual abuse. The interactions between the children and their supposed caregiver are sad and difficult to accept. However, apart from the wrongs committed by the governess, there is much to observe in this story. The psychoanalytic perspective brings her mental process under inspection. This story gives insight to the brain, which delegates the basest human desires and motives. Unfortunately, by herself, the governess represents a dramatized, inaccurate picture of the mentally ill. Within this story, she is a danger, yes, but this sickening impression leaves no room for forgiveness. The intolerant reader may dismiss her actions as inexcusable. Such rejection widens the gap between abnormal and normal beings, a regression that is far more frightening than any ghost story.


Butcher, James N., Susan Mineka, and Jill M. Hooley. Abnormal Psychology. 12th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2004.

Freud, Sigmund. Metaphysical Essays; The Unconscious. New York: Collier/Macmillan, 1963.

Gleitman, Henry, Alan J. Fridlund, and Daniel Reisberg. Psychology. 6th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2004.

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1995.

Full Name:  Steph Herold
Title:  Anxiety and Truth in Henry James' The Turn of the Screw
Date:  2006-01-30 14:19:59
Message Id:  17864
Paper Text:
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Literary critic Edmund Wilson suggests that the Governess' supernatural illusions are nothing more than a neurotic expression of her repressed desires for sex and power, citing Freud's psychoanalytic theories on these topics as evidence of the possibility of this connection.* What Wilson ignores, however, is Freud's theory on anxiety, useful in deconstructing the development of the Governess' own anxiety in relation to her sexual repression and desire for power, among other factors. Wilson is too forceful in his claim that The Turn of the Screw is simply a matter of Freudian sexual analogies, forgetting that the matter of truth in regards to storytelling is infinitely more ambiguous and complex than any psychological theory can account for. What becomes important in understanding The Turn of the Screw is the necessity of multiple interpretations of the text, blurring the line between truth and fiction.

In his essay on anxiety, Freud claims that there are various levels of this emotion that range from "objective" anxiety to neurotic anxiety to hysterical anxiety. Of particular pertinence to the Governess is his discussion of "free-floating" anxiety, which he describes as a "general apprehensiveness...ready to attach itself to any thought which is at all appropriate..." (107). As The Turn of the Screw develops, the Governess accrues multiple rational reasons for developing this kind of "free-floating" anxiety. At the most basic level, the experience of acquiring a new job and having to move to a new house is certainly a source of understandable anxiety. Additionally, she is given this job by a wealthy, attractive man who then wants absolutely no part in her life. When she arrives at Bly, the Governess is faced not only with another caretaker there, Mrs. Grose, but also with the task of teaching the two children she thought she would simply have to care for, not enrich academically. The discovery of Miles' suspension from school and her puzzlement at his charming demeanor despite this punishment provides her with an additional source of stress. Clearly, the Governess' anxiety is not simply based on her repressed sexuality and need for power, but on concrete, rational occurrences that arise because of the nature of her situation.

This is not to suggest, however, that the Governess' anxiety does not cross the anxiety spectrum and develop into a form of hysteria. At first, the Governess is plagued only by suspicions of dread, saying in her first few days at Bly, "There had been a moment when I believed I recognized, faint and far, the cry of a child; there had been another when I found myself just consciously starting as at the passage, before my door, of a light footstep," (300). From the start, the Governess is disconcerted regarding the nature of her environment, qualms that become manifest in her first vision of the ghost of Peter Quint. Freud describes this kind of "neurotic anxiety" as a tendency to "anticipate the worst of all possible outcomes, interpret every chance happening as an evil omen, and exploit every uncertainty to mean the worst," (107). The Governess clearly displays these attributes as she searches for the meaning of the appearances of these ghosts, automatically assuming that these supernatural beings must have some connection to the safety of Miles and Flora when there is no logical explanation for this relationship. She goes even further in her anxiety-ridden endeavors, culminating in directly accusing Miles of contact with the supernatural, causing such a psychological stir in the boy that "his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped," (403). The Governess' anxiety-driven hysteria causes her to refuse to give up on the possibility that Miles is somehow connected to the ghosts, ultimately ending his life to fulfill her personal desire for the psychological truth. This is directly in line with her Freudian diagnosis as someone with "free-floating anxiety," as she has a marked amount of "expectant dread," fearing the absolute worst out of every situation instead of exploring the rational possibilities.

In addition to this Freudian analysis of the Governess' anxiety, the notion of "truth" becomes an essential element in analyzing the story of the ghosts. The Governess meticulously describes the physical features of the ghosts, leading the reader to believe that they are in fact appearing before her. Yet when she is in the presence of both the ghosts and other humans, she is the only one who can see these supernatural beings. The Governess describes how Mrs. Grose reacts to not being able to see the ghosts, saying, "She looked...and gave me, with her deep groan of negation, repulsion, compassion – the mixture with her pity of her relief at her exemption – a sense...that she would have backed me up if she could," (382). Up until this point, readers have believed, perhaps half-heartedly, in the appearance of these ghosts. Now that the Governess is the only one who can see these creatures, her reliability as a narrator immediately comes into question. Do we continue to trust the Governess, even though her sanity is now in doubt? Or do we trust Mrs. Grose, who wanted desperately to believe in the ghosts as the "evil" force behind the Bly estate, but could not sacrifice her morals by claiming to see something she that was not there?

Compounding our skeptical trust of the Governess is her continuous awareness of her descent into some kind of madness. Immediately before seeing the ghost of Peter Quint for the second time, she states, "Of course I was under the spell, and the wonderful part is that...I perfectly knew I was. But I gave myself up to it; it was an anecdote to any pain, and I had more pains than one," (315). The Governess is not only seeing ghosts, but is conscious of the fact that she is under some kind of delusion, suggesting that she might be able to control these visions if she exerted the power of her logical conscience. This is again apparent when she is speaking to Mrs. Grose, frantically trying to discover the agendas of these ghosts, when the Governess exclaims, "'...the more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don't know what I don't see – and what I don't fear!'" (330). As before, the Governess is acknowledging that she is aware of her over-analyzing of the situation, that she doubts her own visions of these ghosts yet simultaneously asserts their evil intentions. This underscores the hazy line between the fiction and "reality" of the narrative. The Governess is unsure of her own reliability, doubting her visions yet firmly believing in their wickedness, permanently diluting the "reality" of the novella. The ghosts and characters themselves inhabit the muddled area between truth and fantasy, unsure of the legitimacy of their own realities, creating a bizarre, disconcerting narrative landscape. In creating this atmosphere, James illuminates the ambiguous nature of storytelling, revealing the necessity of this uncertainty as an element of staying "true" to the essence of fiction.

Wilson's claim that the Governess' descent into insanity is based on sexual and political endeavors ignores her logical reasons to develop a kind of neurotic madness. Wilson also ignores the fundamental ambiguity between what is "truth" versus "fiction" in storytelling, leaving no room for diverse readings of the text. The malleability of meaning in The Turn of the Screw is the only reliable constant in this novella, suggesting the incredible relevance of uncertainty in the presence of madness and desire.

Full Name:  sky stegall
Username:  mstegall@bmc
Title:  Viewing the Story vs. Reading the Movie: Turn of the Screw
Date:  2006-01-30 14:58:22
Message Id:  17865
Paper Text:


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Henry James' novella Turn of the Screw is well-known even outside of literary circles for its effectiveness as a psychological thriller, so its fame made it an excellent project for Masterpiece Theater. The story was first shown on that program in 1999, with a plotline changed only a little, but critically enough to lose some of the original's potency and terror. Obviously lots of changes occur when a book becomes a movie – the addition of everything from soundtrack to definite setting and costuming effects our viewing and interpretation of the story, but since I am not a film scholar I will leave these things aside and focus on changes in the storyline and presentation of the original's ambiguities. I feel the film is less effective for these changes, less emotionally involving and mentally engaging to the viewer, who is also a "reader" of the story onscreen because of the interpretation that automatically happens.

A great and often-cited reason for the success of James' novella as a ghost story and classic thriller is the ambiguity that modern audiences also often lament. He very carefully avoids anything that would have been considered vulgar by his audience, and therefore leaves a lot of the tale's interpretation – especially regarding the horrible crimes of the ghosts and the deaths of several characters – up to the reader's imagination. We as readers, who become viewers of the story as it is played out in our heads, make up the details to our own gristly satisfaction and make the story just as scary as we want it to be. This means that the story can be read with naïveté but not innocence, since we become voyeurs to whatever vulgarities we choose to fill in the blanks with. It leaves the viewer/reader feeling a lot of things – perhaps feeling frustrated, or frightened, or just plain dirty, but never untouched.

I personally came away with a mix of satisfaction for understanding, to some degree, what James was doing, and a serious case of the willies caused by the horrible things I had been imagining for the last eighty pages. The novella was very effective for me because I was willing to go along with the complex and deliberately complicated flow of the story and the language, and because I embraced the scary things I thought of to explain the initially bizarre omissions of detail. I remember thinking when I finished that I would hate to know for certain what had happened, that I would simply feel pity for the characters then, or revulsion, but not the delightful wondering jitters that I had gotten from the play I watched in my mind's eye. I was honestly surprised to find that so many of my peers had found this same conclusion distasteful, and had reacted with annoyance or even anger at James for his choices.

The film version I saw put a very definite spin on certain aspects of the story, which I found somewhat disappointing and limiting in terms of how the tale could be "read." As I have said, I do not profess to be a scholar of cinema; however, I do not believe that a film absolutely must present a story without the kind of ambiguity James wrote. It must be harder, of course, to make a movie that maintains the vagueness and detail-evasion of James' writing, and of course his style and use of language could not be easily mimicked onscreen, if it could be used at all. But it must be possible to keep a sense of horrors unknown, and gently skirt the "vulgarity" that results from making every "terrible" thing easy and accessible and straightforward.

The movie ties the story down in several places by making those scenes show or say things which are more definite that anything James gives us. Specifically we see Miss Jessel (before we know it is her, in the very first scene) throw herself off a bridge; her death is no longer a mystery, there is only the mortal sin of suicide and not the ambiguity of what could have been disease, murder, or death in childbirth. Later on, we recognize the suicide figure as Miss Jessel and learn of her scandalous relationship with Peter Quint and her illegitimate and cross-class pregnancy. The new governess states definitively in yet another scene that Miss Jessel has confessed her shameful death and that this is the reason she seeks Flora – she needs someone to share her "tortures of the damned." The horror becomes definite, real and specific, assuming we believe in ghosts and a judgmental afterlife like the governess does. This definitiveness takes away some of the terror – murder is far more sinister than suicide, and the possibility of murder perhaps even more so. Death in childbirth would have been more tragic, as would disease; we can no longer suppose Miss Jessel to be better or worse that the film lets her be, but only see her in one light.

Just as Miss Jessel's death loses its ambiguity in the film, Miles' demise is presented as an obvious accidental killing. He is very clearly smothered by the governess in her fanatic joy at getting rid of Peter Quint for good; his very moment of death is made specific by the flailing of limbs and sudden drop of his hand. There is no longer any question of whether or not he dies, or whether he dies from her overzealousness or from some effect of Quint's. Indeed, the entire line of argument that Miles is the original reader of the story, from the framing device written in the novella, is lost because that framing device is left out and there is no chance at continuance from the ghost story's end. Several readings of the film are eliminated simply by killing Miles so obviously, and several more by omitting the side-story of Douglass and the narrator and their small convention of story-telling. The reader of the film has none of the detached safety of the book's viewers, but also none of the personalization that can be read into the book.

To me, the film felt very limited in its possibilities, in a way that the book very actively and effectively avoided. While watching the movie I never felt the frustrated suspense that I had with the novella, the nagging thought that I had missed something critical that would ease my growing fear. I was engaged in the story of the film, of course, but not as much as I had been with the original story, even though I was paying close attention to what happened and what people said. The movie did not scare me much until the very end, although Peter Quint and Miss Jessel were certainly well-designed to be preternaturally creepy. The ending really worked on my emotions, of course, but more because a little boy was being killed by a woman he had tried to trust than because the characters themselves mattered much to me. On the other hand, I found myself much more suspicious of the governess that I had been originally, and felt much more strongly that she was a little crazy. This again spoke to me of the forced reading of the film – she had crazy behind her eyes, so how could I trust her? My viewing of the novella had been a little naïve in this point, since it never occurred to be that she was mad, but that reading came out clearly – and a little involuntarily – in the film.

In the end I was disappointed with this movie version of Turn of the Screw after reading the story as James intended it, because the filmmakers had chosen to limit the incredibly original multiplicity of interpretive possibilities by making certain character traits and plot points so specific. James would have considered this reading of his story vulgar and perhaps incorrect, since the most powerful aspect of the tale was diminished. I understand, of course, that this reading in film is much less difficult to produce, and more accessible to a modern audience who may have neither the patience or the desire to be immersed in James' version of the story, but I cannot help feeling the loss of that ambiguity I found so enjoyable. Perhaps it is artless of me to think that a movie could be made with the level of mystery with which James wrote, but I would like it to be possible. After all, it might be worthwhile to do something unusual cinematically to bring to a contemporary audience the emotions James engenders in his viewers/readers.

Full Name:  Laura Sockol
Title:  A Tale of Two Brothers: The Reader's Emotional Response to Henry James' Turn of the Screw
Date:  2006-01-30 15:14:42
Message Id:  17866
Paper Text:
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Henry James' novel The Turn of the Screw has been called one of the "most effective texts of all time" (Big Books). Its efficacy lies in James' ability to create strong emotional responses in the reader despite the lack of inherently affective moments in the text. The plot of the story is not frightening in its own right. Indeed, the reader remains unsure whether the story is a ghost tale or an account of madness. James uses the structure of the novel, rather than the plot, to produce fear and tension in the reader. The means by which James produces these emotions in the reader is consistent with William James' theory of emotion. According to William James, emotions are not cognitive mediators of experience which produce bodily sensations, but rather the explanations we give to the bodily sensations themselves. Henry James engenders an emotional response in the reader of The Turn of the Screw by presenting the story in a way that provokes a physiological response. The way in which Henry James brings the reader to feel emotion in The Turn of the Screw supports William James' contention that emotions are the explanation we provide for our physiological responses.

William James' theory of emotion provides a physiological explanation for our emotional responses. James' theory provides an alternative to the naive theory of emotion: that emotions are distinct phenomena excited by external stimuli, and that emotions themselves give rise to our emotional expressions. James notes that "our natural way of thinking about these standard emotions is that the mental perception of some fact excites the mental affection called the emotion, and that this later state of mind gives rise to the bodily expression" (William James). This theory proposes that one experiences "disgust" at the sight of an unpleasant stimulus because the stimulus brings about a "disgust" reaction in the emotion center of the brain, which then causes the physical expression of disgust. James' account of emotion challenges this view. According to James, perception of a stimulus immediately produces bodily changes which are labeled an emotion. In the case of disgust, an unpleasant stimulus immediately causes the tongue to protrude, the muscles to clench and the nose to scrunch; this response is evaluated and labeled disgust. Emotions do not mediate our responses to stimuli; rather, "bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and . . . our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS the emotion" (William James).

Henry James' novel The Turn of the Screw creates an emotional response in the reader in this manner. While traditional horror stories produce fear through the presentation of phenomena that readers find inherently frightening (By "inherently frightening," I mean stimuli that produce an unlearned fear response in most individuals; either stimuli that are/have the potential to be dangerous (e.g. snakes), or experiences which violate the norms of our expected reality (e.g. spirits/ghosts)), James' plot includes no elements which should "naturally" arouse a fear response. If it is true that the governess is mad and the ghosts are a hallucination, then they are not dangerous and the reader has nothing to fear from them. Unlike the content of a traditional ghost story, were the plot of the novel to unfold before us in reality, there is little to suggest that we would be terrified. However, as a reader, I was undeniably frightened by The Turn of the Screw. I did not find the governess, or even Quint and Miss Jessel, to be frightening in and of themselves; however, the narrative itself disturbed me.

James explicitly informs the reader that the tale is meant to provoke strong emotional responses. The tale's narrator, Douglas, decides to share a ghost story after the telling of one that was "not particularly effective" (Henry James 291). Douglas, in contrast, frames his story as "beyond everything . . . for dreadfulness" (Henry James 292). Thus, before the tale is even begun, the reader knows James' intent as an author is to make him experience dread. However, James also reveals that his story shall not do so through the traditional devices ghost stories use to engender fear in their listeners. Douglas notes that "the story won't tell . . . in any literal, vulgar way" why it is so dreadful (Henry James 294). Unlike the ghost stories his comrades have told, Douglas' tale does not make the reader fearful by confronting him with fearful situations. Instead, James creates a story which effectively creates emotional responses in the reader through subtle manipulations of the reader's physiological experience of reading.

One means by which Henry James brings about an emotional response in the reader is to manipulate the speed at which the reader encounters the tale. Early in the story, during the gradual buildup to the more disturbing moments, the calm tone is enhanced by the length and fluidity of James' sentences. When the reader is first introduced to the governess' new home, James presents it as an idyll:

it was a comfort that there could be no uneasiness in a connection with anything so beatific as the radiant image of my little girl, the vision of whose angelic beauty had probably more than anything else to do with the restlessness that, before morning, made me several times rise and wander about my room to take in the whole picture and prospect; to watch, from my open window, the faint summer dawn, to look at such portions of the rest of the house as I could catch, and to listen, while, in the fading dusk, the first birds began to twitter, for the possible recurrence of a sound or two, less natural and not without, but within, that I had fancied I heard (Henry James 300).

The reader is forced to read slowly in order to make sense of James' long, meandering sentences. James' use of multiple clauses and complex sentences alters the reader's physical experience of the text. My physical response to this style of writing was to read slowly, to sink into my chair and become absorbed in the story. Although it is possible that some readers might become agitated and frustrated by their inability to comprehend the complex text, if the reader is willing to slow down and enjoy the story, James' writing style has the opposite effect — it reduces tension, slows the heart rate, and creates a sensation of calm. In this way, James leads the reader to feel emotionally calm, as well. Although the reader is aware that the tale is a ghost story, the reader is not anxious or frightened during these early moments in the text. James is able to mediate the expectation of fear that might lead the reader to experience anxiety by manipulating the reader's physical response to the work.

This fluidity and calmness contrasts sharply with later moments in the tale, particularly when the governess suspects the children in danger from Quint and Miss Jessel. At these moments, the sentences are shorter and the tone of the text is more hurried. This causes the reader's pace to quicken and become more frantic. In this manner, James leads the reader to feel anxiety. For instance, in the scene in which the governess comes to suspect that Flora has gone out with Miss Jessel, the governess confronts Mrs. Grose with a series of short commands and exclamations: "She has gone out;" "She's with her!" "we must find them" (Henry James 375). The shorter sentences, frequent breaks and added emphasis heighten the reader's arousal. This physical arousal is interpreted as anxiety. If James had written the scene in the same style as the calmer portions of the tale, the reader would not experience the same acute anxiety. The reader would objectively assess the situation as dangerous for the children, but there would be no visceral, physical response. By structuring the work so that the reader is forced to read more quickly and brokenly, James engenders a physical response in the reader which is labeled anxiety.

James also creates physical emotional responses in the reader by leaving crucial information out of the text. As Sky notes, "James left out bits . . . because he wanted us to scare ourselves" (Stegall). The absence of information creates tension in the reader's mind, which leads to physical tension in the reader's body. When we read an ambiguous passage, our stomachs clench, our muscles tighten, and we "fill in the blanks" for ourselves. By leaving crucial information unsaid, James intensifies the physical response of the reader. This leads the reader to experience more powerful emotions. This was evident in my reading of the scene in which the governess learns Quint's ghost's identity. Like the other scenes in which the ghosts figure prominently, the sentence structure is short and choppy, leading to an agitated reading. This is reinforced by the repetition of particular phrases, such as "I know!" (Henry James 322). The anxiety the reader experiences is heightened by the ambiguity of the repeated statement that Quint was "much too free" with Miles (Henry James 323). The denotative meaning of these words should not evoke a strong response in the reader; however, I had an immediate reaction to these words. I felt at once disgusted and appalled. I raised my eyebrows, I opened my eyes widely, I felt my stomach clench. Like the governess, "I forbore . . . to analyze this description further" (Henry James 323). There was no explicit evidence in the text to support my reading of this phrase to imply improper sexual contact between Quint and Miles; however, my visceral response to the phrase made this a certainty in my mind. By making the aspects of the plot which might "naturally" disturb the reader implicit, James heightens the physical response of the reader, and thus the emotional sensations resulting from the reading. Had James explicitly addressed the issue of sexual contact between Miles and Quint, I may have experienced disgust; however, it would have been less intense. Because my emotion was solely the product of my physical response, rather being mediated by objective information, I experienced "pure" disgust, uncorroborated yet intense.

Although the plot of The Turn of the Screw is not as frightening as that of many ghost stories, its readers experience acute discomfort, anxiety and fear. Henry James engenders these emotions through the manipulation of the reader's physiological responses. By changing the speed at which the text can be comprehended, James forces the reader into alternate states of calm and arousal. This tension is heightened by the ambiguity of many aspects of the plot. The uncertainty forces the reader to rely on her physical responses to the text, rather than objective evaluation of the story. These factors contribute to the efficacy of the text in producing emotional responses in its readers.

Works Cited

"Big Books of American Literature: Alchemies of Mind. Day 2." 29 January 2006 .

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels. New York: Signet Classic, 1995.

James, William. "What Is An Emotion?" Classics in the History of Psychology. Ed. Christopher D. Green. 20 January 2006 .

Stegall, Sky. Online posting, 23 January 2006. Big Books of American Literature Course Forum. 29 January 2006 .

Full Name:  Catherine Wimberley
Username:  cwimberl
Title:  A Final Turn of the Screw
Date:  2006-01-30 15:36:23
Message Id:  17867
Paper Text:


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Catherine Wimberley
English 207
Professor Dalke

March 3, 1917
Dear Dr. Shulz,
About a fortnight ago an interesting case came to my attention. A woman, Mrs. Copplin, seemed to be suffering from a form of anxiety-hysteria. When placed in certain situations, particularly with her family she began to experience serious anxieties, which I shall elaborate on momentarily. She began to develop hysterical symptoms, she became sick to her stomach, trembled, broke out into a cold sweat etc. Mrs. Copplin's condition appeared without prior warning, and seemed to grow steadily worse with each day. Mrs. Copplin found she could not explain the source of her anxieties and fears.
Through the course of my interviews with Mrs. Copplin I was able to determine the anxiety was stemming from a childhood trauma she had long since forgotten. The tale is a complicated one involving Mrs. Copplin, her brother and their second governess. If the story has been properly understood by myself (which is not a safe assumption as you will see for yourself as I am enclosing a copy of the transcript), the governess saw an evil, two ghosts, threatening the safety and purity of her charges. Sensing they might have already been corrupted the governess then began a campaign to rid them of the malicious spirits possessing their bodies.
Mrs. Copplin only has a vague recollection of the events and dismisses the governess as quite mad. While on the surface it would appear this statement is correct, that she was suffering from a severe form of neurosis, closer examination reveals the governess to be of sound mind. At worst she suffered from an objective-anxiety, one that allowed for her to look out for the well being of her two wards. After examining the tale I would argue that Mrs. Copplin, or Flora, was indeed possessed by spirits, or at the very least communicated with them. When confronted the child was forced to bury the memories deep into the subconscious. Her neurotic anxiety today directly stems from these memories trying to break free and impose themselves on her conscious mind.
Mr. and Mrs. Copplin had been married for over thirty years, had four children and six grandchildren. Over the years they had never seriously quarreled or had any major disagreements. Over the past few months, however, Mrs. Copplin had begun to feel increasingly uncomfortable in her husband's presence, feeling a deep apprehension whenever he happened to be near. Should Gregory enter the room while she was present she would tremble and break into a cold sweat. The few times he attempted to touch her in order to bring comfort, she became violently ill and had actually screamed.
Flora's anxiety was not confined to her husband either. Since Christmas two of their grandchildren had been staying with them while their parents traveled. At first all was happy and gay, Mrs. Copplin was content to have her grandchildren near her. Not long had passed, however, before she grew fretful and obsessed with their well being. She was convinced something dreadful was going to happen to them, although she could not, for the life of her, say what. She found it difficult to get any sleep, and she had recently taken to spending nights in the children's room to reassure herself they were safe.
Mr. Copplin and his family felt that Flora was becoming irrational. Familiar with my work concerning the unconscious and anxiety Mr. Copplin hoped I could shed some light on the situation. I must admit I was intrigued by the case and readily offered my assistance.
When I first arrived at the Copplin residence I found Mrs. Copplin sitting in the drawing room with her youngest daughter and grandchildren. She looked at me only briefly but I saw at once how pale and withdrawn she appeared. I suggested that perhaps we adjourn to a different room so that we might have a little privacy. She was aghast by my recommendation, the idea of leaving the children repellent to her. Her daughter assured her however that she would keep them quite safe and with that we left.
Mrs. Copplin remained uneasy with me and it was some time before I could get her to open up. As I stated before, I felt deeply that there must be something deep in her unconscious that was causing this current problem. My first objective was to find, if I could, what had triggered the transformation and how it could be cured.
Her family had informed me this all began shortly after Christmas, I asked what specifically they had done for the holiday. Did anything stand out in her mind? Mrs. Copplin assured me nothing of consequence had occurred. They had spent time with family and friends, exchanged gifts, and her brother, Miles Douglas, had encouraged everyone to tell ghost stories. Her voice had taken on a frosty tone when she said this last bit. I asked if she disliked tales of this nature. As a general rule she didn't but she objected to the tale Douglas wanted to recite. "Had you heard it before?" I asked.
"My dear sir," she replied. "I lived it, at least Miles is convinced I did. I, however, don't recall the events at all. It is all simply a pack of lies my former governess told him and, because he was so in love with her, he believed them. He intended to read from her personal account of the affair. I had no wish to hear the story so I left before the journal arrived."
Ignoring my great curiosity over her involvement in a ghost story, I asked if she was as fond of the governess as her brother had been. She gave a faint shudder. "I don't remember her all that much. I was too young. I only recall the last day I saw her. She had gone quite insane, insisting that my brother and I were seeing ghosts, that we had been corrupted. We had the most horrible row, the housekeeper Mrs. Grose had to take me away from her. I never saw her again."
Instinctively I felt we were getting to the heart of the problem. I told her I wanted to hear this ghost story. She informed me she didn't actually know it but, if I really thought it necessary, she could apply to Mr. Douglas for the papers. I insisted she do this at once.
Thankfully Mr. Douglas was quick with his response, and two days later Mrs. Copplin and I sat and read the governess's unique narration. When we had read and reread every page Flora threw the book away from her. "There," she said. "Surely you can agree the woman was simply mad."
I lit a cigar while I contemplated the question. At length I replied that at first I had been tempted to classify the governess' behavior did seem rather odd. If I had to classify it I would have said she seemed to have a free-floating anxiety.
"Meaning the governess might have had a natural disposition to general apprehensiveness. There is nothing concrete to be afraid of yet the mind will attach itself to any idea and will then anticipate the worst of all possible outcomes, interpret every chance happening as an evil omen, and exploit every uncertainty to mean the worst." (p. 107).
"Why isn't that precisely what the governess did? The woman was so desperate to get my uncle to notice her or she felt so isolated she made the whole story up."
"Did she?" I asked.
"Well of course." Flora replied indignant. "I never saw a ghost. Miles and I certainly never had secret plots or communications. Even poor Mrs. Grose never saw anything so absurd. The tale is a product of her overactive imagination."
"Your brother confessed..." I calmly pointed out.
"Under duress," She interrupted
I allowed this to be a possibility but then I pointed out something Mrs. Copplin had herself overlooked. "Before becoming your governess she had never previously heard of Peter Quint or Miss Jessel. She had certainly never seen them and yet she was able to describe them perfectly; thier features, their characteristics, their mannerisms. Everything, right down to Quint's 'queer whiskers' that were 'as red as his hair'. How could she have possibly known all that unless she had seen their phantoms?
"Her reaction to meeting with Quint the first time is quite natural. As she states a privately bred woman meeting a strange man in an isolated region, would strike fear into anyone's heart. When she saw him yet again and realized he was a ghost it placed her on her guard. She was now aware of a danger and both her conscious and subconscious would be working to protect her charges.
"I feel she was acting out of what I will call and Objective Anxiety. This type of anxiety is characterized by an awareness of a real threat or danger. There was quite clearly a real threat. The governess did see the ghosts. Thanks to Mrs. Grose we know that they meant you ill. It does not seem a stretch to presume they meant you ill again.
"Once the danger has been identified the person becomes bound up in the instinct of self-preservation. When seen in that light your governess' actions might seem logical. I do not mean to imply they were completely rational, but they can at least be explained or understood. When faced with a situation of danger or peril the individual will react in two ways. There will either be a cool appraisal of the situation or there will be paralyses. Your governess seemed to display instances of both. When she first met Peter Quint she was too afraid to even move. At other times she tried to be rational, she stated she would take hours trying to contemplate her situation. Because of the numerous variables it must have been difficult for her to know whether she should flee, attack, or defend. One can hardly blame her for her confusion."
I could see at once that Mrs. Copplin was still not entirely convinced, but she at least seemed more open to the possibility these events had really occurred and were in some way responsible for her current dilemma. I have met her everyday since then, and employing various techniques like hypnosis and dream analysis we have been able to uncover bits of the story that governess either consciously left out or did not know about.
Mrs. Copplin's case is proving helpful to furthering my understanding of the subconscious and the physical world. Unfortunately I will have to leave it for another letter. Until we next we meet.
Yours Ever,
Sigmund Freud

Full Name:  Allie Eiselen
Title:  Turn of the Screw Paper
Date:  2006-01-30 16:19:59
Message Id:  17869
Paper Text:


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The Turn of the Screw Paper
"...and according to the physicians who examined me, my little heart had stopped beating for just a moment; but to me it felt like an eternity. When I came to later that evening, I was lying in the large unused guest room upstairs and Uncle Douglas was sitting anxiously at the foot of the bed." Miles took a deep breath, as if smelling the mustiness of the dusty down blanket that had covered his little body, and reclined himself further in the oversized couch.
Although Miles had sought help muddling through his memories of Bly before, the previous doctors had been unable to give him peace of mind. It had been the viewpoints of an American doctor, who insisted that Miles' fears were the result of a heart arrhythmia, which finally turned the young man toward a contemporary practice back in Europe. Today's session was the third visit that Miles had made to the home office of Dr. Sigmund Freud at Berggasse 19 in Vienna's ninth district. After ten years of trying to keep his chin up and suppress the memories of his harrowing childhood, Miles finally felt that he was in capable hands and could speak candidly to Dr. Freud about the events that had been haunting his dreams.
The doctor turned to a fresh page in his note pad, cleared his throat, and asked, "So Miles, what happened next? You said he was anxious?"
"Well, I remember Uncle Douglas had traveled all the way from his house on Harley Street to Essex. He hardly ever made the trip to the countryside. Actually, Flora and I had seen him only on a handful of occasions prior to the incident, and we rarely communicated during those years, not even through the post. I'm not even certain that he knew I was expelled from school, let alone why..." Miles' eyes wandered, unseeing, around the and richly cluttered room, searching for words to describe the feelings and impressions that he had kept deep inside of himself for so long.
The doctor interjected, "Do not think too much. Just tell me what comes to mind."
"I've never held him responsible...Uncle Douglas was a gentleman...he had no way of really knowing how things were at Bly...I...I don't has occurred to me that perhaps he didn't want to know". Miles had promised himself long ago that the words that were next to leave his lips would not be shared with Flora, "He was a carefree bachelor who did not want to be bothered with his brother's death or his brother's children at all! Uncle Douglas did not want to know what happened to me or Flora, at Bly, or at school, or with the staff, or with my classmates or with the Governess! And there I was. Lying right in front of him should have been the realization that he had let it all happen! The whole bloody mess of it!"
And there it really was. A proverbial weight was lifted from Miles' shoulders; and in a mix of anger and relief and disappointment and pain, he looked to the doctor for some sort of approval, or disgust, or support—any reaction at all would do. Freud peered up through his gold framed eyeglasses and gave but a measured nod to the young man on the couch. This was the cathartic release that Freud had anticipated.
After only three hypnotic sessions in analysis, his patient's free floating anxiety had been anchored to an internal moral conflict between the feelings of obligation and respect to his guardian and the detest of his isolation from their childhood. The doctor was eager to probe further into his patient's subconscious mind, to expose the depths of what he believed to be Miles' moral anxiety and outrage, and to allow Miles to put his previously latent feelings into words. Testing a hypothesis as to exactly how far into his unconscious Miles had repressed the epiphenomena of that fateful day, Freud asked a question he already knew the answer to:
"And then what happened to the Governess?"
"I don't know" whispered the small boy in Freud's twenty-year-old patient.
Freud and his colleague Joseph Breuer had been primarily interested in the study of hysterical women when they met Miss Lucy R. over nine years ago at le Becetre hospital in Paris. Having succumbed to hysterical conversion while employed as the governess at the infamous Essex estate, an English gentleman had referred Miss Lucy R. to Freud and Breuer for analysis. Through hypnosis, Freud determined that her hysteria was an acquired one, which she developed following traumatic sexual events in her early childhood. Familiar with Case Study 3, Freud knew that upon his arrival at Bly, Douglas had feared for the safety of her young pupils. Freud also knew that young Miles had witnessed Miss Lucy R. being forcibly removed from Bly.
"Take your time Miles. Think back and try to remember things as they seemed to you back then, not as you have rescripted them in the years since. Take your did Uncle Douglas handle the situation?"
Miles responded as if by rote to the doctor's prompting: "Upon committing the Governess to the asylum, dear Uncle Douglass informed the woman's parents of the tragic events that transpired." This confirmed for the doctor that indeed, Miles did know exactly what happened.
Miles continued, "The Pastor and his wife were lovely people, just as she had described them to us in her stories. But oh, how I pestered them to let me know who it was that I was supposed to have seen that evening..." Before Miles could trail off or stop recollecting the pieces of history altogether, Dr. Freud firmly interjected:
"No, Miles, think back, who was she, Miles? Who was the woman you were supposed to have seen the night your heart stopped? Who... was... she? "
" Miss Jessel was the name of our governess' childhood nanny." Miles paused for a moment and thought about what he had just said. It was as if he had just painstakingly dug up an unmarked grave and had laboriously dragged off the lid only to discover that he had known who the occupant had been all along. He should know, he thought, after all, it was he who had buried her so deeply.
Freud had used hypnotism to analyze dozens of patients conflicted with anxiety. His experience told him that Miles was growing apprehensive about his reminiscence. Interested in keeping his patient talking, the doctor nonetheless thought it best to back off for the moment. Miles had made an enormous amount of progress in three sessions, but Freud was concerned that unearthing too many of these suppressed memories at once might trigger a latent and perhaps, a more complicated psychosis. Lighting a fresh cigar, the psychoanalyst reflected back to when Miss Lucy R. acknowledged having been tormented while under the tutelage of Miss Jessel. Still undecided for the moment as how to proceed, the doctor was surprised that the patient himself decided to continue.
Miles interlocked his fingers, rested his hands behind his head, gazed again at the ceiling, and said, "The Governess did tell Flora and I many stories about her childhood, her family, her father, the parson, her sisters, her home in the country ...but I don't recall her telling us anything about Miss Jessel at all. Flora played nice with the Governess. Yes, Flora played nice with the Governess and laughed at her stories. Well, she laughed until the Governess started playing with Mrs. Grose anyway. The way in which the Governess played with Mrs. Grose was not how Flora wanted to play though...
Actually, I don't think Mrs. Grose wanted to play with the Governess for long, as she left us after church one Sunday. You know, that was the Sunday I told the Governess I wanted to leave Bly because I was a man and I was ready to be properly educated. It was time to make my way in the world. I had learned all there was to learn from...well anyway; the governess had nothing left to teach me that I didn't already know and it was time for me to go. Maybe the Governess was upset with me for wanting to leave her. It is possible she thought I would be indiscreet about...things. Perhaps the thought of me going away was why she held me so close to her later on...Oh, Flora really was a good girl then. I was the naughty one..."
"Miles, tell me about Peter Quint..."

Full Name:  Jessica Rosenberg
Title:  'Alchemies of Hormonal Imbalance': The Emotional Landscape
Date:  2006-01-30 16:23:28
Message Id:  17870
Paper Text:


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This class purports to investigate emotion in what are now considered the great works nineteenth-century classic literature. We will be reading canonical works from the inside out, through the lens of their own emotional structure, using theories on emotion from various disciplines, from contemporary to modern theorists. But before embarking on this reading and analysis, it seems prudent to understand, as much as possible in a single paper, how my own emotional landscape operates.

I will be reading through the lens of my own emotional procedures and history, and though college has been good for many things, serious introspection has not been one of them for me. I will look back, before I go forward (to the nineteenth-century). I need to look in before look out (to others' interiors).

In class, we started with Instinct, Emotion, and Feeling. What we felt, biologically or subjectively, and what we wanted to do; adjectives and verbs, quick snapshots of complex reactions. Not able to stop there, the class forced additions to the discussion: Anticipation. Conditioning. Thinking. Action. Catharsis. Much more useful to me, these categories reveal the story making instinct present in humans. Regardless of which comes first, the emotion or the physical reaction to an event, at some point during an event, humans make the story out of it, connecting the event to what came before and what will come after.

Buried in these stories are the why's of an emotional response to a physical happening, of a physical response to an emotion. Only by examining these stories can we begin to understand either reaction.

Why I Laugh
In class, we delved into the emotional responses felt when bears or teachers attack, how we feel during scary or sad movies, and rollercoaster rides. No one used a joyous example, or wanted to discuss, say, the emotion that comes from an orgasm. That has to be one of the most obvious examples of a physical reaction tied to an emotion, thought perhaps it is not a physical event where the 'why' needs overanalyzing.

Laughter, then, my second favorite physical performance of emotion:
I laugh when, in movies or television, and hopefully someday soon in real life, animals talk. I laugh even harder when they have a British accent. I chuckle when they do human things, like drink beer. I do not laugh at Jew jokes about loving money that I've heard countless times before, but a do laugh at new Jew jokes, or very old jokes about Biblical Jews that are still funny.

I do not know what exactly that says about my sense of humor. More generally, I laugh whenever possible. Physical comedy, satire, dark humor, political humor to fart jokes, I do not believe there is very much I should be too mature for.

I know that I laugh too often and loudly for some people's tastes, as in, some people prefer not to go to the movies with me anymore. I laugh at moments that are supposed to be serious, in fact, often I laugh because things are supposed to be serious. Sometimes the coach's halftime, 'we can come back and win the big game' speech is just too much for me to handle. I laugh at cliché's. That means I get to laugh a lot.
Why I Bite My Nails
Nail biting, partnered for me with curl twirling and scalp scratching, is my physically destructive response to nervousness. It comes in two flavors for me, undetectable by the physical performance of it. I like the rush at the end of movie, especially when I know its going to end happily after all of the nervous chaos. I do not enjoy the nail biting necessary for taking standardized tests. I loose a lot of nails at the end of sports games, but that's the necessary cost of being a Philadelphian.

What I hate most, is watching people get embarrassed, especially when they are embarrassing themselves. This is the one thing I consistently do not find funny, instead finding it painfully nerve-wracking. I do not like characters based around saying the wrong thing; I do not laugh when those who cannot string two coherent sentences together are forced into public speaking roles. Take any scene of Bridge Jones's Diary and examine; I will look away and try to focus on something else, tugging at my hair and rubbing my head until the defined curls explode into cotton candy like frizz.

That, it seems, is one of my most serious fears: being horribly awkward and publicly embarrassed in large social situations. Submarines and tarantulas freak me out, but realistically, the former is a much more serious threat. I do not like watching others go through what I dread.

Why I Cry
When I am premenstrual, I cry for everything, I am just waiting for an excuse to cry. Some months, I force myself to watch ER reruns just to get it out of my system, so I can relax with everything else.

Most of the time, I am more stable. I can watch the news, though I prefer to read it. I do, however, cry at the news, sometimes. In class, I started a list in the margins of my notes. What I came up with then:

Bombings in Israel; gay bashings or violent acts of homophobia; stories of women being raped or sexually assaulted; high school shootings.

That's all I've been able to think of. The news is the news, and everyday people die. And I only cry when it could be me.

I do not cry when there is violence in Iraq or Africa, or Philadelphia or even Montgomery County. People are violent and horrible and they have been and they will be, and I hate it, but, yes, I am desensitized. I do not cry when straight men die, even if they've been murdered and it was unfair and horrible. I do not even cry when other minorities are killed. That, according to my tear ducts, is their business.

When I cry is an amazing experiment in the self-preservation instinct, and the fears that come along with it. As a Jewish, queer, female college student, I cry when something threatens a group I identify with.

How I Feel About This Paper

This is the writing I should have done a week ago. Each paragraph could be the beginning (or middle, or end) of a much more in-depth, entertaining investigation. But I am just getting used to my schedule, when I have to get work done. I am just getting mentally back into a Bryn Mawr amount of work, after a semester abroad where my nights were spent drinking, going to the theatre, writing, and ignoring the pages of Chaucer I was supposed to be reading.

I did not feel anything more than a minor annoyance towards "Turn of the Screw." I wrote this paper so that I could skip the third or fifth paper. What I fear now is that when those papers approach, I will have something very interesting I'm ready to say. I will either not bother saying it, and waste the ideas. Or I will write all five papers, proving myself to be the huge nerd many accuse me of being, and meaning that the hours spent on this paper were in vain.

And Anne Dalke puts the ball in my court. Knowing that there will be no grade attached to this, the paper does not have the usual purpose: a means to the ends of a grade. Instead, the means is the ends. I paper is exactly as good as the amount of worth I get out of it.

So what have I gotten? I have examined how the class approached the categories of emotion and feeling, explaining it to myself in a way that lets me understand possible motivations for why we spoke the way we did. I delved into the unconsciousness of the class, albeit not as deeply as I could have.

I did not do a closer reading of "Turn of the Screw," or force myself to get anywhere further with it. I kept William James' and Freud's inquiries into emotion present as I was writing this, but I did not breakdown their arguments, take them to task, or use them to prove anything.

I investigated myself, broke down my most common emotions and read them as a text. If I focus, I think this can aide me in reading my own reading of the texts, let me get some metacognition going. Hopefully it will help in this class. If nothing else, perhaps I am in some way healthier for it.

Full Name:  Amy Stern
Title:  The Ghost in the Mirror
Date:  2006-01-30 16:45:28
Message Id:  17871
Paper Text:
<mytitle> Big Books Home
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Within the frame story of ghost stories told around a campfire, Henry James's The Turn of the Screw reveals the writings of a woman who is revealed to be a somewhat unreliable narrator. In order to fully understand, appreciate, or analyze James's novella, it is necessary to examine how much the governess's desire to tell a tale is shifting the narrative. Through this, James forces the reader to confront their relationship with literature in general; if the governess- the author of our text within a text- can mislead us this easily, what about the authors of all other stories? What about, perhaps, the true author of this one?

The Turn of the Screw is told incredibly slowly. The language twists and around, forcing the reader to spend far more time than eighty-five pages might normally indicate. The sentences, for example, are very carefully arranged; many of them are long, with excessive clauses, which do not feature tangents (there is not a word in the governess's story which does not offer the reader a great deal about plot, character, or tone, if not all three) but nonetheless obfuscate the plot. Like the house and the surrounding area, as the governess describes them, the story is winding and full of detours; once you are entrenched in the story, it is nearly impossible to extricate yourself. Even the sentence order contributes to this, as the characters will frequently discuss events or sightings of which the reader has never been informed. A sense of confusion therefore permeates the text, as important pieces of information are withheld and things which the governess sees are often referred to obliquely if at all. There are, moreover, gaping holes in the story; by the time the reader reaches the end of the novella, it is difficult to determine exactly what has happened and what has not.

On an extra-textual level, this works without question. James builds suspense largely by teasing the reader. Because nothing is explicit, James forces everything to become all the more clear in the reader's mind as she struggles to make sense of the clues given, and whatever explanation the reader can come up with is almost inevitably more disturbing than anything which James could have "vulgarly" stated in the text. The reader's horror mounts as she pieces together what must have happened to the characters, both before the governess arrived and after. James has constructed a story which places the burden of terror on the narrator, due to the structure he has chosen.

However, although James is the author, the mimetic storyline must also be taken into account. Within the context of The Turn of the Screw, there are several narrators through whom the story is being distilled. The first is the narrator of the introduction, who is anonymous and unremarkable. He provides the reader with an audience for the tale which will soon be told, but his chief purpose is to introduce another character, Douglas, who provides the main story to the assembled audience. Everything about Douglas serves mainly to validate the reliability of the narrator of the story which he presents; the narrator- and therefore, theoretically, the reader- trusts Douglas enough that his high praise of the governess can be read as somewhat reliable. It is tempered, of course, by his love for her, but because that is explicitly acknowledged by the text, it is possible (the reader can assume) to allow for that and have a fairly accurate representation of how she truly is. The only storyline which is truly called into question, then, is that of the governess.

Seymour Chatman's basic narrative structure chart identifies the basic structure of the simplest text: the real author writes, and this writing forms the implied author, the author at the exact time of the writing (1978). This in turn creates a narrator. The narrator writes something to be understood by the narratee, the person who the character believes is listening, but the audience the author is expecting is actually the implied reader, who is the author's idealized expectation of who might be reading their story. The actual readers are then expected to bridge the gap between the ideal reader and their own life experiences. Each story within a story, then, adds layers, and it brings up several questions about the governess: most notably, why is she writing this story, and what does it say about her?

Even though the reader can reasonably assume that the story, which purports to be a first-person handwritten account, is filtered through the lens of the governess's life and experiences, the reader knows virtually nothing about her history before she arrived to take care of the children (a fact which is evidenced by the way that we never even learn her name). Douglas reveals that at the time of the story she is twenty years old, and the reader can infer she is fairly innocent about the world at that time. She is clearly intelligent, and she cares a great deal about her charges. She is somewhat interested in the children's uncle, who she met only in interviews and has not seen since she arrived at the house. She is from a higher class than many of the other servants; she is able to read and write. Yet she also needs a job as a governess, which leaves her at an uncomfortable place where no one at the house is of the same social rank as she; like Miss Jessel before her, she is expected to only socialize with a gentleman, but those are obviously in short supply. We also know that by the end of the story, she is still alive, and capable of getting a new job, at which she meets Douglas. Other than that, however, the reader is given very little on which to base any interpretation.

This is especially important because everyone else involved is in some way incapable of sharing their story as she did. The governess is the sole author, and the only one with a voice; therefore, she is the only authority the text provides. Mrs. Grose cannot record the story because she cannot read or write, Miles dies, and the ghosts, if they are ghosts, are dead to begin with. Moreover, the only character who has been granted credentials from anyone has been the governess. The reader has no choice but to trust her tale.

By the time one has finished reading the story, however, the question of sanity is obviously at the forefront; is the governess crazy? Obviously, one beauty of the text is that it truly is up to the reader; James has left it ambiguous enough that the possibility of ghosts and the possibility of insanity are equally likely. Both theories have some holes, but not enough to fully negate them. The water is muddied, however, by the way that, within the text, the story was presumably written entirely by the governess, and thus everything we see is hers. If she is, in fact, crazy, it is not something which develops slowly from page one; the person dictating the story is just as insane on the first page as she is on eighty-five.

Where one could normally take apart a novel to analyze what the author is foreshadowing, of course here it is true as well. But the author within the text here- that is to say, the governess- has a completely different agenda than Henry James does. Clues about her sanity, or lack thereof, must therefore be analyzed differently than they might with another text. The question of what the governess is trying to prove, or why this story is being told, is important towards understanding what the novella is saying. Is her reference to Jane Eyre, for example, which explicitly refers to the madwoman in the attic, there to indicate her questions about her own sanity, to show that she can identify the difference between sanity and insanity and that she has painted herself on the other side of the line, or simply a reference to a book the character read?

There is, however, perhaps a different answer. The character knows how the story will end from the very beginning. She uses literary devices to prolong suspense, but if what she says shows herself to be crazy, presumably she knows what she is showing which does so. While she as a character within her own story grows, she as the presumed author of the text does not change as the story does. The unreliability, therefore, lies not in the governess, nor in any of the other narrators at any layer of the story, but in the reader, who is now forced to reconsider his own perceptions of the story thus far.

Peeling back the layers of the text, then, reveals far more about the reader than the real author, the implied author, the narrator, or any other level of voice with in the narrative. The Turn of the Screw is a success not for what it says about its characters, but for what it says about the person who is analyzing them. By eschewing "vulgarity", and leaving everything to the imagination, James is able to cater not just to the implied reader, but to every reader. The Turn of the Screw can thusly be read as a mirror text, reflecting more about the person reading it than the characters themselves.

Full Name:  Jillian Davis
Username:  jdavis@bmc
Title:  Turn of the Screw or Just Plain Screwy: A Pseudo-Christian Interpretation
Date:  2006-01-30 17:08:14
Message Id:  17873
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During the course of our discussion about Turn of the Screw, the theory was presented that the ghosts who appeared to be haunting the narrator may in fact have been mere figments of her imagination. It was suggested that she might even have been completely delusional, and that all the supernatural events that she supposedly witnessed were nothing more than hallucinations. The question then became, if she were indeed mad, had she always been so, or had coming out to care for Miles and Flora somehow altered her? What exactly was she suffering from, and what had caused the condition to manifest?

A Freudian interpretation of Turn of the Screw classifies the governess's experiences with the ghosts of Peter Quint and Ms. Jessel as hallucinatory manifestations of hysteria. The hysteria itself is caused by the governess's lust for the man who has hired her (a situation which is referenced in conversation between the first narrator and Douglas, on page 293); unrequited and sexually frustrated, she falls victim to visions of the supernatural. These visions are her subconscious's attempt at providing her with a reason to write to the master and ask him to come to her, thereby enabling her to seduce him and quench her passions. However, there are other schools of thought, one of which takes a more religious or metaphysical approach; specifically, Christianity and Christian thought as a form of interpretation.

Supernatural beings have historically been strongly associated with the Christian bible, as have certain displays of psychopathy which were thought to be brought on by contact with these beings. The victims, then, fall into two categories: prophets and sinners. In the case of those considered to be prophets, visual or auditory hallucinations are thought to be the voice of G-d or his angels, communicating truth through a divine messenger in order to reach the larger community. Sinners, however, suffer from a torment that is the result of demonic control, which in turn stems from consort with the devil, or constant indulgence in sin (such as lust), which makes one vulnerable to possession or psychological torment by evil spirits. Which of these categories, then, does the governess fall under?

In my reading of the book, I found evidence to support the theory of the governess being devil influenced and mad, not in any passive way—i.e. she was not an innocent woman being taunted by spirits of the damned—but rather she herself was possessed by a demonic entity, the result, as in the Freudian theory, of an unexpressed lust for her employer (i.e. the repercussions of sinful thought). This then means that the influence she attempted to exert over the children was not to save them from some great evil, but rather to bring them into it and claim them as her own, a process which was hindered by the "ghosts" of Ms. Jessel and Peter Quint.

From the beginning, the governess is infatuated with the children, particularly the radiant beauty and innocence that emanates from them. Upon first meeting Flora, she describes the "radiant image of my little girl" as a "vision of...angelic beauty" and delights in the certainty that "to watch, teach, 'form' little Flora the making of a happy and useful life" (300). Already, she has latched on to her charge, going so far as to move the child's bed into her room the night she arrives, and considering the little girl her own, to influence and mold as she desires.

Miles is a slightly different story. When the governess first learns that he has been removed from school, she seems extremely concerned, and becomes very preoccupied with the why of it all. She fears he will be belligerent or difficult, possibly even stubborn and overly assertive, things that, were she trying to seduce him into some relationship with a demonic evil, would make him less susceptible to her influence. Although at first she is distracted by his "great glow of freshness, the same positive fragrance of purity [as seen in his little sister]" (307) and his general complacence, later on Miles does assert himself. As they are approaching the church one Sunday afternoon, he brings up the subject of returning to school, a discussion which makes the governess so uncomfortable (because she cannot tell him why she must keep him by her side, and because her influence is apparently not as strong as she'd hoped) that she cannot enter the church, and has something of a break down.

While there is nothing overtly sinister in her initial extolling of the children's' virtues, it does seem strange that a woman intended as an academic teacher and nanny of sorts would fixate quite so much on those particular factors. Indeed, unlike the reader, it does not appear that Mrs. Grose is without her initial suspicions concerning the governess. When discussing the reason for Miles' dismissal from school, the governess explains to Mrs. Grose that, while she does indeed like children who have in them "the spirit to be naughty", she does not approve of it in a degree that might corrupt others. To this, Mrs. Grose promptly replies, "Are you afraid he'll corrupt you?" (305). Assuming the governess has already fallen from grace at this point, such a thing would be impossible; it is just the reverse that she intends to bring about, and wastes no time in binding the children to her exclusively.

As is the case with most valuable things, once the governess has the children under her care, she is both reluctant to part with them and, after her first encounter with the "ghosts", increasingly afraid she's going to lose them regardless. When Miles sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night, the governess, who is still awake and listening for fear he will do just that, becomes frantic in her search for him. When little Flora steals out to the lake in the middle of the day, with Miles covering for her, the governess tracks through the woods in order to find her and bring her back. In both cases, she is horrified to find that the children have, apparently, been consorting with what she deems "evil spirits".

Truly, I do not believe them to be ghosts in the traditional sense at all, but rather benevolent spirits returned to earth for the purpose of protecting the children from the governess's influence. After all, there is never any proof, apart from Mrs. Grose's word, that there was anything sinister in the relationship between Ms. Jessel, Peter Quint, Miles, and Flora. No specific examples of inappropriate or deviant behavior are ever cited, whether in relationship to the children or the rest of the household staff. In fact, the only person to whom the "ghosts" are at all unpleasant is the governess, and even then, it's nothing they do so much as the feeling she gets (which, supposing she is possessed and they are there to act against her, would make sense).

By the end of the novel, the governess has become completely paranoid and irrational; her scheme is coming undone. Flora has been saved from her influence by the ordeal with Ms. Jessel at the lake; raving about the governess's evil, she is sent away, for the governess has come to realize that the children's resistance lies not only in their connection to the "ghosts", but also their connection to each other. By getting Miles alone, she assumes she will be able to corrupt him entirely. She very nearly succeeds, but again Peter Quint intervenes, causing Miles to see clearly and truly what the governess is; he cries out against her, calling her "devil". But the struggle for his soul proves too much, for as James writes, as the governess cries "What does he [Peter Quint] matter now, my own?—what will he ever matter? I have you, but he has lost you forever!" (402), Miles cries out himself, collapsing into a heap by the window, his heart completely still. He has been saved from damnation, but at the cost of his own life.

The mystery and uncertainty surrounding Turn of the Screw is dense, and it is unlikely that any one answer will ever be specified as being correct. Were such a thing to occur, however, a demonological and Christian religious approach to the text seems to be a solid choice. Considering the social and historical context in which the book was written, as well as the abundance of suggestive imagery and dialogue in its pages, it is entirely probable that the story is being told from the perspective of a mad woman, a woman tormented by inner demons who, in her madness, seeks to destroy two innocent children, and in failing, is left with only one comfort; that "her" telling of the story will glorify her efforts as being somehow heroic, and will color the perception of the reader in her favor. In seducing readers, and in bringing them over to her side, she has still retained some small slice of victory.

Full Name:  Alice Bryson
Title:  Depths Of Deception: Mrs. Grose and the Governess
Date:  2006-01-30 17:16:48
Message Id:  17874
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"No, no -- there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it..."
The Turn Of The Screw, page 329-330

In Henry James's The Turn Of The Screw there lies the possibility of endless reexamination of the work because it doesn't offer a definite resolution--or anything even approaching a definite resolution. And every reading you enter into, you might well return with another way to explain what sketchy details we as readers allow ourselves to trust. The Governess desires the Master and invents everything; the Governess misunderstands the nature of ghosts; the children are possessed; the children are sexually abused; Douglas is Miles. Because of the depths of things left unspoken and unresolved, explanations and alternate readings abound. Here, I propose a reading of in which the Governess is not the victim of the supernatural, but of the natural; a deception on the part of Mrs. Grose. On first meeting Mrs. Grose, the Governess describes her as a "stout, simple, plain, clean, wholesome woman" (299); with what James lets the audience know later about the Governess's mental state (certainly that she jumps to conclusions, possibly that she hallucinates dead people at Bly), what basis does the audience have for trusting her assessment of Mrs. Grose?
The text, while being open to depths of interpretation, at the outset hinges on one simple question: do the ghosts exist? The main argument for the existence of the ghosts is if there are no ghosts haunting the windows and lonely places of Bly, how is it that the Governess is able to give a perfect description of both Jesssel and Quint to Mrs. Grose (333)? She has never seen either of them in life, nor has anyone told her any details about them (she had no idea of Quint's existence until Mrs. Grose mentioned him), so how can the Governess describe them? This should prove that ghosts exist, if we trusted Mrs. Grose to be honest. But if there are no ghosts, there is no other explanation for how the Governess can describe them, than that Mrs. Grose must be, in some capacity, lying.
What exactly is Mrs. Grose lying about, then? This becomes harder to tell; it might be that the Governess hallucinates or invents specters, or sees people wandering around the house, and when she describes them to Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper sees her opportunity to scare the Governess, and tells her the 'ghosts' are dead servants. (In fact, until the Governess describes the man she sees in the window to Mrs. Grose and Mrs. Grose confirms that it is the dead Peter Quint, the Governess thought he was merely a man investigating a beautiful house, or at worst some secret insane relative (312); certainly not something supernatural. Mrs. Grose suggests the supernatural to her the first time.) It's even possible that the history of Quint and Jessel is, in part or in the whole, created by Mrs. Grose, as the Governess never hears anything more than the basics about them from anyone else -- not even mention of Quint's name from any other lips until the final confrontation with Miles (402). Departing even more from the realm of what's presented as concrete in the books, might Mrs. Grose not even have hired some red headed man to stand in the tower, and look in the window, for the express purpose of scaring (or chasing off) the new governess? That would certainly explain both her slip of the tongue, saying "Oh, he did," and almost immediately qualifying it with the suspicious "I mean that's his way -- the master's" (305-6), and her surprise when the Governess sees Miss Jessel for the first time. Suppose that Mrs. Grose only intended the Governess to perceive the haunting of Peter Quint, and even at first assumed that the Governess was only talking about Quint again (329). But no matter how far her deception extends--which is easy to conjecture, but difficult to decide upon and impossible to prove--what remains is that unless we accept ghosts to be real, Mrs. Grose must be lying in some way.
Accepting that there must be deception on Mrs. Grose's part, why would Mrs. Grose sabotage and lie to the Governess? The answer is, to put it too simply, jealousy. Even though the Governess is a poor parson's daughter (295), she is of higher status than Mrs. Grose, a member of the working class. And even though Mrs. Grose is older than her and has been in the service of this one family for many years (296), upon the Governess's arrival at Bly Mrs. Grose is instantly relegated to secondary status. In the absence of a governess, Mrs. Grose is the highest ranking employee in the house, above a cook, housemaid, dairywoman, groom, gardener, and an old pony (297). But the Master promises the Governess that "the young lady who should go down as governess would be in supreme authority" (296). In addition to being in charge of the entire house in the absence of a governess, Mrs. Grose is in charge of Flora; the Master describes Mrs. Grose of being "extremely fond" of Flora (296); anxious not to lose her position of power or be displaced in Flora's affections, Mrs. Grose sabotages the Governess.
Mrs. Grose is disgusted by Quint and Jessel's relationship, most clearly because it crosses lines of class. Miss Jessel was a lady, and Mrs. Grose describes Quint as "so dreadfully below" (331). This may be the reason that she selects Quint as the figure to suggest to the Governess as a malignant ghost; she cannot accept that Quint and Jessel have had a relationship, not only extramarital and possibly resulting in a pregnancy (332) but cutting across rigid barriers of class. Is it possible that she invents or exaggerates stories of Quint being inappropriate or free with people, even extending into painting him as evil. There's no proof outside of Mrs. Grose's reports and the Governess's conjecturing that Jessel and Quint were in the least bit immoral; Douglas describes the old governess (Miss Jessel) as "a most respectable person" (296). It is worth noting that Peter Quint is the only character over the age of ten (exempting Douglas and other characters in the beginning) who is given a first name. It speaks to his social status, as it was probably considered more acceptable to call a lower class servant by his first name than a housemaid or a governess, but it raises a suspicion as well. Exactly how evil is he, if he is the only adult whose Christian name is revealed? And, when examined to another degree, the relationship between Jessel and Quint might explain some of Mrs. Grose's desire to sabotage the Governess. The Governess is clearly in love with the master, and it's suggested that she slept with her employer -- she was "carried away" in Harley Street (301). The second Governess, then, is another woman having sex outside of marriage and her social class (albeit, this time, the woman is "dreadfully below"). It's possible that Mrs. Grose views the Governess as just a repeat of Miss Jessel.
The Governess in turn views Mrs. Grose as simple, as someone not capable of deception, even when she's faced with proof that there's more to Mrs. Grose than meets the eye. Mrs. Grose, early in their acquaintance, gives the Governess "a look that [she remarks] a the moment; then, visibly, with a quick blankness, [Mrs. Grose] seem[s] to try to take it back" (303). When the Governess finds out that Mrs. Grose is illiterate (304), it only serves to further enhance her idea that Mrs. Grose is wholesome but stupid, and therefore unable to deceive. The Governess's upbringing and social status make it difficult for her to believe that someone of less education and lower status has a comparable intelligence to her own; worse, that someone like Mrs. Grose, who cannot even read, would be capable of fooling her. Possibly, the Governess also falls back on the Judeo-Christian concept of evil being tied to knowledge; with less knowledge, Mrs. Grose would have less capacity for evil. James may rely on this fallacy, that someone less educated would be less capable of trickery, to prevent his readers (at least, at first) from suspecting Mrs. Grose.
Not only is the Governess unlikely to disbelieve Mrs. Grose, but she's predisposed to believing in the ghosts that Grose suggests, and to feeding that suggestion with her own hallucinations and additions, once she truly believes that there are ghosts at Bly. One reason she would be more likely to believe in ghosts was that she desired to impress her beloved employer; to appear a heroine to him, even though she logically knew that he'd never pay her any more attention. At the beginning of her tenure at Bly, she thinks "I was giving pleasure--if he ever thought of it!--to the person to whose pressure I had responded" (309); she fantasizes about the master appearing at Bly and doing nothing more than approving of her (310). And once she believes the apparently earnest, wholesome Mrs. Grose, she begins to see more ghosts than Mrs. Grose actually suggested (or, at the worst level of suspicion, set up for her to see); it's easy to see a ghost after she believes in one, and easier still if she's on the lookout for ghosts. She buys into Mrs. Grose's story and begins seeing things that cannot be explained, like Miss Jessel appearing and vanishing at her writing table (365). As her mental state becomes more and more unbalanced, she begins to make up things and tell them to Mrs. Grose--such as a conversation that she never had with Miss Jessel (367).
Mrs. Grose can't be trusted, because she's lying; the Governess can't be trusted, because she's mad; there is hardly anything in The Turn Of The Screw that can be trusted. Not even the narration of the Governess's manuscript escapes suspicion; if the Governess lies to Mrs. Grose, or if she's insane, why wouldn't she lie in what she writes? By not ever supplying a solid resolution, or even a shaky resolution--what we're left with after the final turn of the screw resolves nearly nothing--James treats his audience as he treats the Governess. Everything is subject to doubt; every character may be lying, insane, or possessed; and that is the appeal. Because it lacks a final, absolute truth, every time we approach The Turn Of The Screw, just like the Governess does with her mystery, we stumble into some new depth.

Works Cited

James, Henry. The Turn Of The Screw And Other Short Novels. New York: Signet Classic, 1962.

Full Name:  Jorge Rodriguez
Title:  The role of repression in Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw"
Date:  2006-01-30 18:53:44
Message Id:  17878
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One of the most troubling aspects of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" is determining whether the apparitions that the governess sees are real ghouls or mere hallucinations. Even after its conclusion, the novella provides no definite evidence that may help the reader decide and consequently, this question remains open to the interpretation of the reader. Usually one is eager to believe the governess as a trustworthy narrator and to conclude that the two children Miles and Flora were being threatened by the alleged ghosts of Peter Quint and the previous governess, Miss Jessel. But one needs to remember that since we are supposed to be reading the governess' manuscript, she could have omitted important facts and manipulated the truth according to her own choosing. Even if it never was her intention to become an unreliable narrator, she may be unconsciously repressing important aspects of the story. This seems to be the case in regard to her relationship with the children's uncle and her infatuation with him. Could it possibly be that the visions the governess sees are just the product of her repressed love for the master?

It certainly does seem to be the case that the governess was truly in love with the master and that she continued loving him throughout the course of the novella. In the prologue to the governess' manuscript, the characters speculate about the governess' affection for a certain man. Even Douglas, who claims to have known the governess, says: "Yes, she was in love. That is she had been. That came out- she could n't tell her story without its coming out" (James, p. 5). As Douglas continues his account of the events and as he describes the man that the governess was going to be working for, her reasons for falling in love with him become obvious: "this prospective patron proved a gentleman, a bachelor in the prime of life, such a figure as had never risen, save in a dream or an old novel, before a fluttered anxious girl out of Hampshire vicarage" (p. 7). The governess therefore had enough reasons to admire the master as he proved to be the promise of prosperity for a young girl of a declining class.

This love first becomes obvious when the governess sees the first apparition. She admits to have been thinking of someone when she first saw the so-called ghost of Peter Quint: "some one would appear there at the turn of a path and would stand before me and smile and approve" (p. 19). What is even more surprising is her disappointment when it turns out to be someone else instead of her loved one: "the man who met my eyes was not the person I had precipitately supposed" (p. 20). She never clearly states, however, that she was necessarily thinking of the master, and neither does Douglas state in the prologue that it was the children's uncle with whom she had fallen in love with. But from the references made in both occasions, it is inevitable to conclude that the governess was thinking about the master, and, consequently, that the discussion in the prologue was making reference to him.

The ambiguity surrounding the identity of this man when he is mentioned in the governess' manuscript demonstrates the repression of her emotions. It is precisely because of this repression that the apparitions which haunt the governess have originated. After repressing her love for the master, these emotions recur in the shape of the apparitions. She is terrified by the visions because she is reminded by them of the love she has tried so hard to keep hidden. This is better explained by Sigmund Freud's study of the role of the 'uncanny' in literary works, as his theory provides new insight on James' novella. In his essay "The Uncanny", originally published in "Writings on Art and Literature", Freud states:

"If psycho-analytic theory is correct in maintaining that every affect belonging to an emotional impulse, whatever its kind, is transformed, if repressed, into anxiety, then among instances of frightening things there must be one class in which the frightening element can be shown to be something repressed which recurs" (Freud, p. 217).

Sigmund Freud's study of the 'uncanny' suggests that the apparitions seen by the governess are the product of her repressed love for the master. Furthermore, Freud's statement helps establish that the apparitions seem 'uncanny' to the governess because the emotions she has hidden for so long have now taken shape. It is important to remember, as mentioned before, that when these apparitions manifest themselves for the first time, when the governess sees Peter Quint by the tower, she had been thinking of the man she loves. An association between these apparitions and the repression of her feelings for the master then becomes obvious as she begins to have her hallucinations at one of the moments when she has the uncle in mind.

This reading of the novella according to Freud's theory raises further questions. Why is it that the apparitions that governess sees are those of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel instead of the master himself? And how does she come up with such vivid descriptions for both of them if she had never seen them before? In his essay "The Uncanny", Freud describes the concept of the 'double', or "a doubling, dividing and interchanging of the self" (p. 210). In the case of the governess, she unconsciously doubles her repressed love for the master with the secret relationship that the previous governess was involved in. Consequently, Peter Quint and Miss Jessel become a reflection of the master and the governess or, as Sigmund Freud would call them, their 'doubles'. According to Freud's arguments, it is the 'uncanny' similarity among these four characters and their different relationships which validates the governess' association of the apparitions with her repressed love. Since the apparitions act as a symbol of her hidden desires, this doubling actually becomes the method by which she processes her anxieties and thus produces her hallucinations.

This concept of doubling also accounts for the fact that the governess sees an apparition of Peter Quint and not of the master himself. Although she is really in love with the master, Peter Quint symbolizes the man she truly loves. After she first spots him, the governess learns that he had been wearing the clothes of the master, for which reason she says that Quint was dressed "in somebody's clothes. They're smart, but they're not his own" (p. 29). After this initial suggestion that Quint is representing the master, we learn that he had been going out with Miss Jessel, the previous governess. This secret relation between Peter Quint and Miss Jessel then becomes representative of the relationship that the governess secretively hopes to have with the master.

The question still remains of how the governess knew how Quint and Miss Jessel looked like if they were both dead by the time she arrived at the house. As has been discussed, considering that it is the governess' manuscript what we are supposed to be reading, it is not impossible to believe that she may have omitted certain aspects of the story. Mrs. Grose certainly plays a crucial role in the novella, but she is not the only other employee at the house besides the governess. There definitively must have been others at the house that she does not mention in her narration. We can then assume then that the governess may have heard a description of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel from several of the other employees and, therefore, created a clear image of what they must have looked like. Furthermore, this all fits with Freud's theory about repression. We can then understand that the governess had repressed the descriptions that she had gathered from different sources and that she had unconsciously used them to create the images that appeared to her during her hallucinations. This would also account for the fact that she omits the instances in which any of the attendants have described the two dead ones.

Sigmund Freud's study of the 'uncanny' in literature truly helps us understand how an author can create this effect in his writings. Henry James certainly integrated many of these elements to produce the desired atmosphere in his novella "The Turn of the Screw". His use of ambiguity and of intellectual uncertainty surrounding the most crucial events in the story generates an 'uncanny' environment. However, Freud's essay provides more than a simple explanation of how James achieved his goal of making the novella so 'unfamiliar'. "The Uncanny" provides us with a better understanding of the characters and with answers to the most troubling questions. Freud's ideas permit us to understand why the governess saw such apparitions and why she was so frightened of them. Without the help of these Freudian concepts, the most problematic questions raised by the novella would remain unsolved.

Works Cited:

James, Henry. "The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction". Bantam Books, October 1981.

Freud, Sigmund. "Writings on Arts and Literature". Stanford University Press: 1997

Full Name:  Christopher Haagen
Username:  chaagen@hc
Title:  Loving Between the Lines: Unrequited Love through Transmission and Retelling of Stories
Date:  2006-01-30 20:56:01
Message Id:  17883
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While Henry James begins his novella Turn of the Screw with a story, it often goes ignored and skipped over in an analysis of the work. While there exist multiple stories within the novella as a whole, many choose to only focus on the Governess' story, and only when that story becomes confusing, do parts of the preface get considered. This leads to a short sided interpretation because the preface is a part of the story, and must be consider in any analysis, just as all chapters in a book must be observed to understand a novel. The obvious difficulty is the limited exposure the reader has with the original characters, and the lack of identity there exhibit. For this reason they can be overshadowed by the later characters. To keep from being distracted and forgetting them, it is necessary to do a close reading of the preface, and look at how looking at the narrators as characters interacting with the rest of the novel can affect the final meaning. Through this interpretation, the theme of unrequited love and the eroticism of story telling shed light on a very confusing ending and connect the story as a whole. This connection both bridges the transition and gives the reader the possibility that maybe the ending is meant to be nonsensical or misunderstand, which is the same interpretation all of the characters in the novel are left with.
The preface to the novel frames the story in three settings, the story of Governess, the story of the Campfire told by the Narrator, and the ambiguous outside commentary as an indication of a future time. The second story is the one to be largely focused on, which is the presentation and the setting up of the ghost story about the Governess. It is a short story, only a few pages in length, told by an ambiguous narrator that remains unnamed and completely unidentified, telling the story of the presentation of a ghost story around the campfire. It is told as a memory, as we find out from the narrator that main character of the preface, Douglas, has died at a later date. What needs to be looked at it what is the result of having this preface and what are the characteristics of Douglas and the narrator when they are thought of as more than just narrators. In using a preface, it not only influences the opinions of the reader, but also makes the reader read the narrators not as an omniscient faceless narrator, but as characters with identities to be considered when understanding the entire story.
To begin the analysis, it is important to show how initially these characters work to influence the reader. The most basic role is thinking of them as a framing device is that it gives a biased view of the Governess before the reader meets her. This narrow of a reading, which is very common, will be shown to not properly take into account several details, and comes to a incomplete and unfulfilling conclusion. In a reading without the judgment of the preface, the conclusion of the novella is simply, which is the idea that the governess is crazy, and that none of the ghosts are real. The line that she is a wonderful woman is immediately validates her, and it causes the reader to go along with this idea until very late in the novella, when it almost is impossible with the details given to confirm this statement. Once the reader becomes aware of these details, the focus changes from trying to defend the governess, to being skeptical of every statement she makes, and even her perception. The reaction by the readers from this class becomes outrage that they cannot say whether the governess is lying to them, or if this is actually a ghost story. While there was suspicion with one of the narrators, and even Henry James for creating such a nonsensical story, the person who never takes any blame is the actual narrator, or Douglas, both of whom validates the story and believes in the perception of the governess.
There is an obvious problem with this if one is to take the first assumption that the governess is crazy. For the governess to be crazy, then there would have to be either some craziness or at least ignorance like Ms. Grose. While they can read, it appears they do not fully understand the story, or at least the narrator does not. For this reason, the focus of an analysis has to consider what the identity of the two narrators, Douglas and the unnamed narrator. The question that comes to mind is what is the affect they have on the narrative once considered as characters?
In answer to this question there needs to be an analysis of the identities of these characters. The first role they have, and main role is the transmitters of the text. The first characteristic of the transmission of the text is how both sacred and strange the exchange of the text is. While others around the campfire are telling stories that appear to just be made up or remember, Douglas goes through a great labor to obtain his story (291). For him to get the story, he must go into town, to send a letter to a person, who will send him the key, which he has to take and open a locked drawer that contains the manuscript in it (292). There are two devices acting here. The first is the role of acting solely as a preface to provide anticipation to the audience, both around the campfire, and the ones reading it. The other is to set up the idea of transmission, and the implied emotions and sacredness that goes along with it.
For the discussion of adding to the anticipation, Douglas frames the Governess' story by separating it from the presumed other stories that have been told. Along with the difficulty to of acquisition, the interpretation is just as hard. The one of the characters around the campfire, Ms. Griffin exclaims that the story will answer a certain question, which Douglas response by saying: "The story will won't tell.. not in any literal, vulgar way" (294). In this statement he is implying that there is not a way of understanding it through just hearing or reading the story. Instead there is really only one way to understand the true emotion of the piece, that being the knowledge of the governess. Douglas shows a great deal of admiration for the woman, and therefore, there is a sense that he has both a deeper understanding of the story and is more affected. In saying such a comment, Douglas is insinuating that unlike the others who have little emotion tied to their stories, he has a great deal invested in it, implying a deeper power to it.
Yet, the complication of retrieval is more than just a device to increase excitement for the story. The larger point deals with how this preface to the Governess' story becomes a story in itself, and creates characters and identities just as strong and important as the governess story. The reason for a greater affection for the story is explained also by the sacredness associated with the retrieval of this particular story. The retrieval is a journey, and the transmission has a sacred feeling to it. The first mention of that aspect is the ordeal Douglas has to go through to obtain it, followed by the mention of how long it took him initially to get the story. She did not write the story until ten years after, waited ten years before sharing this story, and then has been dead for twenty years (294). It is only with her death does he gain the authority to tell this story. This adds the element of death to the transmission and retelling of stories. Douglas receives the story once the governess dies, which is paralleled by the narrator getting Douglas' story when he dies. This theme is seen in many different texts, most notably, by two other 19th century texts, Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Marlowe and Ishmael are not the centers of their stories, but instead pseudo-characters who tell the story of crazed leaders. Moby Dick is much easier to interpret as the story of Ahab's downfall, as is Heart of Darkness more analyzed as the destruction of Kurtz. Yet, as both of those characters are fallen, then the story becomes Marlowe and Ishmael's to tell. Similarly, the Governess dies; and the story of the ghosts goes to Douglas, and with Douglas' death, the story of the campfire is the narrators.
Since the story is in a sense a carrying the burden of the person who it is about, there is a sense of unrequited emotion associated with the retelling. In Linda Kauffman's analysis of the preface of the text, she frames her argument with the question: Why does the governess write this story, and who is it to? Although Douglas receives the text in the end, unless several assumptions are made, it is impossible that he could have been the intended reader as she does not meet him until ten years after writing the text. Instead Kauffman's interpretation is that the intended audience is her employer . There are two main ideas that go with this interpretation, is the idea of dealing with unrequited love and governess continual creation of images . The first idea is that if her love with the employer was requited, then there would be no need for a story to be written. He will never read it, so it is in a way her dealing with the fact that she cannot have him. While she is directed the story at her failed love, she is really writing about her own passion. This projected passion leads into the next idea, which her intending it for the employer displays her projective personality. As Douglas points out, the governess had only met her employer twice (297). Therefore, the person she is in love with must have been a created image, and similarly, the ghosts who she purports to see can be seen as projections of her fear.
Along the same lines, Douglas retelling of the story can show his love for the Governess or his image of her. Similar to the relationship of the Governess and her employer, there is a lot of the same feeling that exists between Douglas and the memory of the governess. While he is not particularly moved the love for the employer, but instead, he is moved by "the beauty of her passion" (297). In his act of turning his back while describing her passion, there is a sense of anguish on his part, like something has been left incomplete or unrequited. For there is limited interaction that is described between the two, the woman who he loves is not the actual governess, but the character in the story, but the narrator of the story. This point can be seen prominently in the erotic manner in which the beginning of his reading is described, "that was like a rendering to the ear of the beauty of his author's hand" (298). While Douglas cannot be with her, there is a sexual aspect to his reading of her story. In his reading of her words there is an intimate act of touching, displayed both the in touching of the words on the manuscript she has written, and the taking on of her thoughts and passion. Through his reading, he transforms into her, takes on her words, worries and passions, the very same passion and worries he so dearly loves.
While this explains Douglas as the narrator of the Governess' story, there still leaves the question of why the narrator is narrating of Douglas story of telling the Governess' story. Before going into this peculiar question, it makes sense to just touch base and go over what is known about the narrator. The narrator has no name, no age, and most importantly, no gender. While readers across the board view the narrator as a male, there is nothing other than the implied andocentricism that would lead the reader to this conclusion. The only action as a character the narrator exists as is an admirer of Douglas' pursuit and telling of the story. The greatest emotion that is seen out of this ambiguous character is that when he/she receives the manuscript from Douglas (295). When looking at the governess reason for writing, as well as the Douglas' choice for telling the story, there is an easier interpretation for intent because they are both presented as more complete and rounder characters. On the other hand, the unnamed narrator is almost completely blank. Therefore to try and understand his or her role, the main focus has to be to focus on the patterns already discussed in conjunction to Douglas and the Governess.
The key similarity between all three story tellers is how they go unnoticed by the one they care for. While they all exhibit desire and emotion towards something, it always goes unnoticed and unrequited. The reader can more clearly see this with Douglas and the Governess, yet it can be seen with the unnamed narrator as well. The pure anonymity of the narrator in the story of Douglas can be paralleled by the pure anonymity of Douglas in the story of the Governess. Both instances indicate an unrequited passion that goes unconsummated, which serves as inspiration for the telling and retelling of stories. With that said, the telling of the story of the governess is Douglas' tribute to her, similarly the story of the camp fire is the unnamed narrator's tribute to Douglas .
As they all repeat their stories, it does not bring them to any conclusion. The story that is told and the reader is left with has no literal conclusive ending. While some have explained it as a highly erotic ending with the falling in love of miles (who would become Douglas) and the Governess , this interpretation does not explain the use of the initial story, or why include the unnamed narrator. Instead, the stronger, fuller interpretation is the one that literal reading leaves the reader with, that is, a sense of emptiness and confusing. Why would Miles die of a sight that we all believe he has seen before. Why would he die after he has repented for doing wrong by stealing the letter? In scrambling attempts at interpretation, some will say that the narrator is a liar or crazy, and therefore her narration can not be trust. Others look at the story as a commentary of the fear of sexuality . Yet, I think the most helpful interpretation is the interpretation the there is confusion in this story. There is confusing for the governess never being with the employer, there is confusion for Douglas for never requited his love with the governess, there is confusion for narrator who never shares his or her love with Douglas, and lastly for the reader, there is confusion why the story does not come to an explanation. An important idea is while all of the stories start at different times, they all end at the same place, with the stopping of Miles heart (403). The beauty of the story is that all characters are left in confusion, even the reader who is not given any outsider preference.
As a concluding point, the failure of Ms. Griffin's story is not that it only features one child instead of two like in Douglas' story, but that it presents the story in a tight and vulgar way. The spookiness of this story is not because of ghost, but because of the questions left over. Ghosts are the representation of the end of reason and interpretation. In a similar way, the text operates on that principle, and the success of Governess, Douglas, the unnamed narrator, and of course James, relies on this devices. Once a story is understood, then the reading can stop, and the thinking can stop. Yet, because we have an unsuccessful, unrequited relationship with the text, there is a need to keep reading it, just as each of the narrators has to keep retelling their stories. The last desire that exists in the text is the readers' unrequited love with the unnamed narrator, whose story we will continue to tell, not necessarily to solve any puzzle but to focus on our own passion for searching.

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