HENRY JAMES
THE TURN OF THE SCREW
BY TIHANA MALIČ
Other than literary or scientific
influences
• Characters are ‘drawn from life’
• The Turn of the Screw grows out of social
attitudes at the end of the 19th century
GHOST STORIES AND GHOST
CASES
• Some critics have tried to connect the
story with other ‘ghost stories’ in the
gothic tradition
• Connection with ‘ghost cases’ reported to
and by practitioners of ‘psychical research’
FREUD
• Edmund Wilson (in 1934) – used ‘Freudian
symbols’ to explain some objects and
settings in the story
• reactions against governess’s mental state
Ghosts are real & the governess is
mad
• In the early 1970s
• Earlier these two were mutually exclusive
1980s and 1990s
• ‘Both’ or ‘We cannot decide’
• Marcia M. Eaton’s ‘Speech-act theory’
• Use of technical methods
• Use of terminology – semantics, linguistics
and syntactics (counting ‘dashes’, looking
for ‘signs’, etc.)
Marxist and gender-based
interpretations
• Differs from the psychoanalytic view of the
governess
• Presents the governess as a member of
struggling lower-class
Feminists approach
• Defends the governess
• If the governess was ‘male’ it would not
be debatable whether ‘he’ was sane or not
Recent approaches
• The homoerotic view of the story
• Henry James’s homosexuality reflected in
the story
• Oscar Wilde’s trial
Finding ‘the meaning’!
• In 1990s Andreson argues that ‘reading’
the story is no longer possible because
reading suggests finding a meaning…
• ‘the meaning’ hasn’t been found yet!
WORKS CITED
James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. Ed. Peter G. Beidler. Bedford / St.Martin, 2004.
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Older and newer critical approaches to The Turn of the Screw