The Turn of the Screw Essay

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In the following essay, Bell discusses the thematic use of the principle of uncertainty in The Turn of the Screw.

The preoccupation of a generation of critics with the reality status of the ghosts in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw has always seemed to me misplaced. One may grant that the spectral appearances to which the governess in the tale testifies cannot be proven to be supernaturally actual or her illusion, that we are in a condition of uncertainty over the question and that the story merits the title of "fantastic" which Todorov gives it. But is this not a minor source of our interest? The reader's epistemological quandary, his inability to be positive about how to "take" the phenomena reported by the narrator is, of course, rooted in his inability to verify or refute her first-person account; we cannot escape the enclosure of her...

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This section contains 6,597 words
(approx. 17 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Turn of the Screw Study Guide
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