The Turn of the Screw
A History of Its Critical Interpretations 1898 - 1979
Edward J. Parkinson, PhD

Chapter VI - Culminations: 1970-1979


During the 1970's criticism of The Turn of the Screw continued to be dominated by the work's "ambiguity" and apparent susceptibility to a multitude of seemingly conflicting interpretations. Criticism during this period can be divided into two types: that which seeks to "solve" the ambiguity by ascertaining the "real meaning" of the work or the "correct answers" to the problems it poses--to achieve, in Hirsch's words, "the winning of firmly grounded agreement that one set of conclusions is more probable than others" (qtd. in Brenda Murphy 192); and that which "draws our attention away from the referential aspect of a work of art--its prolongations into reality--and toward its structural cohesion, which is taken as its principal source of inspiration" (Bersani qtd. in Goetz 335). Turn of the Screw criticism of the latter type tends to consider the ambiguity insoluble and to rejoice in the multiplicity of readings offered by the work.

1. Criticism Attempting to Ascertain the "Meaning" or "True Content" of the Work

A. Criticism Elucidating Psychological and/or Philosophical Themes in the Work

a. Holloway

Sr. Marcella M. Holloway, C.S.J. further developed Collins's, Rubin's, and Trachtenberg's exposures of the striking similarities between Douglas and Miles and consequent suggestions that Douglas and Miles are the same person. Holloway weaves these striking similarities into a new and highly original interpretation of the story.

While Trachtenberg had seen the story as a near-death confession from Douglas, Holloway read the narrative as a pre-mortem confession from the governess to Douglas. Although Holloway accepts as factual the meeting between the twenty-year-old Douglas and the thirty-year-old governess which is narrated in the prologue, she suggests that the events at Bly may never have taken place. Instead, she suggests that the governess's narrative may be "a kind of allegory sent from the borderland of death to a man she loved" (10).

Holloway reminds us of the love between Douglas and the governess which neither "spoke of" at the time and recalls that neither ever married. The story--which reveals her unrequited love for the employer and for Miles, both of whom resemble Douglas--is "the story of a man and woman who let love pass them by, repressed it" (12). The story is thus a confession of the governess's love for Douglas. It is also, however,--since Douglas reads the story to the interlocutors around the fire--Douglas's own story. It is "a dreadful allegory . . . the story of Douglas, of the Governess, of James himself, and ultimately of the readers who share in the terrors of suppressed love" (14).

The moral, however, is not that Douglas and the governess should have married. For the governess's love--because of her repressed and misunderstood sexuality--would have been neurotic, possessive, and destructive even in marriage. This is the governess's complementary purpose:

. . . to make manifest in her confession her sexual neurosis, to warn Douglas that she would have been no good for him after all. She would have smothered him with her neurotic love, killed him utterly, and he would have found her out and called her as Miles does in her story, `a devil' (14).

Holloway's reading is even more plausible because she relates her psychoanalysis of these fictional characters to telling insights regarding "James' own personal problems" (16-17) as reflected in his canon--Holloway suggests that "the governess is a heroine antithetically akin to James' May Bartram in `The Beast in the Jungle'" (14)--and to "the tone of James' own Notebooks written during the period which followed the fictional and dramatic crises of his middle career" (17). Holloway does not offer a detailed discussion of James's psychology or psychosexual history--she does, however, allude to the work of Cranfill and Clark, Shine, and others.

Her focus remains literary. She is careful to relate her psychological and philosophical insights to the story's effect on the reader:

The story . . . has had such wide appeal not because it reflects James's own personal problems but because he has touched upon a fundamental truth of human existence: `Virtue and vice coexist in each of us.' This is a truth of human nature which must be assimilated before the claim to maturity can be made. The Governess from her deathbed dared to be honest. If fiction is truer than life, her little fiction still haunts us all because of an unpleasant truth. Confessions are never of pleasant truths (17).

b. Nardin: Holloway With a Marxist Twist

Jane Nardin also reads the story as an indictment of repressed and unrequited love. However, while Holloway seems to see the root of the problem in individual pathology--the "neurosis" of the governess and/or Douglas--Nardin sees unrequited and repressed love as the natural consequence of

the cruel and destructive pressures of Victorian society, with its restrictive code of sexual morality and its strong sense of class consciousness. . . . Because the adult characters in The Turn of the Screw are trying to live by a set of social and moral norms that deny or frustrate some of the basic impulses of human nature, their good intentions turn sour and they begin to show marked signs of strain and mental deterioration. As Miles and Flora receive their education in this set of false values, their innocence is gradually corrupted (132).

Sexual repression is rampant in The Turn, suggests Nardin, because "Victorian standards defining socially proper marriages are so narrow that the necessity of following them frequently frustrates the desire for love, with unwholesome results" (132). Sexual repression, however, is part of a broader pattern. Miles and Flora's love for their surrogate parents, Quint and Jessel, must also be repressed because the latter are the children's social inferiors.

Unlike Holloway, Nardin assumes that the governess's narrative is largely factual. Like Holloway, however, she sees the Douglas of the prologue as a "wistful bachelor brooding over his lost love forty years after the event." She sees the repressed love between the governess and Douglas as a mirror image of the repressions which occurred at Bly.

If so, this vignette of frustrated love in the realistic frame narrative serves to reinforce the impact of the frustrated love theme within the gothic tale itself, to suggest that throughout ordinary Victorian society there are people who carry through life the scars of love which society forbids (133).

Nardin accepts Goddard's explanation of the subconscious motivation for the governess's hallucinations.

The governess is well aware that the master sees her only as a servant. If she brings herself or her problems with the children to his attention, he will be displeased with her. In devising her demonic solution of the Bly mysteries the governess is partly motivated by her desire to be involved in a situation which will bring her to the master's attention without costing her his approval. Such a situation could only be the existence of a serious problem in the upbringing of Miles and Flora which she solves without appealing to her employer. Later he will somehow hear about it and will be delighted with the concern for his peace of mind which she has demonstrated. When she is actually confronted by a peculiar situation at Bly, the governess therefore has an emotional interest in magnifying its significance (140).

The governess is driven to these extremities, of course, because the caste system of Victorian Britain would not permit the employer to think of her as a romantic partner and because the economic realities of Victorian Britain have forced her to accept employment in an isolated and unpromising location.

Moreover, the "peculiar situation at Bly" which furnishes the material for her psychodrama exists largely because of the aforementioned caste system and the repressions it engenders. The "peculiar situation" includes not only the hallucinations of the repressed governess, but also the unnatural silence of the children concerning Quint and Jessel and the bad report which Mrs. Grose provides concerning the two deceased servants. Nardin explains these facts by postulating romantic love between Quint and Jessel and a close relationship between the two servants and the children. Nardin reminds us that Mrs. Grose gives us little if any particulars about the wickedness of Quint and Jessel, that Miles was expelled from school for "saying things," and that the children--although they are silent about Quint and Jessel--seem, until the very end, free of objectionable behavior. Nardin suggests that the "socially unworkable" attraction between Quint and Jessel would have seemed "horrifying" to the conventional mind of Mrs. Grose.

A governess may not fully qualify as a lady when marriage to her employer's son is at issue, but she is certainly too much of a lady to marry a valet. . . . In the Victorian era it was considered infinitely more shocking for a lady to wish to marry beneath her than for a gentleman to do so. Why would a lady want to break so sacred a social taboo as that prohibiting intermarriage between classes if a strong sexual attraction were not at least part of her motive? Her motive for marrying a working class man could not be social advancement, nor was it likely to be a personal affection--for how could she feel true affection for a man whose manners and education were so inferior to her own? By merely wishing to marry beneath her a lady proved that she lacked the innocence and purity of mind which Victorian mores expected of her. For Miss Jessel to express an intention to marry Quint would have been seen as proof of depravity. She would have lost her place and Quint might have lost his. Such a marriage was socially unthinkable. If Quint and Miss Jessel were truly in love, their position was a pitiable one (133).

Similarly, Mrs. Grose, who "liked to see young gentlemen not forget their station" (Turn 213) would have been upset by a close relationship between Quint and Miles. She might also have been jealous of the love between Quint and Miss Jessel and of the pair's closeness to the children. Mrs. Grose's prejudices, moreover, would have been shared by others in Victorian Britain--particularly, the authorities at Miles's school. In order to be expelled, suggests Nardin, Miles

must have violated an important social norm--so important that the school authorities decided to make an example of him. Though it is impossible to be sure exactly what Miles said, there is evidence to suggest that it had something to do with Quint and Miss Jessel's relationships with each other and with him. . . . If the orphaned Miles was really as close to Quint and Miss Jessel as Mrs. Grose suggests, it is natural that he should miss them and should be thinking about them on his return to school. But he already senses that he must not be too open about his relationship with them, for Mrs. Grose has accused him of `forgetting his station . . .' and has expressed her shocked disapproval of Quint's relationship with Miss Jessel. So Miles cautiously decides to speak of these lost friends only in secret, to `those he likes' (136).

Such speech would have resulted in extreme punishment:

To treat . . . basic Victorian social and sexual taboos so cavalierly, to corrupt other boys by imparting these immoral attitudes in secret, would call for drastic exemplary punishment . . . in secretly voicing egalitarian sentiments about Quint and Miss Jessel, Miles would have been striking at his school's raison d'etre: the preparation of status conscious gentlemen to fill their places in a stratified society (138).

Such a drastic punishment, moreover, would explain the subsequent silence of Miles and Flora.

Like Spilka, Nardin contends that, although the ghosts are hallucinations, the governess is a normal product of her culture.

. . . the fact that she has hallucinations does not prove that she is hysterical, insane, neurotic, or irrational. . . . The ghosts are the logical offspring of the governess' attempts to understand a complex human situation in terms of a cultural tradition incapable of yielding real insight (139).

She is influenced not only by the economic realities of her situation but also by her religious background, which Nardin suggests is probably "the Evangelical group within the Church of England." Particularly important

is the view of human nature and morality which she has received from her religious training. The governess' view of moral issues tends to run to extremes; for her, people are either good or evil (139).

The normality of the governess is readily apparent, says Nardin, when she is seen in the context of English literary history.

In her love-at-first-sight response to her master, the governess spontaneously recreates a standard situation in the English novel, dating at least as far back as Pamela: a middle-class girl finds an upper-class man immensely attractive, primarily because the lifelong possession of rank and money have given him style and an air of freedom. That Douglas sees the governess' infatuation for the master within this literary tradition is apparent from his reference to the master as `a figure . . . in . . . an old novel. . . .' It is to novels like Pamela and Clarissa . . . that we must look. . . (141).

Nardin's highly original synthesis of Freudian and Marxist insights has indeed, "by suggesting society as the demon of the piece, [located] another source of the pervasive, uneasy sense of corruption in The Turn of the Screw" (132). Her sociological approach offers a convincing way

to interpret the highly ambiguous The Turn of the Screw as a tale which is neither about evil metaphysically conceived, nor about madness clinically conceived, but rather as a story of a particular social milieu and the way it affects people living in it (142).

c. Cole

Robert Carlton Cole, like Spilka, combines Marxist and Freudian insights by suggesting that the governess's hallucinations spring from

hysteria caused by her repression of her awareness that social inequities will frustrate her love for her employer. Emphasis on that awareness as the cause of her hysteria sets this study apart from those--the majority of the psychological interpretations--that assume that her hysteria derives primarily from the repression of sexual love. The governess is not suppressing erotic feeling, but despair at being too low in the social hierarchy to hope for the master's attention (1-2).

Cole suggests that her desire to marry the employer is primarily a desire to become mistress of Bly. Following Wilson, Cole contends that the illicit relationship between Quint and Jessel corresponds to the relationship she desires between the master and herself. Cole adds, however, an original insight concerning the respective social positions of Quint and Jessel and the resulting Freudian "antagonistic inversion" which they represent:

In her projections, the two ghosts become the opposite of her concept of the two people who concern her most, herself and the master--Freud's `antagonistic inversion.' The master, socially unattainable, becomes in her projections his servant, Peter Quint, who would be her social inferior in `the scale'...which is so important to the governess (7-8).

Cole's argument consists mainly of close attention to the text's portrayal of the governess's symptoms of "hysteria"--"the linear progress of the governess' emotional so distinct that it could be plotted on the 'vital signs sheet' of a hospital patient proceeding irregularly through a series of peaks and depressions" (4-5), as well as her many statements betraying a preoccupation and dissatisfaction with her place in the Victorian caste system. He suggests also that Mrs. Grose is exercised over Quint and Jessel not knowing their "place" in the social hierarchy rather than over specifically sexual infractions and provides evidence that the governess and the housekeeper frequently misunderstand one another because of their different preoccupations and the latter's limited vocabulary. For example, Mrs. Grose may mean Quint was too "free" in disregarding caste distinctions, but the governess may interpret "free" as sexually unrestrained. Similarly, Mrs. Grose may agree that Quint and Jessel were "infamous" and that Flora's bad language "justifies" the governess without knowing what the words "infamous" and "justifies" mean. Cole also contends quite plausibly that Mrs. Grose--because of her precarious economic situation and consequent need of employment at Bly--is afraid to cross the governess even when she is distressed at the latter's destructive effects on the children.

Cole's dissertation is a cogent argument which convincingly synthesizes Freudian and Marxist approaches.

d. Mogen: A Less Marxist Spilka

As Nardin is a more Marxist variant of Holloway, so David Mogen is a less Marxist variant of Spilka. Like Spilka, Mogen reads the story as a parable in which the reader is expected to accept the existence of the ghosts and considers the ghosts to be representatives of erotic realities which Victorian society has repressed. His analysis, however, differs from Spilka's in two important respects: first, Mogen does not provide a detailed explanation of how this repression is grounded in conflicts of interest between different economic classes, although he does compare this repression to "a luxurious cell where...awareness struggling for release is confined for the convenience of others" (235); secondly, Mogen seems explicitly to disavow the desirability of social protest--instead, "the challenge which confronts [the governess], which she is not equipped to meet successfully, is to accept the presence of the ghosts without forcing the children to confront them publicly" (235). Thus, just as Holloway sees the source of the problem in individual neurosis, so Mogen sees the solution in an individual and private acceptance of realities which society need never acknowledge.

Indeed, the governess's public acknowledgement is destructive, according to Mogen. It is this public flouting of conventions which causes the governess to fail where Maggie Verver had succeeded. Unlike Maggie Verver, who in her wisdom "neither denies the truth, nor breaks down the forms that protect her culture from confronting it directly" (233), the governess, with

no strategy for survival...breaks down all the forms of civility by which her culture avoids confronting its duplicity. She forces a confrontation between the children's pose of innocence and their furtive acquaintance with eroticism and nightmare, and the result is insanity and death....Her mistake is to assume that the forms can be dispensed with--and the result is psychic and social disintegration (233).

Here Mogen is reminiscent of critics such as Lydenberg who have argued that the governess aggravates otherwise quiescent evils.

She becomes the embodiment of the horrors she wrests from the children, but she threatens their security more traumatically than the ghosts did, since she leaves them nowhere to hide. By entering into open battle with the bad-faced strangers, the governess only shatters the precarious defenses of her kingdom and delivers it into their power (233).

Interestingly, and perhaps inconsistently, Mogen holds that these social forms are important precisely because of the unhealthy and all-pervasive repression which, in his view, ought not to be publicly challenged. "Where hysteria threatens constantly to disrupt the placid surface, maintaining the forms becomes more than a matter of style. It is a necessity of survival" (232-233).

Mogen's view of the governess's unconscious motivations for her hallucinations is similar to the view propounded in Wilson's 1938 essay. Mogen goes beyond Wilson, however, in imputing also to the children the eroticism which the specters represent.

If the apparitions embody the children's most hidden and guilty experience, they also represent a debased and frightening parody of the governess' own fantasies--their erotic relationship parodies her romantic attraction to the children's bachelor uncle, and Miss Jessel's pale disgrace confronts her with her own most intolerable desires and anxieties (233).

Although he does not discuss James's psychology extensively, Mogen seems to accept Edel's view of The Turn of the Screw as the product of a psychological crisis from which James subsequently recovered. He sees in The Golden Bowl a resolution of problems unresolved in The Turn of the Screw. Maggie Verver, unlike the governess,

finally...sees the `forms' in perspective: they are instruments to be employed for the purposes of a conscious and all-embracing love, which can be ignored without fear or regret when they have no utility (240).


in The Golden Bowl the hysteria of James's Victorian girl is transformed from a helplessly destructive obsession to the source of a regenerative power of love. The cracked bowl, unlike the desolated garden at Bly, is finally an emblem of new life, the shattered husk of a growing thing (241).

Of course, the solution which Maggie Verver finds--and which Mogen appears to commend--is a private solution to an unacknowledged social problem, whose basis in economic conflicts between classes Mogen does not discuss. Might we classify Mogen's reading as "bourgeois Spilkaism"?

e. Grunes: Synthesis of Freudian and Mythic Criticism

Dennis Grunes combines psychoanalytic and mythic criticism in an interpretation which locates the origin of the governess's hallucinations and delusions in her unresolved oedipal problems and then demonstrates how--as she interprets the events in light of her Calvinist background--she weaves a "parody of Christian myth" (230) in which "Christ's redemption of us has been confused with the Fall from which we are redeemed" (231).

Grunes suggests that the governess has been driven from her country home to London and from there to Bly because of the threat of "incestuous love" between herself and her father--"whether this is the result of longings of her own, his advances, or both" (228). This explains the "disturbing letters" she receives from "home where things are not going well." She comes to Bly tormented by guilt and fear concerning her incestuous cravings and pity and remorse because of "what she has done (leaving home and father) and terribly lonely over where she is" (228). She cannot love a man--the employer or any other--in a healthy way or care for children in a wholesome way, "since now for her love and incest are dangerously confused" (229). Her fears are exacerbated by the overvaluing of parental authority which has been so much a part of her strict Evangelical upbringing: " have gone out on her own, as she has done, is to have gone the devil's way" (229).

Because of her incestuous cravings which taint any sexual attraction, her loneliness, guilt, and sexual frustration, and her infatuation for the employer--her repressed sexual fantasies take the form of a demonic and sexualized counterpart of the uncle, who is also her father. She later sees Jessel as a counterpart to herself in sexual union with the male specter.

Quint's ghost looms as an unshakable infernal image of the governess's own father, the Christian name giving him away (from the Latin pater meaning father, recalling Saint Peter, father of the Church) (228).

The governess then projects these fantasies onto the children and seeks to "save" them as a way of saving herself.

That she unconsciously interprets the carnally connected ghosts as herself and her father suggests--besides a traumatic reason for having left home--what the governess ultimately fears regarding her charges. In other words, she projects onto the children her own sexual obsession, imagining all the while that they are being encouraged by the ghosts of those who had been their demonstrative private tutors in forbidden love. The siblings' affection for one another becomes a horror for her (as when Miles puts his arm around his sister `to keep her quite in touch'), much as her father--as Quint--looks like the very devil (with hair and beard the flaming color of carnality) because he now, for her, embodies incestuous love... (228).

Her desire to "save" the children, according to Grunes, is a desire not only to escape from her own incestuous cravings and the threat of their fulfillment, but also to reconcile herself to the father whom she pities and regrets leaving.

Whatever else it may be, her ambition to `save' the children is an attempt to fulfill her father's ministerial role, thereby reconciling preacher and daughter as pure ministers of God. She will risk all--herself as well as her charges--to obliterate an evil past in the hope of salvaging a future of innocence regained (230).

As she attempts to save the children, however, her ministerial efforts become a "parody of Christian myth" (230). For the governess herself, the would be savior, is the one in need of salvation. "...the children are the ones--especially Miles...who must save her" (230) by becoming victims of her obsessions and delusions. His death, suggests Grunes,

may purge the girl of the obsession Miles had embodied, especially if she believes she has saved his soul. Freedom from the dread that had driven her from her father might explain how this hysterical woman became for Douglas, who reads us her manuscript, 'the most agreeable' governess he has ever known (230).

We have here, of course, a clear parody of the Christian myth. In contrast to Christ, who is "a victim, but an ultimate one...whose suffering, part of a required master plan, is rewarded by the paternal God" and who "achieves the power of true divinity through his suffering," this unfortunate little boy "exists without such power to make his victimization and suffering meaningful....his innocence certifies only his impotence and proves his downfall, not his triumph" (231). In other words,

Miles is simply a victimized little boy whose grotesque function is to save a fanatic from the evil in her own mind that makes him seem evil to her. In this parody of Christian myth, Miles, unconscious of his redemptive mission, must confirm his innocence by confessing to an esoteric sin (230-231).

Grunes reminds us of many other children in Victorian literature who function as ironic Christ figures--for example, "Oliver Twist, an innocent who has no ability to redeem Bill Sykes, the sinful surrogate for us all" and Little Nell of The Old Curiosity Shop, "a failed Christ whose forgiveness her grandfather begs in a Christian reversal of age and youth" (231).

Grunes suggests that readers respond to such stories because they see in children their own lost innocence. "The transformation of the traditionally innocent child into a demon" allows us to transfer our incestuous and other forbidden impulses to something outside of ourselves and our experience. There is more here than projection. Children such as Miles and Flora, and Regan in The Exorcist, are not considered real people subject to blame. Human conflicts--for example, between parents and children--are explained away. Our children would be in perfect harmony with us, and we would be at peace with ourselves, were malicious supernatural beings not attacking from without.

It is not the fault of parents, Blatty's book assures us, that children rebel so; it is simply that Satan has gotten hold of them. Happily, this exonerates the young as well. They are helpless victims, still entitled to parental love (222).

Grunes's interpretation is an insightful combination of psychoanalytic and mythic criticism--showing how the psychological history of a disturbed woman becomes a parody of Christian theology. In the process Grunes provides thought provoking speculations as to reader responses to The Turn of the Screw , as well other Victorian and modern works.

f. Briggs: Freudian and Theological Criticism Intertwined

Because Julia Briggs finds in the story insoluble ambiguity deliberately engendered to augment the reader's experience of terror and because she offers insights as to how this ambiguity is effected, her criticism will also be discussed in the section of this chapter dealing with structuralist criticism. Here we will comment on an interpretation which she considers plausible, although not necessarily exclusively correct. This interpretation synthesizes psychoanalytic and theological approaches in a manner strikingly reminiscent of Lydenberg.

Briggs assumes that the ghosts are real supernatural entities which threaten the children, basing this observation not on detailed argumentation, but on the observation that "James's starting-point," according to the Notebooks, the Prefaces, and much of his correspondence, "was a story of two dead servants tempting two living children" (154). However, while the danger to the children may be real, the governess's unrequited passion for the employer soon seduces her into "projecting her personal fantasies upon the situation" (156).

Briggs's interpretation of these "personal fantasies" seems to combine Wilson's and Goddard's insights. Briggs points out that, in the governess's descriptions,

the three main male characters and the three female characters seem to merge, or assume aspects of one another's personalities... [suggesting] psychic impositions rather than real relationships (156).

Thus, Briggs agrees with Wilson that the sexual relationship between Quint and Jessel mirrors the governess's longed for relationship with the master and agrees with Goddard that her desire to sacrifice herself heroically for the master is an unconscious substitution for a sexual relationship with this man. Briggs's insight into the "merging" of these characters, however, allows her to explain the erotic attraction to Miles more coherently than either Goddard or Wilson had done. The fervent desire to "save" Miles is a desire for sex with Miles, who, for her, is equivalent to Quint and the employer.

Briggs combines psychology and theology in her suggestion that the aforementioned "strong motives of self-interest" lead the governess into the sin of "hubris," which in turn causes her to conduct an incorrect and ineffective exorcism and thus become a failed Pelagian savior.

...there is something akin to hubris in her assumption that she can exorcise the demon in Miles unaided, without `bell, book, and candle', without holy water or holy church....As the daughter of a clergyman she should surely have known better. Miles's death has an accidental air, as if he were caught between conflicting powers beyond her control, the helpless victim of a well-meaning amateur (155).

Briggs has offered an original and coherent interpretation which effectively synthesizes psychological and theological approaches. Interestingly, her view of the governess as an unsuccessful Pelagian savior and of Miles as the victim of an incorrect exorcism is shared by Voegelin (to be discussed shortly). Briggs, although similar to Lydenberg in combining psychology and theology in an approach unsympathetic to the governess, differs from the former critic in reading the story primarily as an indictment of Pelagianism rather than Puritanism and in holding that the governess sins in improperly confronting manifest evils rather than in bringing to actuality otherwise dormant evils.

g. Fryer: Mythic Criticism with a Feminist Twist

Judith Fryer sees in the governess--and, to a lesser extent, in Mrs. Grose--examples of the Great Mother, one of several female archetypal figures or "faces of Eve" appearing recurrently in American literature during the latter two thirds of the nineteenth century. Other "faces" include the Temptress, the American Princess, and the New Woman. Examples of the Temptress are Hawthorne's Hester Prynne, Miriam, and Beatrice--as well as Melville's Isabel and Holmes's Elsie Venner. The American Princess is a variant of

the pale maiden....a descendant of the sentimental heroine, whose story nineteenth century ladies read over and over, but...something more....she has indigenous qualities that distinguish her from the sentimental heroine, regal qualities that will eventually take her to Europe in search of old worlds to conquer....a unique combination of innocence and self-reliance (85-86).

However, "her self-reliance is more theoretical than actual....she is never threatening to men. A descendant of the sentimental heroine, her project is to get her man" (25). Examples are "the ethereal Lucy in Melville's Pierre...Hawthorne's Priscilla and Hilda, James's Daisy Miler, Milly Theale, and Maggie Verver...Isabel Archer" (86). The New Woman seeks "the place for the woman who swerves from the path laid down for her by tradition" (208). The following are some examples: Hawthorne's Zenobia; James's Olive Chancellor, Miss Birdseye, Mrs. Farrinder, and Dr. Prance; Howells's Dr. Breen and Eveleth Strange; and Kate Chopin's Edna Pontellier. The Great Mother, in the words of Erich Neumann, "in her function of fixation and not releasing what aspires toward independence and freedom is dangerous" (qtd. in Fryer 143). One type of Great Mother is the mother surrogate typified by Olive Chancellor, of which type the governess and Mrs. Grose are specimens:

Her characteristics--a desperate determination to possess and control coupled with an equally desperate fear of a loss of control, a strength born of belief in the rightness of her cause which amounts to a religious zeal, martyrdom--are those of the mother surrogates who haunt, or dominate, James's novels. The Governess, Mrs. Grose, Mrs. Bread, Mrs. Wix are all 'mother surrogates' who possess such qualities in varying degrees (152).

Two other types can be identified:

the `neglecters'...those actual mothers who are devoid of any maternal feeings: Mrs. Farange, Mrs. Moreen, and Mrs. Touchett....and finally...the real witch-bitches: Rose Armiger, Madame de Bellegarde and Madame Merle, who deliberately set out to destroy their victims (152).

All of these "Eves" are negative portrayals--or at least seriously incomplete in some way. This is true even of the New Woman portrayals. Zenobia, for example, commits suicide, while Miss Birdseye is "a ridiculous and pathetic caricature" (226) of a social reformer and Dr. Prance is "prancing around in a circle, going nowhere....with an absence of sexuality" (232).

These negative Eves are, moreover, according to Fryer, offshoots of "the myth of America as New World Garden of Eden,...the dominant myth of American culture" (vii). Accordingly, Fryer sees in this pattern of negative representations the anima images of male authors "who projected their own images upon their heroines" (x). They were led to do this, Fryer maintains, because of the industrial revolution, which led to the increased migration of women to cities where employment opportunities existed outside the home. "With the potential of economic independence open to her, not only was the basis of her subordination diminished , but the stability of the family was challenged as well" (10). Accordingly, this negative reaction occurred:

If Eve was the cause of the original Adam's downfall, the role of the New World Eve must be minimized. This time she must be kept in her place so that in the American version of the myth there will be no Fall (6).

Fryer's location of the governess and Mrs. Grose within the gallery of Great Mothers is based on a careful reading of the text.

The governess, Fryer points out, sees her own psychic projections, not real people. Thus,

she sees things only in terms of black and white; thus the children are beautiful and innocent at the beginning of the tale and ugly and evil at its conclusion. They are never just children--a mixture of good and bad, mischievous and angelic, serious and frivolous--as children often are (157).

Fryer lists a number of telling examples of the governess's dubious perceptions--pointing out, for example, the unlikelihood that Miles "had never for a second suffered" and "had--morally at any rate--nothing to whack" in view of his orphaned status and his dismissal from school. Her capacity for self-deception, Fryer suggests, has led her unconsciously to construct a psychodrama in which "she has imagined a role for herself in which she will provide the direction for the lost passengers, thus earning for herself the admiration of the master in Harley Street" (155-156). This leads to the destruction of the children--"Flora is driven mad and Miles is literally frightened to death"; consequently,

whether or not the ghosts are `real' is not important....What is important is the governess....The story is about her....the evil done to the done by the governess and far outweighs any potential evil effected through the machinations of any ghosts, real or imagined. The governess destroys the children by attempting to possess them (153).

Fryer lists many convincing examples of such possessiveness. She points out how the governess immediately moves Flora into her bedroom, keeps Miles out of school, and intercepts the children's letters to their guardian. Fryer notes also the revealing language the governess frequently applies to herself--for example, "I was like a gaolor with an eye to possible surprises and escapes" (159). In a telling discussion of the all-pervasive "threat of possession in a sexual sense" which is always "underlying the governess's overprotection of the boy" (159), Fryer points out how, in the last scene, the governess compares herself and Miles to a honeymooning married couple. Furthermore, Fryer points out "an...association of this kind of love with death, foreshadowing just what possession will mean for Miles" when their Sunday morning trip to church ends in the graveyard.

The governess, in fact, sinks down on a stone slab when Miles first inquires whether his uncle knows what is going on at Bly and then rebelliously marches into the church, leaving the governess alone on her tomb.

This same possessive love, moreover,

is associated with sickness...she even begins to listen outside his closed bedroom door. When he catches her there and refers to `this queer business of ours,' she sees him as `some wistful patient in a children's hospital,' like a convalescent slightly fatigued who needs mothering.

What follows is a series of kisses "that makes Miles look `as...sick children look,' makes him face the wall and beg her to let him alone" (159-160).

This possessiveness, Fryer suggests, is related to a quest for total knowledge of another person which, in nineteenth-century American literature, is frequently destructive.

One is reminded of Hawthorne, and beyond him of Poe: the governess loses the struggle for possession of the children (they are lost even if their souls are saved) because she attempts to know too much. In the Poe-Hawthorne-James tradition, knowledge is equated with evil, possession with destruction; to know, to possess is to destroy. One has only to think of `Rappaccini's Daughter,' `The Birthmark,' `Ethan Brand,' or `Young Goodman Brown' to understand that superhuman knowledge or the quest for perfection leads only to destruction. Possession by intellectual knowledge (or in this case, supernatural knowledge) is opposed to the more subtle and intuitive knowledge of the heart. To possess one's lover by complete knowledge inevitably leads to the destruction of the loved one--in this case the destruction of the children by the passionate devouring of the governess (161-162).

Mrs. Grose also, according to Fryer, should be seen as a "Jamesian mother-figure, potentially destructive in her capacity for possessiveness" (163). Fryer praises Dr. Aldrich for suggesting that Mrs. Grose is jealous of the governess's authority over the children and consequently may be encouraging her fantasies in order to drive her mad. Fryer also, like Aldrich, reminds us that most of our information about Quint and Jessel comes from Mrs. Grose, who may be a prejudiced observer jealous of Quint's interest in Miss Jessel. Fryer also reminds us of Mrs. Groses's strange statement that the employer "didn't really in the least know" Quint and Jessel, which seems to contradict her earlier assertion "that Quint was the master's personal valet and that the master put Quint in complete charge when Miss Jessel had to leave." Furthermore, suggests Fryer, her failure to report their misdeeds to the employer

is a puzzling admission on Mrs. Grose's part. It seems to reveal that she was content to ignore the 'infamy' of Quint and Miss Jessel (presumably their open and intimate sexual relationship) so that she could have complete control of the children (165).

Fryer has, in an original and interesting way, combined mythic and theological criticism with a psychoanalysis of the fictional characters and their author synthesized with sociological insights grounded in a feminist analysis of nineteenth century American culture. Her assertion that the negative Eves are male projections, however, is difficult to accept completely. Fryer's own analysis seems to suggest that the figures were, at least in part, accurate representations of reality. For example, terming "pure fantasy" James's extraordinary praise of his mother, Fryer says,

The younger brothers and sister were in fact crushed by the irrationalities and contradictions of the familial environment over which Mary James presided, and the novelist, while he surmounted them, was to re-create in his fiction these very contradictions (148).

She suggests also that governesses and tutors--Mrs. Wix and Pemberton, for example--were strongly inclined toward such possessiveness because of their precarious economic situation. Upper class women such as Madam Merle, on the other hand, derived some of their power precisely from that leisure--unemployment--which feminists so deplore.

James perceived `an abyss of inequality' in America, `the like of which has never before been seen under the sun.' This inequality lay in `the growing divorce between the American woman (with her comparative leisure, culture, grace, social instincts, artistic ambitions) and the male American immersed in the ferocity of business, with no time for any but the most sordid interests, purely commercial, professional democratic and political.' Women in James's America have all the power, and in his fiction they are often strong and terrifying women--especially in their ability to manipulate others (149).

h. Mythic Criticism Leading to a Devaluation of the Novella and an Indictment of Twentieth Century Consciousness: Voegelin

In November of 1947 philosopher Eric Voegelin wrote a letter to Robert B. Heilman responding to the as yet unpublished manuscript of Heilman's famous 1948 article, "The Turn of the Screw as Poem." In this letter Voegelin praised Heilman for his theological approach and offered his own interpretation of the novella, reading the story as an indictment of Pelagianism. In January of 1970 Voegelin wrote an essay in which he adhered to the basic interpretation he had hitherto expounded but claimed that the novella was only partially successful in expressing its theme because the mythic elements did not adhere in a completely coherent pattern. Voegelin asserted that this type of effect is endemic in twentieth-century literature and traceable to a "deformation of consciousness" existing in the West since the Renaissance. Because both essays were published for the first time in the winter of 1971--in an issue of Southern Review devoted exclusively to studies of Voegelin and his philosophy--and because Voegelin intended the two essays to be read as a unit, both are discussed in this chapter, which deals with criticism in the 1970's.

In his letter to Heilman Voegelin contends that

the employer, the governess, and the housekeeper....symbolize, in this order, God, the soul, and the earthy, commonsense existence. The soul is released by God to enter on its struggle with forces of good and evil (children and apparitions). This release has the form of an employment, and of its acceptance, on very interesting conditions (10).

These "interesting conditions," Voegelin reminds us, are

`that she should never trouble him--but never, never: neither appeal nor complain nor write about anything: only meet all questions herself, receive all moneys from his solicitor, take the whole thing over, and let him alone.' The soul is on her own, burdened with the full responsibility for its problems, equipped with nothing but a living body (money from the solicitor) (11).

This foolish "assumption of full responsibility, without recourse to communication (prayers for help) and consequently without help (grace)"--an assumption which other applicants have wisely refused to accept--leads to "a horrible defeat." Thus, Voegelin interprets the novella as "a study of the demonically closed soul...possessed by the pride of handling the problem of good and evil by its own means" (11). In this preoccupation James was a man of his time, for "the problem of `self-salvation' through the demonically closed human will...plagued everybody in the nineteenth century, particularly Nietzsche" (24).

Voegelin, with this interpretation, illuminates many elements in the plot of the novella.

For example, commenting on the governess's interception of the children's letters to the employer, Voegelin quotes the governess's admission that, in so doing, she

`carried out the spirit of the pledge given not to appeal to him.' The legalistic formulation of the `spirit of the pledge' shows that the anima is up to tricks. The letter of the pledge had only said that she, the governess, should not appeal to the employer; the interpretation of the spirit, that the children should not write, is her own. The employer had only enjoined the governing conscience, the responsible ego, not to appeal to him; he had not enjoined that no appeal should rise to him from the depth of the soul, overriding freedom, conscience, and ego. The `spirit' of non-communication, and of the repression of the desire for communication, is not the spirit of the employer; it is the spirit of the governess (13).

Voegelin, like many other critics, sees the confrontation with Miles on the way to church as a climactic point. He--like Fryer and Briggs, among others--notes her sitting on a tombstone before returning to Bly and encountering Miss Jessel in the schoolroom. Voegelin suggests that the governess commits spiritual suicide by her definitive refusal to contact the employer, which she terms a refusal to "sacrifice" him. The employer must be sacrificed, and this sacrifice must be accepted if the soul is to live. Thus, she rises from the tombstone spiritually dead and from then on becomes more and more like Miss Jessel. The identification is complete when, at the final appearance of Miss Jessel, Flora, when commanded to look at the apparition, instead looks at her present governess with "reprobation."

Voegelin reminds us that Quint first appears when the governess is walking around Bly in "a mood of

possessiveness and justification" and wishing to be seen and approved of by the employer. This wish to be known by God not as she really is but as she wishes to see herself, Voegelin suggests, unconsciously invites the demonic presence. "The apparition has materialized out of her dream--and when a woman dreams of someone who will know her, she may be known by someone other than she dreamt" (16).

Voegelin provides an interesting analysis of the governess's remarks about "nature" in her narration of her final encounter with Miles.

At this juncture she felt `how my equilibrium depended on the success of my rigid will, the will to shut my eyes as tight as possible to the truth that what I had to deal with was, revoltingly, against nature.' The interruption with the `employer' is now driven a step further; the will has become rigid in its blindness to the supernatural. The supernatural is, `revoltingly, against nature.' And what is this `nature'? Here James himself puts the term into ironical inverted commas. `I could only get on at all by taking `nature' into my confidence and my account.' What is going on must still be happening within `nature.' The `monstrous ordeal' of the governess can be no more than `a push in a direction unusual, of course, and unpleasant.' It can demand no more by way of treatment than the means which she has employed hitherto, that is `another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue.' She has a little doubt whether it will work, for, after all, this is an `attempt to supply, one's self, all the nature.' No more will be thrown into this last battle than the nature and will of the ego. And, let us not forget, the nature and common sense of the housekeeper have departed with Flora. So the governess begins turning the screw still further (14).

Unfortunately, in the penultimate paragraph of this letter, Voegelin mars his otherwise coherent presentation by suggesting that "Quint and Miss Jessel, in the mythical pre-history of the story have been united by an unspeakable bond" of brother-sister incest and that "the ultimate, metaphysical conception of James goes back to a vision of the cosmic drama of good and evil as an incestuous affair in the divinity" (23-24). Voegelin never develops the idea of "the mythical pre-history of the story" and never explains what he means by "an incestuous affair in the divinity"--which, come to think of it, may be just as well.

In his subsequent commentary on the letter to Heilman, Voegelin declared,

I no longer believe that James's symbolism permits a direct translation into the language of philosophy at all. This decision was not reached in a day but reflects the change in our view of modern literary and ideological movements that has occurred since the last World War (25-26).

Voegelin began by noting

an incongruity between the terms of God and man, the Puritan soul and common sense, the passion of self-salvation, grace, and damnation and the Jamesian symbols which carried these meanings...surrounded by a ghostly aura of indistinctness (25-26).

Furthermore, when Voegelin

tried to pursue the symbols through the labyrinth of the story, the distinct core tended to be shrouded by the fogginess of meaning that pervaded the work as a whole. How did, for instance, the drama of the Puritan soul come by the motif of incest? Or, how did the splendid young man in Harley Street, the symbolistic God, come by his rather peculiar divine nature? Or, what kind of a Garden of Eden--the symbol to which Heilman had given special attention--was this garden of the story that could be understood as the Heavenly Paradise in which the original fall had occurred, but also as the Terrestrial Paradise into which the `governess' had been released, and then would ironically change into the locale of the unparadisical mess a `governing' soul makes of the human condition? Or, what relation did the symbolistic garden bear to the school from which the little boy was dismissed? (26)

Voegelin, like Enck--discussed in the preceding chapter--considers this failure of the parts coherently to "hang together" yielding a definite meaning to be endemic to twentieth century art. "The fuzziness of the symbols," he says,

as well as the general fogginess of meaning pervading the work, is a certain deformation of personal and social reality that was experienced as such by artists at the turn of the century and expressed by means of symbolistic art. The indistinctness and ambiguity is inherent to the symbols which express deformed reality (27).

Throughout his article, with considerable erudition, Voegelin provides evidence of the pervasiveness of this "indistinctness and ambiguity," citing numerous examples not only from literature, but also from painting, sculpture, music, and architecture. Unlike Enck, however, who saw this development as evidence of an evolutionary leap in the history of consciousness--an ability to simultaneously see reality from many angles--Voegelin sees this development as a manifestation of an underlying spiritual pathology, an intellectual blindness resulting from a rejection of God and objective truth in favor of narcissistic self-idolization. The rejection of God and transcendence, says Voegelin, constitutes a

fateful shift in Western society from existence in openness toward the cosmos to existence in the mode of closure against, and denial of, its reality. As the process gains momentum, the symbols of open existence--God, man, the divine origin of the cosmos, and the divine logos permeating its order--lose the vitality of their truth and are eclipsed by the imagery of a self-creative, self-realizing, self-expressing, self-ordering, and self-saving ego that is thrown into, and confronted with, an immanently closed world (27).

In art this "deformation" makes impossible the creation of a work such as "an Aeschylean drama in which the full articulation of various tensions is the mode of consciousness that makes the drama a tragedy" (27) and leads instead to

dream worlds that are meant to replace the world of God's making--be they the imagery of artists and poets, or the systems of speculative thinkers, or the dreams of social metastasis through revolutionary violence (34).

The inclusion of the latter possibility reveals Voegelin's all-pervasive conservative bias. The "deformation" of consciousness which he so strongly discountenances is, he contends, responsible not only for unsatisfying art, but also for anarchy and tyranny. Thus, "immanentist" thinkers such as Hegel and Nietzsche are at least partly responsible for movements such fascism and Nazism. Thus Voegelin ridicules "our contemporary neo-Hegelian professors" who "are shocked when their students respond to `critical theory' with uncritical violence" (35) and "the closed Eden" of such thinkers becomes an arena for "the men of action `who make their strength their God' (Habakkuk 1:11)" (33).

Voegelin compares the garden symbolism in The Turn of the Screw to Milton's Eden. In both cases, he suggests, "paradise is somehow out of focus, measured by the standards of a paradise that is lost for good and will be regained only through grace in death." In the Jamesian novella,

the Paradise in which unspeakable things have happened among Quint, Miss Jessel, and the lost. At the beginning of the story, it has become the paradise regained in which the governess is given her chance. At the end of the story, the paradise regained has become a paradise lost again (28-29).

Similarly, says Voegelin, Milton's Adam and Eve, upon their expulsion, are promised "A Paradise within thee happier far" which becomes the "tortured symbolism of an Eden dragging through history toward the end of its misery in metastatic conflagration" as "the Edens begin to multiply." Christ overcomes Satan and establishes a new Eden, but, again, "man succumbs to temptation and sinks into pagan idolatry" or "Catholic horror," which, in turn, must be supplanted by a new Eden, a Puritan theocracy. This Calvinist thinking, according to Voegelin, is the beginning of the self-idolizing "deformation":

Does Milton's paradise, so blandly lost, still symbolize man's knowledge of a perfection that is not his in time and space? Can one really lose a paradise that is not present in the daily loss of the perfection man strives for in his imperfection? No, Milton has not lost paradise, and, therefore, cannot regain it. He wants perfection in this world; he wants his Eden now...(31).

This "immanentist" concept of perfection leads to Pelagian self-reliance and a confusion between God and demonic forces within man--these patterns are reflected in both Milton and James.

The whole Trinity has been badly deformed by Milton. The Father has become a remote destiny that throws man into his condition and leaves him to shift for himself--as does James's young man in Harley Street. Man has become an `Energy' bounded by `Reason,' and `the Governor or Reason is called Messiah'--James's governess. And the Spirit is a vacuum--James's interception of the communications with Harley Street. The series of deformations leaves the Devil as the reality of man's life, of an energy bounded by reason (32).

Voegelin's provocative thoughts are certainly not above all question. His view of a rejection of transcendence beginning at the Renaissance is at least partly a psychological projection of his own. We could find considerable "closure" in the anti-empirical bias of medieval scholasticism, and there are no one to one correspondences between people's artistic tastes and the state of their souls. Voegelin's reactions to the artistic works of James and others are certainly not the only possible responses. For example,

in the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris...the accumulation of the master's work overpowers the viewer with the pedantic richness of its ornamental the recently restored Franz von Stuck Villa in Munich...the somnambulisme ideal of the implacably ornamented walls and ceilings oppresses the visitor so badly that with a sigh of relief he escapes from this prison the artist built for himself (38).

The reader of the Jamesian canon, says Voegelin,

will be struck by James's power of observation, by his perceptive irony, and his strength of intellect in developing the characters and their story....The figures, in search of a reality they somehow miss, are to James more than curious objects of realistic study; he is conscious of the deformity which compels them to create the carceri of their Edens; and he leaves no doubt about their being lost souls who mistake the divertissements offered by the world for its reality and get caught in their mistake. By this first impression, the reader's interest will be aroused. He wants to see more of the world through the eyes of an author who could produce this gem...he wants to watch the comedie humaine in which this case study of futile existence, he assumes, can occupy no more than a subordinate place; and above all, he wants to see the author's mind at work on the open existence which seems to form the background to his ironic study of closure. But when the reader, then, proceeds from what he may consider a minor exercise of the author's abilities to other works of his, he will be dismayed by discovering one such study of existential deformity following the other. The world that would put these no-worlds of bungled lives in critical perspective somehow does not open. He will wonder why the author should indulge in this relentless pursuit of deformity... (41-42).

However, Voegelin's suggestions, even if questionable, are undeniably thought provoking. If scholarship is an ongoing conversation, Voegelin's original evaluation of the work's elusiveness and his relating of this evaluation to so much intellectual and artistic history is certainly a valuable contribution to the conversation.

i. Samuels: Another Devaluation of the Novella Resulting From Its Failure to Yield a Coherent Meaning

Charles Thomas Samuels contributes less to the conversation because he does not make the sort of connections to intellectual and artistic history that Voegelin makes. Samuels 's purpose is narrower--he seeks only to evaluate James as a craftsman.

Samuels assumes that a work is to be judged by its success in fulfilling the author's intention. He evaluates the major Jamesian works beginning with the least successful, The Turn of the Screw. Deploring the fact that so few studies of James are primarily evaluative rather than interpretive, Samuels reminds us that such a discussion "has the merit of proving that James's greatness can't be simply taken for granted" (3).

Samuels begins by rejecting non-apparitionist interpretations of the story as inconsistent with occurrences in the plot and James's statements about the story in the Prefaces and in correspondence. He considers, for example, the governess's detailed description of Quint after the second apparition and the wind which extinguishes the candle in Miles's bedroom to be almost irrefragable arguments. Silver's suggestion that the governess has secured information about Quint's appearance from the neighboring villagers is "based on a fact not reported in the text," and Wilson's suggestion "that she is too far gone to know if the wind is blowing ....begs us not to consider facts but to reject them" (12).

Similar textual evidence--as well as James's comments--indicate that he intended the main focus of the story to be the objectively evil specters whom the good governess combats. "The governess represents Jamesian values of innocence, moral commitment, and faith in one's perception" (21). James, Samuels suggests, very much wanted to represent her as a heroine.

Thus, to highlight her natural aristocracy, he contrasts it with the actual aristocracy that is manifestly inferior. For this reason, the Harley Street master is described as a ladies' man unconcerned with duty, and Peter Quint, his valet, is shadowed by the imputation of mysterious rites in an unguarded house full of women. As a result, Bly was quite unsuitable for children, and the governess, to her honor, was attempting to reform things. Enraged by these efforts, the licentious servants, who had already suffered the wages of sin, sought to reverse this process by means literally diabolical. In order to prove that the governess was outstanding, and thus worthy of the stature to which she aspired, James also made her so prodigiously intelligent that no one else could see how matters stood (21).

Her intellectual superiority, however, undercuts James's purpose, for she is deprived of any credible witnesses to support her interpretation that the ghosts are threatening the children. Moreover, other elements in the plot indicate that the governess is motivated by a self-interested desire to impress the employer and, in pursuit of this ambition, uses the children as pawns. Thus we see

"a surprising equation between the heroine and her adversaries" (20). Furthermore, even though James's "intended focus was the specters....the specters are designedly left to the reader's imagination, while the governess is provided, by means of the prologue, with a complicated personal history" (20).

These confusions, according to Samuels, indicate that James was unsuccessful in presenting "the two obsessive questions in his work: how sound are morality and innocence?" In this work James "did not decide whether the governess validates or exposes them," and, thus,

he could not make a good case for the values she represents. Moreover, `The Turn of the Screw' suggests that James also had difficulty presenting what he deplored....James was as unable to castigate evil as he was to affirm virtue. For if the governess may be no better than the specters, the specters may be no worse than she....James was close to the truth when he derided the story as a potboiler (22).

Samuels's approach, of course, is authorial. He derives James's "major concerns" (22) from the totality of the canon and suggests that James was frequently more successful than he was in The Turn of the Screw. "I have tried to illuminate James's novels," he says,

just as I have tried to illuminate the essence of his total achievement.... I think James is America's greatest novelist, and I always intended that my book should help demonstrate why that is so by first acknowledging why it might not have been (9).

B. Criticism Attempting to Determine the Author's Intended Meaning Through Historical-Biographical Research, Including Source Studies

This period produced a number of critical studies which attempted to understand the novella by apprehending the author's meaning through methods such as biographical research to determine what the author did or did not read, what his preoccupations and opinions were as these can be ascertained not only from the totality of his canon but also from other literary and biographical evidence, what specific works meant to the author and his contemporaries, and what literary sources were used and how they were modified in the process of incorporation into the author's work. This type of criticism--like psychoanalytic and phenomenological criticism--sees the text as a message in need of decoding--something like an enigmatic missive or a cryptic diplomatic communication. It differs, however, from phenomenological criticism in its attempt to decipher the text's meaning through discursive reasoning rather than through intuitive empathetic identification with the author's persona and from psychoanalytic criticism in its focus on the conscious, rather than unconscious, elements of the creative process.

a. Sheppard

"I propose," Elizabeth A. Sheppard says,

to examine The Turn of the Screw in its context--the circumstances of its production, the literary tradition in which it was conceived, and the influences that helped to shape it. Within that context the author's expressed intentions and the objective testimony of the text of his story will be my sole guides to interpretation (1).

Sheppard's aim in this book length study is to decipher the author's intended message, with the word "message" broadly conceived to include not only the philosophical "theme," but also the correctly interpreted elements of the plot--i.e., whether the governess was hallucinating from mental illness or seeing "real" ghosts--and the emotional experiences which the author intended to produce in the reader. To divine these intentions Sheppard considers "certain indisputable facts of literary and personal history" and from these theorizes about questions such as what James did or did not read prior to the composition of The Turn of the Screw.

Sheppard asserts that the "scientific" sources of the story were the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, rather than such psychiatric material as Alice James's Journal and Freud and Breuer's Studies in Hysteria--as suggested by Cargill--or Parish's Hallucination and Illusion, as suggested by Cranfill and Clark. In considering whether or not to designate a work a source, Sheppard correctly notes that while "the only universally operative restriction is the mechanical one of priority in time, accessibility is variously conditioned" (262) and that "accessibility . . . is limited by more considerations than date or linguistic medium." For instance, Sheppard maintains,

as far as date or language is concerned, James could have read Breuer's and Freud's Studien uber Hysterie in 1895; but unless William James or Frederic Myers (by letter or in conversation) specifically directed his attention to it, he would never have been aware of the book's existence, nor, probably, of its authors (271).

Sheppard's argument here is not airtight; because of James's very active social life and his interest in his brother's researches and his sister's illness, his interest very easily could have been so directed in conversation.

Sheppard argues also that "after the painful termination of Alice James's illness," James would not likely

feel impelled to satisfy `a continuing interest in his sister's case' by reading scientific treatises on hysteria. Such an interest . . . would argue either a morbidly brooding grief or a coldly impersonal, `scientific' curiosity--tendencies equally foreign to his temperament and incompatible with the known facts of his busy and sociable life (271).

A similar argument occurs a few pages later:

Cranfill and Clark, like Cargill earlier, seem not to appreciate what Henry James's reading of such works as Parish's would imply--a preoccupation with highly specialized psychological problems in their laboratory aspects, and an interest in following explanatory clues through years, and tomes, of controversy; but of such an absorbing interest there is no trace in James's works, in his letters, or in his `legend,' and, to be plain, there was no intellectual basis (of native scientific ability or acquired knowledge) on which such an interest could be sustained (273).

Unwittingly, however, a few lines later in the same paragraph, Sheppard partially refutes her own argument. "An `intelligent interest' in `questions of the day,'" she admits, "as discussed among friends or as argued in newspapers and literary periodicals, might furnish for easy speculation on the phenomena of mediumship, say, or hypnotism" (273). These discussions "among friends" could have provided James with quite a bit of knowledge, albeit in simplified form, of authors such as Parish and Freud and Breuer. To engage in such conversations after his sister's death, moreover, would make James neither a "morbidly brooding" ghoul nor a "coldly impersonal" monster. Furthermore, the similarities between the governess's experiences and those of Miss Lucy as delineated by Cargill and the psychopathological patterns discussed by Parish do not, to me, seem so easy to dismiss.

James would be much more likely, Sheppard contends, to consult the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research--as well as the works such as Phantasms of the Living, published by the Society in 1886--

which are neither literature, philosophy, nor science, but an olio of all three. . . . Since, whatever his practical aim of the moment, Henry James remained the creative artist, it might happen that as well as the typical, authentic detail (the staircase haunting, the phantasm seen only in part, and so on) he gathered some overtone of suggestion, some `touch of picture' which would be applied in his own work (274-275).

Sheppard is convinced that James's

curiosity would be roused by that dauntingly massive work Phantasms of the Living, which his scientist-philosopher brother thought might be `the beginning of a new department of natural history' and which the merest sampling would reveal . . . as `the best book of ghost stories in the English language' (125).


in October of 1890 James had obligingly lent his presence and made a sacrifice of his time for the benefit of the Society for Psychical Research; and in courteous acknowledgment of this service, no less than as a token of friendship, he would early in 1891 receive a copy of the Society's Proceedings for 1889-90, Volume VI in the series. Further, in 1893 he would most probably receive a copy of Volume VIII, for this contained a sequel to the reports with which, as William's deputy, he had been briefly concerned. And again (although in this case there was no motivation of personal or family involvement) in 1894 or later curiosity might very well lead him to explore Volume X, some four hundred pages of which were devoted to the Society's much-trumpeted, long-awaited report on its `census of hallucinations.' There are a number of indications, which . . . fall just short of proof, that James did in fact consult this volume; but concerning Volumes VI and VIII there can be no dispute. These two volumes he certainly read, in part at least, just as (before September 1897 if not earlier) he read portions of Phantasms of the Living: his own works supply that proof (126).

In support of the latter point,, Sheppard approvingly cites Roellinger's study (discussed in chapter four of this dissertation). Sheppard is careful to admit that James's use of these volumes

would be no more than desultory. As a mere artistic amateur of the supernatural, quite without scientific leanings, he would rarely feel the need to supplement the information to be gained as a matter of course in general conversation or from casual reading. No one, free from academic obligation, would willingly `keep up with' the reports of a society to whose `whole business' he felt alien--least, of all, surely, the author of `The Great Good Place' (1276).

However, Sheppard finds it quite reasonable to assume that, as a narrative artist, James would peruse the many narrative case histories "stuck like plums in a mass of experimental detail, statistical analyses, and wordy theorizing" (126). Sheppard details six incidents from Society material--four from Phantasms of the Living, one from Volume VI of the Proceedings, one from Volume VIII--which parallel events in the governess's narrative and "several near parallels to Griffin's ghost story" which are "recorded in Phantasms of the Living and in the SPR Proceedings" (164-171).

James's interest in such matters, moreover, would have been rekindled, Sheppard suggests, by the controversy over the Ballechin haunting, which in the summer of 1897 was "supplied by his morning newspaper . . . almost daily for the best part of a month" (202). Furthermore, Volume X of the Proceedings, published in 1894, "dealt concisely but comprehensively with the subject of hallucinations as a whole" and thus

constituted not merely a supplement, but also a synoptic guide to the much more copious but less systematically ordered material in Phantasms of the Living. And for Henry James this seems to have been an important consideration. Phantasms of the Living had been published five years before he resumed his composition of `ghostly tales' in 1891; but although he may have looked into it earlier, it is not a source for any of his fiction before The Turn of the Screw. And the same is true of PSPR Volume VIII. In The Turn of the Screw, however, we find detail after detail traceable to Phantasms of the Living and to PSPR Volume VIII; PSPR Volume VI is put to more varied and more significant use than in 1891-92; and there are indications that the apparitional scheme has been checked against the Census Report (184).

Furthermore, Sheppard points out, some of the material which Cranfill and Clark trace to the influence of Parish can plausibly be related to Society publications. For example, Cranfill and Clark correctly note, says Sheppard, the governess's sleeplessness after she sees Quint on the stairs in early morning, but they fail to appreciate the significance of the fact that she sees no visions during this period. This is to be expected in light of testimony such as that of the Ballechin case medium Miss X (Mlle. Marchand), who asserted that she could only see ghosts when well rested and calm. In other words, when the governess repeatedly stayed up all night,

her psychic powers diminished: she no longer saw what her anxiety assured her she ought to have seen. Psychical investigators would regard her conduct as impeding the flow of evidence, rather than as prejudicing the veridicality of her phantasms (153).

Similarly, Cranfill and Clark's assumption that "`the hypnogenic tendency of prolonged reading'" afflicted the governess must be complemented by a consideration of the possibility "that concentration on the printed page had resulted in a state of abstraction similar to the crystal-gazer's, and equally productive of hallucinations not necessarily `falsidical'" (153). Sheppard provides an original and novel explanation of James's disavowals of "the mere modern psychical case" in the Preface to Volume 12 of the New York Edition, terming such disclaimers as "editorial smoke screen" (161) and "precautionary devices similar to the formula prefixed to many novels: `All the characters and situations are imaginary, and no reference is intended to any living person'" (163). At the time these Prefaces were composed, Sheppard reminds us,

both Sidgwick and Myers were now dead; and perhaps more disturbingly, their associate Podmore, whose skepticism had been so reassuring, was now under a cloud, which his mysterious death in 1910 did nothing to dissipate. Moreover the bona fides of the psychical pioneers was now being seriously questioned: statements published in the Westminster Gazette from November 1907 to January 1908 had alleged fraud in the thought-transference experiments conducted under their supervision, and in the following December and January (1908-1909) the weekly John Bull substantiated these allegations by publishing the confession of one of the tricksters. This was no time to advertise one's reliance on phantasms so sponsored (164).

One of Sheppard's most valuable contributions to the debate between apparitionists and non-apparitionists is her convincing refutation of the suggestion--first made by Edel in The Ghostly Tales of Henry James and The Psychological Novel: 1900-1950 and later echoed by critics such as Cranfill and Clark and Kimbrough--that "the revisions . . . made for the New York edition" reflect "the determination to alter the nature of the governess' testimony from that of a report of things observed, perceived, recalled, to things felt" (qtd. in Sheppard 252).

Sheppard accuses such critics of constructing "a chain of error" by "comparison of selected passages only, and a `spot check' of selected words." By contrast, she asserts,

it is necessary to make a complete line by line collation of the two texts. Having done so, I state categorically that, with a single exception, James's revisions in The Turn of the Screw not only were stylistic, and merely stylistic, in intention but also, as regards character and incident, effect no change whatever in the impression conveyed to the reader. The single exception occurs in ch. xiii: `the eccentric nature of my father' becomes `the whimsical bent of my father', as if to guard against any possible suspicion of inherited madness in the governess. That any author should spend months over an improvement (as he considered it) in the mere wording of his novels and stories, is a procedure incomprehensible, it seems, to critics of the present day: in their eyes it requires the justification of an ulterior purpose. But to James (the French-trained, nineteenth-century artist) style was a matter of supreme importance, worth the utmost expense of time and ingenuity (254).

Sheppard supports her point with an impressive--in my opinion, unanswerable--array of examples:

. . . let us test by the facts the generalizations of Professor Edel and others regarding verbal alterations in The Turn of the Screw. `Perceived' is indeed altered to `felt' in chs. 1 and xxi, but to `noticed' in ch. x and to `recognized' in ch. xxii; and it is retained unaltered in ch. ix. `I now reflect' (long after the episode, not `recollect') is altered to `I now feel' in ch. xiii, but `I recollect' in ch. 1 remains unaltered. `It appeared to me' is altered to `it struck me' in ch. xiv; but `appeared' (i.e., `seemed') is retained in chs. iv, xiii, and xxii. In ch. 1 `the little girl who accompanied Mrs. Grose (not `Mrs. Grose') appeared to me' in 1898 and `affected me' in 1908' bit in ch. vii Mrs. Grose still `appeared to assent to this' and in ch. xxi `appeared . . . more reluctant', while Miles in ch. xxiv `appeared now to be thinking' in 1908 as in 1898. On one occasion `see' becomes `know' (ch. xx) and on another `saw' becomes `knew' (ch. ix); but there are no instances of `I saw' or `I believed' becoming `I felt', thought `I became sure' is altered to `I felt sure' in ch. xix. On one occasion `felt' becomes `conceived' (ch. x); on another `I found myself' becomes `I knew myself' (ch. ix). `It struck me' occurs fewer than a dozen times in the course of the story' but both `I saw' (30 odd examples) and `I felt' (40 odd examples) are very frequently used; and James's revision of the text makes virtually no change in these proportions (255).

Sheppard buttresses her argument that the ghosts are not mere hallucinations by pointing to James's childhood Swedenborgian background, the influence of Hawthorne reflected in his critical writings, notebooks, and correspondence, and the other ghostly tales in his canon. She also cites numerous statements James made about the story and interprets these as evidence against Freudian non-apparitionist readings. She denies, for example, that James's designation of the tale as "an amusette to catch those not easily caught" means "that James intends to hoax the reader," as Edna Kenton suggested. Instead, the word amusette indicates a sophisticated rather than conventional ghost story, one "which depends for its effect on the communication of unease, a horror which will remain mysterious and inexplicable to the reader, all the more so as it is conveyed in a precise and deliberately artistic narrative." Similarly, "catching" suggests not "deception," but

merely `attraction', `captivation': he wants to `catch' their interest and attention. The use of `catch' here recalls James's use of a favourable adjective, `attaching'. `A very attaching young man' he may say, where we should say `very attractive' (15).

Sheppard thus attempts to determine James's intention in employing a particular expression by considering the author's customary use of language. She takes a similar approach in analyzing James's statement that "we have as much of her (the governess's) own nature as we can swallow . . .":

That word `swallow' is the trouble here. James was fond of colloquialisms, which he sometimes slightly misapplied, in what began as a stroke of conscious wit and ended as an unconscious mannerism. It produces many anecdotes: for example, James gives sixpence to a yokel of whom he has asked the way, and says, `There, my man, put that in your pipe and smoke it.' But here, to say `as much as we can swallow' suggests that James himself finds something repellent,, even nauseating, in the nature of the governess as he has exhibited her. Yet the very next sentence makes it clear that there is no depreciatory intention whatever. James goes on: `It constitutes no little of a character indeed, in such conditions, for a young person, as she says, "privately bred," that she is able to make her particular credible statement of such strange matters. She has "authority," which is a good deal to have given her, and I couldn't have arrived at so much had I clumsily tried for more.' You will hardly believe that any critic could interpret `authority' in this context, not as `standing with' or `impressiveness for' the reader, but as `dominance over' Mrs. Grose and the children, yet it has been done (16).

Sheppard also considers the narrative "frame"--in particular, Douglas's good recommendation of the governess--as a clue to his intention. This is consistent, Sheppard says, with the Notebook entries which indicate an intention to write a story primarily about the haunted children, not about their troubled governess (16-17). These points, however, seem to me not entirely consistent with the Hawthornean "moral" which Sheppard herself has derived from the story.

Sheppard also, of course, reiterates the often cited evidence from the text: Miles' dismissal from school, Flora's bad language, the identification scene in chapter five, etc. Again and again, of course, the same incidents from the plot have been cited by different critics to support conflicting--often diametrically opposite--interpretations. I will not here rehash these by now tiresome controversies except to call attention to two arguments of Sheppard which seem particularly weak. In the first place, Sheppard contends that the governess cannot be a victim of repressed sexuality since she freely admits her love for the employer to Douglas and reiterates the point throughout her narrative. The obvious rejoinder is Spilka's observation that Victorians tended to equate love with non-sexual affection which could be freely admitted even while its libidinous component was repressed. Secondly, Sheppard suggests that the first vision of Quint cannot arise from repressed sexuality because, while daydreaming about the employer, the governess sees a different man, not the object of her reveries. The obvious refutation to this is Thomas's reminder that the unconscious often distorts love objects into bizarre, almost unrecognizable images.

Although Sheppard rejects the Wilsonian arguments that the ghosts are falsidical hallucinations, she does recognize an undercurrent of ambiguity pervading the story. This is traceable at least partly, she contends, to the influence of two rival schools of thought within the Society for Psychical Research. One group, led by Myers, interpreted ghostly apparitions as

`persistent personal energy'--indications `that some kind of force is being exercised . . .' after death; . . . `in some at least' of these cases `there has been a real agency of deceased persons.' The phenomena are produced telepathically through the medium of `a sub-conscious or submerged stratum in both agency and percipient', that is, in both the disembodied and the embodied personality (174).

According to this interpretation,

we must (with Myers's blessing) be prepared to accept both the theory of latency--since Quint and Miss Jessel had died months before--and the possibility that the governess...was `intercepting' visual communications, which did not reach Miles and Flora, the intended percipients. We may, of course, brutalize our version by assuming that the children were lying--in which case no 'interception' need be postulated (208).

This is very close to Lydenberg's interpretation.

On the other hand, however, another faction, led by Podmore, held that "thought-transference, or telepathy, between living persons remained the only plausible explanation for all phantasms not merely subjective in origin" (174). Thus, if a percipient could accurately describe a deceased person, whose characteristics the percipient had no normal way of knowing, as the governess accurately describes Quint, Podmore would assume that the percipient was telepathically receiving an image of the deceased person from the mind of a living person who had been acquainted with the deceased. According to this interpretation, the governess,

because of the growth of her love and concern for the children...suddenly...becomes aware of what is obsessing their minds: the memories of whatever illicit satisfactions Quint and Jessel have taught them to need, and the images of those fascinating purveyors of evil who have been lost to them. Her unconscious clairvoyant faculty shapes these impressions into visual images before her conscious mind has begun to take account of them (209).

This interpretation is very close to the readings of Aldrich and Rees, among others.

Some case histories reported by the Society appear equally explainable according to either hypothesis, but some seem more strongly to support either one hypothesis or the other. Thus,

each of these conflicting interpretations is based on the same narrative evidence. The evidence being imperfect, no decision on such phantasms is possible--judgment must remain in suspense....It is this double reading of narratives accepted as veridical which, as it were, authorizes James's ambiguous treatment of the supernatural in The Turn of the Screw (178).

Sheppard--unnecessarily, I think--makes a choice between these two interpretations. Although admitting that "in his development of the story {James} carefully holds the balance even," Sheppard argues that Podmore's interpretation

seems preferable, if only because it automatically saves everyone's credit: it rescues the author from the imputation either of naive superstition or fraudulent dealing with his reader, and it warrants the governess both sane and benevolent (208).

Here Sheppard seems to be confessing her own prejudices. I fail to see why an explanation involving discarnate spirits or surviving psychic energy is ipso facto any more "superstitious" or "fraudulent" than one involving "telepathic communication between living persons." I also fail to see why an interpretation which "automatically saves everyone's credit," including that of the governess, is necessarily preferable to one which does not. Are we to interpret Macbeth and Othello in such a way that no villains appear, only heroes and victims of misfortune? Furthermore, why would the governess be any less "sane and benevolent" if she saw apparitions of discarnate entities, assuming the appearances were "veridical" rather than "falsidical"?

Moreover, the governess--according to Sheppard's interpretation--is not all that "sane and benevolent":

Bred up as she has been, inexperienced as she is, she knows intuitively that the children are endangered by the apparitions, but her rationalizing intelligence misinterprets these as evil spirits returned to entice the children into danger, not as emanations from the children's own minds. Consequently she misinterprets her own role: `I was a screen--I was to stand before them. The more I saw, the less they would'....Her duty she thinks, with a desperate innocence, is to interpose herself physically between the children and--ghosts....the more vigilant she becomes, the more anxious, the more tense, the more excited--the more she allows the children to perceive that she is aware of their past evil associations (for these, it is to be remembered, have never been in doubt) and their present evil bent of mind and habits (whatever these may amount to), the less her love is free to help and release them. She is no longer the spontaneously affectionate, happy, normal young girl they have, with a return of affection, accepted. Her love now becomes an extra burden for these small, precociously excited, and in the case of the boy at least, outlawed creatures. And when in the final, climactic scenes (with Flora, by the lake and with Miles, at the window) she is impelled to declare the presence of a `ghost', when, that is, to the children's ears she jabbers of `seeing' things that aren't there, she reveals herself as their enemy--to the girl a hatefully, insupportably censorious accuser...,to the boy a torturing `devil'....In fact, she kills Miles on the spot, with mingled excitement, fright, rage, and despair, because she convinces him that Peter Quint is actually present--that she can see Peter Quint whom he needs, if not loves, and that he cannot (209-210).

Elsewhere in her study, Sheppard asserts--in agreement with Briggs--that Miles not only dies but is damned because of the governess's incorrectly performed exorcism.

This time the governess misjudges: instead of again imposing her will on the boy to confess and free himself, she proves to him that he has lost his familiar--that is, he is left with his burden of guilt (whatever it may be) but without his demonic support. She has spoilt the exorcism, performed the ritual in the wrong order (to use one traditional way of describing the procedure), or, in Swedenborgian terms, she has acted in ignorance of the fact that man's life is `the life of his love', and the victim dies of shock as a result. And, again, in Swedenborgian terms, the irony of that would be that the governess has not only killed the boy, but destroyed his soul as well, for 'no one's life can by any means be changed after death' (24-25).

This interpretation is, of course, consistent with a central reality of James's biography: the overwhelming influence of Swedenborgian theology throughout his childhood.

Furthermore, the philosophical themes which Sheppard derives from this interpretation of the plot--and which she correctly considers to be consistent with the dominant philosophy of the Jamesian canon and with the moral philosophy of Hawthorne, with which James was in express agreement (Sheppard notes in particular such works as "Rappaccini's Daughter," "The Birthmark," and "Young Goodman Brown")--is perfectly compatible with an inappropriate reaction to the manifestations of discarnate entities attempting, successfully or not, to communicate with the children. "The Turn of the Screw on this interpretation is, in effect, a `moral mystery,' "says Sheppard,

an undidactic fable of the conflict of appearances and the underlying reality, of the difficulty of understanding other people even when, as here, the contents of their minds are paraded visibly before one--a somewhat dubious privilege, luckily vouchsafed to few....`Acting' almost always dangerous when it is directed to interfere with another's mind and character. And the evangelizing attitude of mind which determines that souls must be saved, characters straightened, minds purified `at any cost', is already poised for destruction, not redemption: Whatever young Miles had done, it surely did not merit death (210).

Some sociologically oriented critics--for example, Cole, Rees, and Nardin--have seen Quint and Jessel, with their hopeless love, as innocent victims of an unjust Victorian caste system. The governess could be correct in opining that the specters are the souls of the two deceased servants, but wrong in her evaluation of their moral stature. This interpretation would be consistent with the following "moral" divined by Sheppard:

Virtue is relative, not absolute; the better is the enemy of the good; don't try forcibly to eradicate the darling vice which may be someone's root of life; don't strip anyone of the cloak of respect we all need to tolerate one another (210-211).

In addition to attempting to clarify the ambiguities of the plot and ascertain James's intended philosophical themes, Sheppard has sought to determine what emotional experiences the author intended to convey to the reader and the means whereby he intended to engender these effects. In so doing Sheppard delineates the influence of many sources--literary and historical--for The Turn of the Screw.

Sheppard contends that the "horror" of the story is conveyed by "incongruity, carried through particular after particular" from the "ordinariness" and "cheerfulness" of Bly to the apparent beauty and innocence of the children.

We are presented with a benevolent guardian--who disowns all but a monetary responsibility for his charges; trusted servants--who corrupt their little master and mistress; a perfectly beautiful and charming little girl--who can look like an old woman and rail like a fishwife; a perfectly beautiful and charming little boy--who has `covered and concealed' as the governess puts it, otherwise, in Victorian slang, `played gooseberry in', a sordid intrigue, and is an undesirable influence at his school; a devoted governess--whose care results in the death of one of her pupils. At Bly, nothing is, but all things seem (25-26).

In a manner reminiscent of Grabo (discussed in the second chapter of this book) and Costello (discussed in the fifth chapter of this study), Sheppard suggests that suspense is maintained through a wave-like pattern of thirteen stages in which

the governess first adumbrates, then presents, then interprets some disturbing incident (and Mrs. Grose's revelations, Miles's rebellion, the children's complicity are motivating `shocks' as powerful as the presumed `ghostly' visitations). And in every instance, except for the last catastrophic scene, she summons her resources to `cope' with the trouble, only to be overtaken by a new development before her plan can be put into effect. There is thus a continuing, wave-like, sequent toil towards the denouement. The only qualification I would add is that James's elaborate variation of rhythm and tempo ensures that this basic pattern never becomes monotonously obvious. Current action and dialogue alternate with retrospective narration and reflection (33).

Sheppard traces this "dramatic" narrative method not only to James's abortive dramatic career, but also to the

influence of Ibsen, the evidence of which is found throughout James's Notebooks and correspondence.

Sheppard also cites numerous sources to delineate the "accumulation of reference" (31) which enriches the story. Peter Quint's name, of course, is reminiscent of the name of the stage-manager of A Midsummer Night's Dream--and Quint's entertainments of Miles "rather horribly parallel" (277) his prototype's activities. The physical description of Quint, Sheppard demonstrates, parallels the physical description of George Bernard Shaw, whose reputation as "a dangerously subversive political agitator, who in private life was an equally dangerous seducer of women" (65) would not be lost on a Victorian readership. The case for this association is strengthened by the intense dislike James and Shaw harbored for one another, which Sheppard documents thoroughly. Quint's hatlessness and inappropriate dress--"somebody else's clothes"--are reminiscent of Shaw's carelessness about such matters, a carelessness which irritated James.

For to James conformity in dress, as in other usages of polite society, was necessary and important....His careful elegance on all appropriate, and some inappropriate, occasions, is part of the James legend. Far from rejoicing, as an author, in his emancipation, he wore the livery of the morning suit even at Rye, even in the privacy of his study (64).

Shaw, moreover, had a penchant for dark-haired women, the most famous of whom was Annie Besant, whom James also disliked and whose political radicalism and unconventional religious views had endowed her with a "notoriety...already so black as to be impervious to further stain." Sheppard reminds us that

James abominated female demagogues, platform advocates of `causes', from women's rights to eccentric cults; and Mrs. Besant, aided by great beauty, a magnificent contralto voice, and inexhaustible zeal for whatever cause had temporarily won her devotion, was the most renowned woman orator of her day (68).

These associations would make more credible Miles's expulsion from school for "saying things."

Once...Quint and Jessel are envisaged as fellow conspirators, godless revolutionaries who acknowledge neither divine nor human law, the threat to the children is at once extended and intellectualized: it becomes a matter of indoctrination rather than initiation into evil practices. The `things said' will not then be mere puerile obscenities, but mockery and denials of authority, of social obligations, of moral and religious sanctions, programmes for disruption and violence--a precocity in error much more alarming than any `normal' childish wickedness. Miles as boy atheist and anarchist, Flora as infantile `new woman' would be phenomena as shocking to Victorian teachers and guardians as their presumed commerce with the dead is to the governess (100).

Moreover, the name Jessel would be not without significance. "Jessel is a Jewish name, and as such it perhaps fits the dark, mysterious beauty of James's story. Perhaps, too, it recalls Shakespeare's Jessica..." (28). Jessel, furthermore, was the name of the judge who presided over the case involving custody of Annie Besant's two children.

And the very murmur of `Besant' and `Theosophy' would, for such readers, immediately thicken the occult suggestions of James's story: to their view, not merely unquiet dead of the Anglican persuasion, nor Swedenborgian spirits of Hell, but Elementaries from Kamaloka might confront the governess (29).

"The symbolism" of Mrs. Grose's name "is obvious enough" (27), says Sheppard. Miles and Flora represent the perfect male and female, as suggested by their names' Latin meanings. The namelessness of the governess

adds an authentic touch of Victorian propriety: it mimics the anonymity which strict etiquette required of any `lady' who ventured into print. The pseudonymous lady novelists of the period are tacitly rebuked by the hundreds of their sisters who instruct or entertain with no warrant save their gentility (29-30).

The governess, Sheppard convincingly argues, is largely modeled after Jane Eyre. To support this contention Sheppard cites numerous similarities between the plots of the two novels--in a manner reminiscent of Cole's collation in the Appendix of his dissertation. Such material, Sheppard maintains, provided a model of an English governess which James badly needed.

In spite of James's own childhood experience of a succession of French governesses, one can assume that he had very little first-hand knowledge of how English governesses might be expected to behave, or how an English nursery or schoolroom would be conducted in the nineties. But here, in Jane Eyre, were a governess and her setting ready-made for him; very little adaptation was required (50).

Harley Street--here Sheppard provides an interesting historical tidbit--was not "physicians' row" during Bronte's time, but an exclusive residential area suitable for a wealthy individual such as the children's uncle. Correspondences between the governess and Jane Eyre are intended, at least partly to establish the normality of the governess, according to Sheppard.

The correspondences between the plots, furthermore, are complemented by historical and biographical evidence suggesting that Bronte's novel was a source. In 1895 Frederic Harrison, whom James admired and whose publications James read (this latter fact is documented by numerous references in James's correspondence), published Studies in Victorian Literature in which

he devoted much of his space to demonstrating that she {Bronte} was precisely the kind of author Henry James was not--that she wrote exclusively out of her own narrow experience of life and the world (44).

Harrison maintained that Bronte had turned this "limitation" into material for a masterpiece by telling her story through the eyes of a governess of similarly limited perception and thus creating an unforgettable character. It seems reasonable to assume, Sheppard suggests, that James read this critical study and set a similar challenge for himself. Part of the story's ambiguity, however, is occasioned by a tension between the above source and "another source for the governess" (104)--namely, Mlle. Henriette Deluzy, with whom James was socially acquainted. She had been instituture in the home of the Duc de Praslin at the time of his wife's murder. Accused of complicity in the crime but acquitted, she "had emigrated to the United States" and

married a scion of one of New England's most respected families--Henry Martyn Field, almost ten years her junior...Mrs. Henry Martyn Field...became a leading figure in the intellectual and artistic circles of New York, so that her death in March 1875 was mourned as a distinct loss to the community (104).

This woman served as a source for Miriam in The Marble Faun, Sheppard suggests.

Mlle. Henriette Deluzy, like the governess, harbored an unrequited infatuation for her employer and an extreme affection for his children. Later, having emigrated to the United States and married, she wrote of her new environment in somewhat the same way the governess wrote of "the enlargement of prospect" (107) represented by Bly.

This woman, however, is not the main source, according to Sheppard. "To all fictional intents and purposes the governess is Jane Eyre (even if Mlle. Deluzy's green eyes may at times be peeping over her shoulder...)" (144).

Sheppard's book-length study is an outstanding example of criticism which seeks to ascertain the author's intentions and methods of construction through historical and biographical research. In her well documented study Sheppard draws on a vast accumulation of Jamesian scholarship to argue, for the most part convincingly, what materials are likely sources and the significance of their inclusion. In so doing she has constructed a plausible interpretation of the plot and suggested philosophical themes consistent with the internal evidence of the novella, the totality of the Jamesian canon, and other biographical evidence. Her study, however, is not without its weaknesses. She too easily dismisses Freudian arguments, and, given James's active and varied social life, her assumptions that psychiatric works which he might not read in detail could not be sources are not convincing. She unnecessarily makes a choice between the theories of Myers and Podmore. Finally, her interpretation does insufficient justice to the sociological dimensions of the story--particularly the class conflicts in which the governess and the other characters are necessarily involved.

b. Lind

Sidney E. Lind, like Sheppard, attempts to apprehend James's intentions through informed speculation based upon analysis of the text itself, the context of the Jamesian canon, James's statements about the novella, and historical-biographical data concerning what James was likely to have been reading and what materials should be considered likely sources of the novella. Lind's study, of course, being an article rather than a book, is on a much smaller scale than Sheppard's work.

Lind comes to conclusions very different from those of Sheppard. "`The Turn of the Screw,'" he says,

is not a ghost story; it is a psychological study. The central point of reference is the governess, and the events she relates are significant only as they refer to her personality. The children are innocent and the ghosts exist only in her mind... (229).

James's enterprise was successful. Rejecting the traditional ghost story, he wrote what is nothing more than an elaborated psychological shocker which has for decades attracted readers as a ghost story. Forcing the reader to view normal events through the warped vision of the governess, he created a masterpiece of obfuscation (239).

Taking seriously James's designation of the novella as a "pot-boiler," Lind denies that any deep philosophical, theological, or psychological themes inhere in the work. "All moral and ethical judgments," Lind says,

all the questions of `evil' and `salvation' must be referred to the governess. But the laws of society are predicated upon rationality; we do not hold the irrational individual accountable for his deeds, nor do we pass moral judgment upon the process and fruits of his acts except coincidentally. Any discussion involving the symbols of morality or evil arising from doctrines of ethics or salvation not only perverts the universal understanding of these doctrines but is also critically irrelevant to the artistic plausibility of the story. The `evil' is merely social in the broadest sense, and its cure, one presumes, lies in the certification of the emotional stability of governesses (229).

Needless to say, Lind is on very shaky ground here. Certainly sin and some forms of psychopathology are very closely related as Patrick McCormick, for example, has argued in his recent book, Sin as Addiction. Similarly, William Barrett has called attention to "the sheer willfulness of his attitude" which we encounter in a neurotic when we deal with him "on a human level" (170). Critics such as Spilka and Nardin demonstrate convincingly how neurosis is often related to what we might call "collective sin"--i.e., unjust social structures.

Critics have been misled by the good recommendation Douglas gives the governess, Lind maintains, and have forgotten

that James deliberately disarranged the chronological elements to make more difficult the reader's perception of the character of the governess...although...[Douglas's] encomiums are sincere and true for him...they have no bearing upon the events related in the governess's manuscript. He knew her only 'long after' the events at Bly....The critical problem is therefore to see the governess as she was in the earlier time, at Bly (228).

Lind approaches this "critical problem" by a close analysis of the text, adducing non-apparitionist arguments which have been repeated many times and which we need not, again, discuss in detail--for example, the governess's nervousness and sleeplessness and the pattern whereby she

becomes progressively unstrung, confusing fact with fancy, rationalizing her irrational assumptions, fabricating whole conversations with the apparitions, and finding always triumphant justification for her actions (228).

This information is scattered throughout the story, Lind suggests, so that the work would be short enough to be salable--a major concern of James. Citing James's statement in the Preface that he was "`fighting...periodically for every grudged inch of'" in characterizing the governess, Lind opines that

the semi-private use of the word `periodically' is also revealing. It refers to periodical (magazine), not to time; in other words, to the space limitation of Collier's. In order to satisfy the editor he was forced to resort to truncation, and it was in the characterization of the governess that he effected the greatest economy. Hence the dispersal of information about her throughout the narrative (239).

Although designating the novella "an 1897 case study of hysteria," Lind agrees with Sheppard in denying the influence of sources such as Freud and Breuer's Studien uber Hysterie:

Those critics who regard the story as a Freudian document or who call James a Freudian commit a critical absurdity of the first magnitude....There is...not a scrap of trustworthy evidence to support the expedient notion that James knew of Freud when he wrote `The Turn of the Screw'; in 1897 Freud had no reputation outside professional circles, and not much within. The sources of James' knowledge of psychology lies elsewhere (230).

Two likely "sources," according to Lind, are

two reference works which contained information already standardized and approved. The Illustrated Encyclopedia Medical Dictionary (1891) gives the opening statement of the definition of hysteria as `a functional affection of the nervous system, which is limited to women, and more frequently to young unmarried women, who have no settled occupation in life.' In Hysteria and Certain Allied Conditions (1897), George Preston, an outstanding medical authority, defines the `Mental Condition in Hysteria': `Most of the events in the everyday life of these individuals take upon themselves a sentimental cast, and questions of the most matter-of-fact nature are invested with a halo of romance....One ever-present trait, serving as a mainspring for many of their actions, is an overweening egotism and a morbid desire for notoriety (234).

It is easy to see how the governess's character can be interpreted in a manner conformable to the above descriptions.

Lind has constructed a source study similar to the work of Cranfill and Clark--but he refuses to designate it as Freudian or psychoanalytic. The psychology found in The Turn of the Screw, he contends, is "late nineteenth century psychology...the culmination of the past; psychoanalysis and psychiatry represent the divergence into modernity" (233). Accordingly, while Lind acknowledges the influence of the paranormal material published by the Society for Psychical Research which Sheppard emphasizes, he does not consider these influences to be arguments against his interpretation. Charcot and his contemporaries, says Lind,

worked in an experimental atmosphere still heavily clouded by earlier thinking. Overlapping of definitions of hypnosis, clairvoyance, `possession,' hallucinations, spiritualism, thought-transference, and psychic phenomena in general was not only permitted but encouraged by many psychologists (233).

Finally, Lind considers the context of the Jamesian canon immediately prior to and following The Turn, noting the narrative "frames" and unreliable narrators in such stories as "The Friends of the Friends" and the plethora of destructive female figures such as Rose Armiger of The Other House and the narrator of In the Cage. These are points similar to those made at much greater length by Thomas (discussed in the preceding chapter of this book).

Lind's study provides a needed corrective to some of the questionable hypotheses of Sheppard--particularly Sheppard's too easy dismissal of psychopathological elements in the story. However, Lind's downplaying of the story's philosophical and theological content is both unnecessary and unfortunate.

c. Timms: More Consideration of James's Intentions While Revising

David Timms expanded on Sheppard's discussion of the significance of the differences between the original 1898 version and the revision for the New York Edition--taking dead aim at Edel, Kimbrough, and Cranfill and Clark for their attempts to "use James's revisions for the New York Edition of The Turn of the Screw as important evidence for determining his intentions" (194). Timms expands on Sheppard's discussion by providing additional examples to demonstrate that the pattern suggested by these critics exists only when the text is read selectively by a critic with preconceived notions. Having made these points, however, Timms adds some novel and interesting observations of his own.

He points out, for example, that Edel, Kimbrough, and Cranfill and Clark frequently "build a case on a word or words used by James, taken out of context." For instance, the change from "perceived" to "felt" sometimes occurs in the context of an apprehension of abstract qualities--i.e., when the governess "feels" rather than "perceives" that Mrs. Grose is "on guard against showing" her true feelings or "feels" rather than "perceives" that the housekeeper "had been beating around the bush." Similarly, "Mrs. Grose appeared to me" to be "charming" is changed to "Mrs. Grose affected me..." Timms rightly points out that the author does not

mean in this unrevised version that the governess was able to see what was charming about Mrs. Grose in the same way as she might have been able to see that her hair was red, for instance, or that she wore no hat. The governess is using the word in the sense of `affected me' in the early version as in the late. Even read out of context, the same clearly applies to `it appeared to me' and `it struck me' (199).

Similarly, in such cases,

what the governess `feels' cannot be called an untrustworthy substitute for what someone else might `see'. Since she is referring to an abstract quality, she must induce what she `feels' from what she can observe in the light of her experience. Even if the evidence of Mrs. Grose's reluctance were that she turned and fled, an observer could only `see' her disappearing form; he would then have to interpret her actions, when he might `feel' that she had something to hide (199).

Timms makes a related point about Cranfill and Clark's use of the term "felt trouble" in the Preface to the New York Edition version of the story. "If it is dangerous to make a case out of words removed from their local context, it is equally dangerous to consider them in isolation from James's late style in general" (199). In this context Timms approvingly quotes David Lodge's study of

how the word `wonderful', as used in The Ambassadors, comes to take on in the course of the novel all sorts of connotations that it does not have when it is first used. We certainly could not define James's sense or senses of `wonderful' from the OED: we must refer to the novel. This is also true of his verbs of perception: we must refer to James's work in general (199-200).

Such an examination, Timms maintains, disconfirms the assumption that verbs such as "feels," "fancies," and "senses" should "be taken as synonyms which indicate the reverse of objective, `provable' perception" (200). Citing Chatman's study, The Later Style of Henry James, Timms argues that

`saw', `perceived', or cognate verbs no more apply exclusively to simple acts of sensing than does `feel' to unsubstantial acts of fancying....what a Jamesian character `sees' or `perceives' will involve interpretation as well as sense impressions; what he `feels' will imply sense impressions as well as intuitions (200).

Consequently, Timms suggests, when Cranfill and Clark cite the expression "felt trouble" in the Preface, "they wrongly take the word to have been used in the way in which they assume it to have been used in James's revisions of the tale" (200). When this expression is viewed in the context of James's Preface to The Altar of the Dead and other Tales , says Timms,

it is plain that what James is talking about in referring to `felt trouble' is not a way of sensing, but a technique of presenting sensations effectively; he shows how trouble is `felt' rather than the cause of the trouble directly. And it is only in this sense that we can agree with Leon Edel, that the tale is `a record of feeling' (200).

Similarly, we must consider the entire Jamesian canon, Timms maintains, in evaluating the significance of the deletion of so many commas from the version published in the New York edition. Disputing Kimbrough's assumption "that the deletion of commas indicates James's wish to come closer to `approximating the stream of [the governess's] consciousness,'" Timms--with a representative list of examples--demonstrates that "the lack of commas" is "a feature of [James's] reworked style rather than...a characteristic of a particular novel or story" (195).

Furthermore, in the course of his discussion of the above statement of Kimbrough, Timms argues tellingly against considering the novella a "stream of consciousness" narrative--pointing out that the governess's narrative is written many years after the events in question and, consequently, is "a considered document as opposed to a spontaneous outpouring" (197) such as "Molly Bloom's soliloquy at the end of Ulysses" (196). Timms calls our attention to the "structural devices" in the governess's narrative--for example, the division into "sections" which "do not end arbitrarily, but often on notes of suspense" (197).

Timms's work is a valuable continuation of Sheppard's rebuttal of the "chain of error" (Sheppard 253) which has arisen concerning James's intentions in revising The Turn of the Screw for the New York Edition.

d. Stone: "Edition Architecture" and James's Intentions

While Timms attempted to refute a "chain of error" concerning James's intentions in revising the novella, Edward Stone sought to break a similar chain which had grown up around the placement of the tale in Volume 12 of the New York Edition, with stories of obsessed narrators, rather than in Volume 17, with ghost stories.

Stone begins by noting that Wilson--in his 1934, 1938, 1948, and 1959 essays--and Edel--in his preface to The Ghostly Tales and in a subsequent 1959 article in The New England Quarterly--had advanced "the thesis that `The Turn of the Screw' is a study in obsession, not a ghost story, by adducing the argument from context" (9). Stone does not take a position on the controversy between apparitionists and non-apparitionists, but states that this contextual argument is unsound because "length alone" (10) determined the story's placement and that, consequently, "the case for `The Turn of the Screw' as a study in obsession rather than a ghost story must rest on other, intrinsic, grounds" (16).

A detailed examination of the New York Edition, Stone contends, reveals a "symmetry of contents" (14) regarding length which was important to James. James sought to avoid vast differences in length between volumes. Furthermore, in Volumes 10 through 13, which are the "only ones in the edition that mix short novels and tales, we can discern a consistent symmetry of contents...from short novel to long tale to short tale" (14). By reproducing the tables of contents of these volumes, Stone demonstrates that this pattern obtains in Volumes 10, 11, and 13, and will obtain in Volume 12 if we "simply transpose the order of the first two stories" (15), placing The Turn of the Screw before The Aspern Papers. Stone provides other examples to demonstrate that James made such decisions. Thus "Julia Bride," although not a ghost story, is included in Volume 17, presumably because of its length--"for material reasons," James says, which, says Stone, "we must translate... surely into `reasons of space'" (15-16). Similarly,

Volume 15 is truly the Scenes of the Literary Life; but... the volume spills over into the first third of Volume 16. Significantly, the scenes of the remaining two thirds of this volume's contents are not those of the literary life. Yet the length of the last eight stories is that of the first four in the volume, even if the subject matter is not. This conflict between considerations of length and considerations of subject matter, Stone says, yielded a final arrangement which was "either not precisely planned or not precisely executed" (16).

Moreover, the Prefaces themselves, Stone maintains, tend to disconfirm the interpretation of Wilson and

Edel. Stone points out that half of the Preface to Volume 12 is devoted to a discussion of ghost stories and that James continues this discussion, repeating some of the earlier points made about The Turn of the Screw, in the Preface to Volume 17. Moreover, the Preface to Volume 12 makes no connection between The Turn of the Screw and the other stories in that volume; the Preface to Volume 17, by contrast, does specifically link The Turn of the Screw to the ghost stories in that volume.

Stone has done Jamesian scholars a service by his thoughtful and scholarly appraisal of another "chain of error" regarding James's intentions.

e. Sources as Guides to the Author's Intentions: Ryburn, Purton, Tinter, Duthie

Several other critics sought to ascertain James's intentions by tracing literary sources in The Turn of the Screw, although their efforts were on a much smaller scale than Sheppard's study.

Both May L. Ryburn and Valerie Purton called attention to the influence of Fielding's Amelia which, by her own admission, the governess was reading immediately prior to the appearance of Quint in chapter nine. Ryburn emphasizes the similarities of physical appearance between Quint and Mr. Robinson, citing passages from both works for purposes of comparison. Ryburn reminds us of what a marked impression the book made on the governess for understandable reasons--"Amelia was the first eighteenth-century novel the governess had read, the more impressive for being representative of literature specifically prayed against at home" (235-236). Moreover, the character of Robinson, in particular,

must have been revolting and fascinating at the same time....when he reappears as Quint's ghost, the governess has cleaned him up a bit....the dirty linen and unkempt beard are gone, replaced by details more appealing to a young girl's fancy (237).

James's purpose in making Quint's appearance similar to that of a fictional character with whom the governess had recently become acquainted and who could be assumed to hold a fascination for her is, Ryburn suggests, to provide "an intentional clue for the wary would seem to lay the ghosts to rest forever, except as they existed in the governess's mind" (237).

Purton follows a similar line of reasoning but concentrates on the character of Amelia rather than that of Mr. Robinson. Accepting Goddard's hypothesis that the governess wishes to sacrifice herself heroically for the absent and indifferent uncle, whom she loves, Purton suggests that Amelia would provide a "subtle temptation for identification": in Fielding's novel,

a devoted wife and mother sacrifices herself for her children, a boy and a girl, and for her erring, often absent husband....The governess...has no home, no family role. Amelia's authority as wife and mother, her consequent opportunities for heroic action, are precisely what she most lacks and most desires (24).

Like Ryburn, Purton maintains James had the "careful reader" in mind when he included this reference "to hint at the nature of the governess' imaginings" (24).

Adeline R. Tintner called attention to similarities in plot between Jane Eyre and The Turn of the Screw and between Charlotte Bronte as portrayed in Mrs. Gaskell's Life and James's anonymous narrator to argue "that in `The Turn of the Screw' James took possession of the persona of Charlotte Bronte and of certain basic structures in her novel, Jane Eyre" (42). Such "taking possession," Tintner contends, is consistent with a major and persistent aim of James--"the possession of a work and its incorporation into a newly created form" (42)--as reflected in the following quotation from The Art of the Novel: "To criticize is to appreciate, to appropriate, to take intellectual possession, to establish in fine a relation with the criticized thing and make it one's own" (qtd. in Tinter 42).

The similarities between Bronte and the governess include their ages (Bronte was thirty when she wrote Jane Eyre, the same age as the governess when she first met Douglas), their excellent handwriting, and their "interesting" personalities (42-43). The most important element from the Bronte novel, according to Tintner, is a conversation in chapter seventeen between Rochester and Blanche Ingram concerning governesses--in particular one incident "showing the evil effects of a liaison between a tutor and a governess on innocent children"--which "evil effects," Tintner suggests, "can be said to be the central theme of `The Turn of the Screw'" (44).

Duthie approvingly cites Tintner's article and then suggests "that the influence of Mrs. Gaskell's story [`The Old Nurse's Story'] may well have been complementary to that of Jane Eyre in `The Turn of the Screw'" (133). Duthie cites such common elements as "the determination of ghosts to lure an innocent child to its doom" and a female narrator "recalling events long past" (133). Both stories contain a servant who provides information to a governess-narrator and "graduated stages" (134) in a narrative which "culminates in a chilling denouement" (135).

f. Dyson: Ascertation of Author's Intention Through Consideration of Authorial Imagery

J. Peter Dyson contends that

the way in which Henry James uses the image of the beast in `The Turn of the Screw' provides supportive evidence for the interpretation which sees the governess herself as the source, witting or unwitting, of the `evil' in the tale.

Dyson buttresses his argument by considering "James' use of the same image in other tales of the same period"--particularly, "The Beast in the Jungle" and "The Jolly Corner." Dyson reminds us that John Marcher's beast is "not external to him; it is the knowledge that he has wasted his life in fruitless expectation....Spencer Brydon...recognizes the beast early on as his other self" (9).

The governess, Dyson says, identifies the beast with Quint throughout the story. At the end of the story, however, the ambiguous pronoun references and the word "spring" applied to herself indicate that "the one who springs is a version of the self. The governess is `the hideous author of our woe'" (9).

g. Clark and Houston: Attempts to Ascertain the Author's Intentions by Hypothesizing About What "Really" Happened in the Plot

Both Susan Clark and Neal B. Houston treat the narrative like something of an historical document--a record of real events--and, applying medical knowledge, attempt to ascertain the "true" cause of Miles's death. Since the events are fictional, however, such an attempt makes no sense unless it is seen a an attempt to decipher what the author consciously or unconsciously intended to be taken as the cause of his character's death. Accordingly, the application of medical knowledge to this question would appear to rest on the assumption that James possessed the relevant medical knowledge. Since there is no evidence that James was knowledgeable in this field, the foundation of these critical attempts is questionable. An author may be said to intuit unconsciously the basic truths of psychoanalysis, but people--authors or not--do not acquire detailed medical knowledge by intuition. James could, of course, have done some "conversational" research with medical acquaintances in connection with the composition of this story, but neither critic suggests this.

And they come to opposite conclusions. Clark suggests that Miles dies from "precocious cardiac arrest brought on by physical and emotional over-exertion" (112). She cites as evidence his dismissal from school in spite of apparent good behavior, suggesting that the school gives no definite information

because they assume the particulars are known by the designated recipient of their letter, the guardian uncle--who passes on the letter to the new governess but neglects to pass on the essential circumstances of Miles's illness. This omission would not be too surprising on the part of a guardian so excessively bored by his charges; nor would he want to frighten away his new employee (111).

Clark suggests that the problem may be "a heart murmur...from a bout with rheumatic fever" (111).

Houston, on the other hand, asserts the healthiness of Miles in order to argue that the governess's violence is responsible for his death--"she is the absolute cause of death...she is the murderess of Miles" (26). Houston's explanation of how she has done this sounds like an excerpt from a coroner's report:

...the governess, through her manhandling and violence, her catching him and forcefully holding him before and just previous to the moment of death...has done physical trauma to Miles; specifically, she has constrained him through her unsuppressed violence and produced what is medically known as a `Valsalva effect,' here, perhaps, the sudden sharp and continuous increase of pressure on the thoracic cavity to cause the dead-stop of Miles' heart (26).

Examining the behavior of Miles "from a diagnostician's point of view," Houston finds

the possibility...of any specific cardio-vascular disease is remote. Common diseases of pre-adolescent children, such as paroxysmal auricular tachycardia and congenital heart disease perhaps of the types such as patent ductus, arteriosus, anomalous venous return or interventricular septal defects which might result in embolus or obstructions of the blood vessels of the heart or brain, apparently do not exist in Miles. These diseases or defects are not usually associated with a restless child who is able to walk, immediately before his death, for `miles and miles' around the Master's estate. Too, it appears unlikely that Miles has any chronic disease, such as rheumatic heart disease, tuberculosis, or even `neurasthenia,' exhaustion of the nervous system, believed during James' day to be a common disease. Definitive symptoms of these maladies or of neurasthenia are largely absent in The Turn of the Screw (25-26).

2. Criticism Acknowledging the Work's Insoluble Ambiguity

A number of critics during this period sought not to resolve the work's ambiguity by ascertaining its "true" meaning, but rather to explain the genesis within the text of inherent and insoluble ambiguity and/or the effects of such ambiguity on the reader.

a. Conflicting Interpretations of the Novella Used to Make Points About Epistemology, Criticism, and Interpretation: Brenda Murphy

Brenda Murphy surveyed the long history of conflicting interpretations proffered by reputable critics and concluded that the controversies can never be resolved, that no definitive answers can be found to the questions the text raises. Furthermore, according to Murphy, the problems which arise from the attempt to interpret The Turn of the Screw are problems endemic to the hermeneutic enterprise itself because such problems are rooted in epistemology and the nature of communication.

For example, the conflicting evidence from the text suggests, Murphy says, that we cannot divine the author's intentions from such analysis--cannot, for example, determine whether he intended to write a ghost story or a story of mental illness. A pattern discerned in the text cannot provide a definitive answer because

such a method traps a critic in the hermeneutic circle....He brings a...conceptual framework with him to the text....the critic will be trying to understand the author's meaning in the context of an `extrinsic genre,' having already deprived himself of the possibility of grasping the author's actual `intrinsic genre.' Thus, the Freudian critic, or the myth critic, or the religious critic, or anyone with a predetermined framework for interpreting the author's work, is in the position of the viewer of an opera who has the preconceived notion that what he is watching is only a play. What he sees is no doubt there, and is significant and entertaining, but it cannot be denied that he is missing the greater part of the show (192-193).

Murphy then turns to James's statements about the story. These statements, of course, are enigmatic, as I demonstrated in the first chapter of this dissertation. But Murphy pinpoints two other problems which would apply to any attempt to discern an author's intentions from statements he has made about his own work. First, the author's statements may not be sincere. Murphy cites Kenton, Cargill, Bewley, and Rubin, who have taken this position. Secondly,

other critics (Edmund Wilson, Robert Heilman, Muriel West, Martha Banta, Juliet McMaster) take the preface to be half-truth , dealing only with the surface of James's `real' meaning. Still others (Mark Spilka, Daniel Troy, Francis Roellinger, Robert Wolff) see the preface as simply rational commentary on a story whose meaning exists only in James's subconscious or imagination.

Murphy concludes this discussion by noting that "at least two critics (Eric Solomon and Duncan Aswell) have summarily ignored the statements in the preface and established quite disparate interpretations through close readings of the text alone" (194).

We cannot with certainty ascertain an author's unconscious intention, says Murphy, "because it is impossible to determine an unconscious purpose or intent is made conscious" (195). We must interpret an author's words and actions, in psychoanalysis, much as we interpret a text--and here the hermeneutic circle reappears. In deciding what evidence is relevant, we are ruled, at least in part, by our own preconceptions. "It is my belief," says Murphy, "that...failure [is] inevitable, for the problem of the hermeneutic circle is not simply a problem of validity, but a basic fact of perception and communication" (197). Furthermore, Murphy cites Hirsch's statement that the author's "`willed meaning deliberately embraces analogous and unforeseeable implications'....Thus Hirsch takes a work of literature to be analogous to a law which may have implications which are not known to its originator, but are generated by the `purpose and intent' of the law" (195).

b. The Ambiguity and Its Place in Literary History: Wirth-Nesher, Merivale

These two critics considered the novella's inherent and unresolvable ambiguity to be part of a pattern in modern literature. In their attempts to understand the work by relating it to other literary works without arguing for a direct causal connection, as in a source study, these critics are similar to Heilman (in his 1961 article comparing The Turn of the Screw to Duerrenmatt's The Pledge), Feuerlicht, and Enck (all discussed in the preceding chapter of this dissertation). These approaches show the influence of structuralism's perception of literature as an isolated and self-referential world.

Hana Wirth-Nesher combines the above approach with a reader-response approach based in cultural history. She compares The Turn of the Screw to Heart of Darkness and contrasts both with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Generalizing from the reactions of students in her literature classes and conversations with her academic colleagues, Wirth-Nesher suggests that the latter book has largely lost its ability to terrify while the former two have not. The reason for this, she suggests, is that we are no longer intrigued by works that appear to be self-contained, that pose conflicts and resolve them, but we are increasingly more drawn to works that lure us down dark corridors where we lose our way. We return from the text not by finding the right way out, but by recognizing the tenuousness and artifice both of the house of fiction and of our own fixed sense of self. There are no revelatory endings in these works by James and Conrad (317).

Wirth-Nesher makes a number of telling comparisons between Marlow and the governess--especially in regard to the "double" and "rescue" (325) motifs in the two stories. Both stories are told by an unreliable narrator attempting to rescue a victim who doesn't want to be rescued from a poorly defined evil which is largely a projection of the narrator's "own tabooed desires" (321). We respond to the works because the uncertainty they generate is met by the uncertainty we willingly provide. Both nouvelles are about the terror of having to make moral choices on uncertain perceptions of evil; they are about false or exaggerated notions of innocence and the evil unleashed in trying to preserve what is only a fraud. And finally, they are structures of words acting as conspiracies of silence. There may be quiet streets in Stevenson's London, but even the sound of footsteps muffled by the night fog in that ordered world cannot compare to the vague stirrings and rustlings of Bly and the jungle (325).

Patricia Merivale takes a similar approach, comparing The Turn of the Screw to other "gothic" works--particularly, Witold Gombricz's Pornografia. The Turn of the Screw, says Merivale, like The Sacred Fount, [draws] upon numerous familiar conventions of Gothic fiction--ghosts, doubles, haunted houses, and all the tricks of psychological sadism--to make serious statements about the kind of modern self-reflexive fiction that, like earlier Gothic artist parables by Balzac, Hoffmann, Hawthorne, and Poe, exemplifies the Romantic position that the poet is accursed and the artistic process at best morally dubious (992).

This "significant fictional mode" is fiction about fiction and thus reflects--as does the type of criticism in which Wirth-Nesher and Merivale are engaging--the structuralist view of literature as a self-referential universe. In these works

an artist hero, whether as voyeur or stage director, uses the lives of others as the raw material for his own `work of art,' which is contained within, and is the main substance of, the text we read (992).

We see, thus, "the books narcissistically contemplating their own images, the authors writing about themselves writing" (993). Ambiguity is essential because the Gothic is "a deformed sibling" of the detective genre in which we see

the outer world in terms of the inner....Both genres, detective story and horror story, being not only about what we perceive but about how we perceive it, and about the ways in which the `how' actually changes the `what,' yield fundamental patterns and structures for self-regarding, form-obsessed modernist fiction... (992).

In both The Turn of the Screw and Pornografia, "the narrators repeatedly think of themselves as insane, or likely to become so, and observe that others do also" (997). The narrator of Pornografia is a lecherous old stage manager who, along with his aged homosexual partner, formulates "a plot to bring about a corollary pairing of the young" in a country house like Bly. Both men are attracted to a teenage boy named Karol. They pair with him a girl, Henia, in order to watch and achieve a vicarious sexual satisfaction--"For us, who were too old, it was the only possibility of an erotic contact with them" (qtd. in Wirth-Nesher 999). The similarities to The Turn of the Screw are striking. First, there are "the surface relationships":

Quint and Jessel, Miles and Flora constitute the same sort of erotic quartet as Frederic and Witold, Henia and Karol, while the shadow relationship of the Governess turning her imagination into reality, by way of manipulative pressures, is as much part of Frederick and Witold's role as is a straightforward `diabolism' like Quint and Jessel's (999-1000).

Furthermore, the narrator's distorted perception finally, in some sense, becomes reality--the governess's

`obtrusion of the idea of grossness and guilt on a small helpless creature'...succeeds in destroying Miles and Flora; a similar 'obtrusion' eventually makes Karol and Henia as guilty as they were at first merely imagined to be (1000).

c. Reader-Response Criticism Employing Psychoanalysis of a Fictional Character to Explain Ambiguity: Huntley

Huntley suggests that the ghosts are projections of repressed aspects of the governess's own personality--specifically, "hallucinated projections of her own sublimated feelings toward the master" (232), as well as externalizations of "that very possessiveness she herself manifests toward the children" (233), a possessiveness which finally destroys them. To support this interpretation, Huntley cites from the text evidence of the kind adduced by Bontly (discussed in the previous chapter)--incidents in which the behavior of the governess mirrors that of the ghosts. Huntley recalls, for example, the governess standing where Quint had stood and, from his vantage point, looking into the parlor (chapter four) or sinking down on the same step where she had previously seen Miss Jessel sitting (chapter fifteen). Whereas Bontly had seen Miss Jessel as the governess's hallucinated double and Quint as the sexualized counterpart of the employer and/or the governess's father, Huntley suggests that--while Quint is the "evil opposite" (233) of the employer--the two sexually related figures are, nevertheless, a unit, both representing the governess's "demonic" (232) personality. In support of this contention Huntley recalls the "two double figures" in George Du Maurier's Peter Ibbetson, which was "published in 1891, though he [Du Maurier] had described the plot to James even earlier" (228).

Huntley is not interested in psychoanalyzing the governess for the sake of the analysis itself or in arguing about what "really" happens in the plot. Indeed, Huntley rebukes critics who debate such questions for

too often obscuring the central artistic problem....We are not dealing here with the real world where things either are or aren't, but with the quality and complexity of James' imagination--specifically the particular problem posed by his subject, the handling of ghost material (224).

Accordingly, Huntley's purpose in analyzing these hallucinations is to make a point about artistic technique in the construction of the story--to argue

that here, for the first time, James was experimenting with the Doppelganger motif, an experiment aimed at solving a major problem of form and effect in the work as James himself has described that problem in his various letters and prefaces (224).

The "problem," of course, was how to "`rouse the dear old sacred terror'" and "keep the incredible credible in an extended narrative" (226). "The answer," Huntley suggests,

lay in that deliberately ambiguous point of view, the use of a narrator who may or may not be mad, that delicately maintained balance between genuine wraiths and a neurotic narrator, which between them could evoke and sustain both credibility and terror without exhausting either (228).

We have such an "unreliable narrator" in this woman whose very acts and personality bear strange correspondences to the creatures she describes to the unseeing around her, but with just enough credence about her tale to give even the `unwary' pause before judging....a balance between fantasy and reality so fine that to insist on some final 'explanation' is akin to hammering on butterflies (237).

Critics who attempt to resolve the ambiguity are misguided because the ambiguity

remains the necessary condition of the tale itself, as James once tried to explain to a bewildered psychic researcher. In The Turn of the Screw specifically, and some of his other tales generally, wrote James, `the one thing and another that are questionable and ambiguous in them I mostly take to be conditions of their having got themselves pushed through at all.' This, then, was the appropriate form he decided upon (228).

Thus, Huntley's concern is with the reader's response to the work. His explanation is reminiscent of Goddard's suggestion that, albeit perhaps unconsciously, the reader finds credible the story of a deluded and dangerous governess even if the reader does not believe in ghosts. Like Sheppard, Huntley considers James unlikely to have been familiar with technical psychoanalytic literature. He argues, however, that the Doppelganger motif is pervasive in fiction with which James would have been familiar--Poe's "Edmund Wilson," Dostoyevsky's "The Double," and Du Maurier's Peter Ibbetson, for example. Huntley also cites parallels in other works of James--for example, "The Jolly Corner" and The Sense of the Past. Moreover,

the familiar characteristics of the double figure as it has traditionally appeared in western and Slavic literature are fairly constant: These characteristics may be summed up as follows: (1) the state of anxiety which both precedes and prompts the appearance of the double; (2) a sense of premonition in the primary self at the approach of the double; (3) a mood of timelessness and isolation which envelops the beholder during the experience; (4) a vague and troubled sense of having known this figure previously; (5) the double's role as moral and intellectual antithesis of the surface personality, often resulting in its rejection by the primary self; and (6) a peculiar duplication of action, posture, or mood between the primary self and the double. While all of these characteristics are present in The Turn of the Screw, they do not always occur with both Peter Quint and Miss Jessel; but between the two of them James has given sufficient hints as to what he was up to (228-229).

d. Reader-Response Criticism Focusing on the Implied Reader in the Ambiguous Text: Felman, Kevin Murphy, MacNaughton, Obuchowski, Stepp

The story's ambiguity, according to Shoshana Felman, is rooted in the three-narrator narrative frame. Such a frame provides no basis for deciding between the conflicting perspectives of various characters within the story. We expect the narrator to provide such a touchstone, she suggests, but our expectations are undercut by the plurality of narrators. "The story's origin," in other words,

seems to depend on the authority of the story teller, i.e., of the narrator, who is usually supposed to be both the story's literal source and the depository of the knowledge out of which the story springs and which the telling must reveal. But while the prologue's function would thus seem to be to relate the story to its narrator, the prologue of The Turn of the Screw rather disconnects the story from the narrator since it introduces not one narrator, but three....The story's origin is therefore not assigned to any one voice which would assume responsibility for the tale, but to the deferred action of a sort of echoing effect, produced--`after the fact'--by voices which themselves re-produce previous voices (120-121).

Because no narrator serves as a veridical touchstone for evaluating incomplete evidence, contradictory clues, and varying perspectives, there are no "innocent readers" of this story. This, says Felman, is precisely the "trap" which James intended to create by this narrative structure.

The trap, indeed, resides precisely in the way in which these...opposing types of reading are themselves inscribed and comprehended in the text. The reader of The Turn of the Screw can choose either to believe the governess and thus to behave like Mrs. Grose, or not to believe the governess, and thus to behave precisely like the governess. Since it is the governess who, within the text, plays the role of the suspicious reader, occupies the place of the interpreter, to suspect that place and that position is, therefore, to take it. To demystify the governess is only possible on one condition: the condition of repeating the governess's very gesture. The text thus constitutes a reading of its two possible readings, both of which it deconstructs (190).

Thus, one cannot "interpret" the text from outside the text. To attempt to "interpret" this work or resolve its ambiguity is to participate in a controversy in which the fictional characters are participating.

One of the richest and most illuminating elements in Felman's essay is her survey of critical reactions to The Turn of the Screw to demonstrate how the critics have unwittingly been brought into the story as participants. Felman notes the intensely personal reactions of even the earliest reviews--The Outlook, for example describing the story as "`distinctly repulsive'" and The Independent calling it "`the most hopelessly evil story that we have ever read....The story...affects the reader with a disgust that not be expressed.'" What is significant in this and similar reviews, says Felman, is the fact that "what is perceived as the most scandalous thing about this scandalous story is that we are forced to participate in the scandal, that the reader's innocence cannot remain intact" (96-97).

Later, says Felman, "when the pronouncements of the various sides of the controversy are examined closely, they are found to repeat unwittingly--with a spectacular regularity--all the main lexical motifs of the text." For example, Felman finds "the motif of a danger which must be averted" in Fagin's remark that "`the danger in the psychoanalytic method of criticism lies in its apparent plausibility.'" "The motif of a violent aggression inflicted upon an object by an injurious, alien force" is reflected in the following statement of Heilman: "`The Freudian reading of Henry James "The Turn of the Screw"...does violence not only to the story but also to the Preface.'" Oliver Evans repeats "the motif of attack and defense, of confrontation and struggle" when he "proposes that Wilson's theory be `attacked point by point.'" Katherine Anne Porter repeats "the motif of final victory, of the enemy's defeat" when she says, "`Here is one place where I find Freud completely defeated.'" Felman finds the motif of "salvation" in Heilman's assertion that "`The Turn of the Screw is worth saving'" from the "psychoanalytic reading's abuses." Spilka--when he says, "`Freudian critics of the tale are strongly prepossessed'"--seems to Felman to be suggesting that psychoanalytic critics are " the ghost of Freud" as Miles and Flora are possessed by the ghosts of Quint and Jessel. These statements of Heilman and Spilka, according to Felman, mirror

the exorcistic operations of the governess vis a vis her `possessed' charges, and...the critical confrontation appears itself as a kind of struggle against some ghost-effect that has somehow been awakened by psychoanalysis.

On the other hand, when Heilman accuses Wilson of "`hysterical blindness'" for the latter's alleged misinterpretation of James's use of the word "authority" in the Preface,

Wilson's reading is thus polemicized into a hysterical reading, itself viewed as a neurotic is the very critic who excludes the hypothesis of neurosis from the story, who is rediscovering neurosis in Wilson's critical interpretation of the story, an interpretation which he rejects precisely on the grounds that pathology as such cannot explain the text... (98-103).

Felman suggests that critics such as Wilson who stand "outside" the story and attempt to resolve its questions with some "objective" explanation do violence to the story. Wilson, in attempting to answer Mrs. Griffin's question--to make explicit the hidden love story, is doing what Douglas says the text refuses to do.

`The story won't tell; not in any literal, vulgar way.' These textual lines could be read as an ironic note through which James's text seems to be commenting upon Wilson's reading. And this Jamesian commentary seems to be suggesting that such a reading might indeed be inaccurate not so much because it is incorrect or false, but because it is, in James's terms, vulgar (107).

Such a "vulgar" reading does violence to the subtleties of the text, in its unconscious depths, strangling the unconscious as the governess strangled Miles to force some "rudimentary, reductive" (107) answer.

And such a "vulgar" reading does violence to the Freudian texts it employs--especially if Freud is interpreted as Lacan interprets him. Critics who reductively interpret the text simplify language, which is inherently and ineradicably ambiguous, and also simplify sexuality. According to Lacan, the ambiguity of language--its tendency to always "miss," to never fully coincide with meaning, is related to a lack of satisfaction inherent in sexuality. Both language and sexuality arise from the drive to regain oneness with the mother's body, a oneness which is irretrievably lost. Felman cites a case in which a Viennese woman, recently divorced, consulted a physician, superficially acquainted with Freud's theories, who advised her that "`lack of sexual satisfaction'" was her main problem--`"and so there were only three ways by which she could recover her health--she must either return to her husband, or take a lover, or obtain satisfaction from herself.'" Felman perceives an

analogy between the rather comical situation Freud describes and the so-called Freudian treatment of the governess by Wilson. In both cases, the reference to Freud's theory is as brutally and as crudely literal, reducing the psychoanalytic explanation to the simple `lack of sexual satisfaction' (108).

This physician, Felman suggests, failed to realize that "`lack of satisfaction' not simply an accident in sexual life, it is essentially inherent in it" because sexuality is rooted in a desire for something inescapably lost. "`All human structures,' says Lacan, after Freud, `have as their essence not as an accident, the restraint of pleasure--of fulfillment'" (111).

Thus, the "vulgarity" of critics such as Wilson is the physician's ignorance applied to language. They misunderstand language as the physician misunderstood sexuality.

The literal is `vulgar' because it stops the movement constitutive of meaning, because it blocks and interrupts the endless process of metaphysical substitution. The vulgar, therefore, is anything which misses, or falls short of, the dimension of the symbolic, anything which rules out, or excludes, meaning as a loss and as a flight,--anything which strives, in other words, to eliminate from language its inherent silence, anything which misses the specific way in which a text actively `won't tell' (107).

The true concern of psychoanalysis, Felman suggests,

is rather that through which meaning in the text does not come off, that which in the text, and through which the text, fails to mean, that which can engender but a conflict of interpretations, a critical debate and discord precisely like the polemic which surrounds The Turn of the Screw and with which we are concerned here (112).

Felman's article is a masterful synthesis of structuralism and reader-response psychoanalysis leading to a "deconstruction" of the text.

W.R. MacNaughton rejoices in "the story's richness--its ability to stimulate so many plausible interpretations" (22). He attempts to understand this "rich" ambiguity by examining the tale in the "context...of the rest of James's first-person fiction" (19). Such an examination reveals a pattern whereby

James makes it excruciatingly difficult for his narrators to see clearly the evidence upon which action must be based and thus for his readers to decide unequivocally whether his narrators have been wise or unwise, just or unjust. A reader puzzled by the resulting ambiguity should be encouraged to discover its causes and, in so doing, to recognize its implications in these stories of which he was originally unaware. There may be social implications, for example: how can a person evaluate evidence if the source of it is a hypocrite or a bigot? How can one see in a milieu where faces meet faces? There may be psychological implications as well: how can one observe clearly if his vision is fogged by an obsession? A tale's ambiguity can serve as a reward for the type of reader whom James most admired because whoever is willing to give intelligently of himself in responding to the challenge offered by a story is able to learn progressively more about the characters and the world which they inhabit (22).

It is easy to see the similarity between MacNaughton's approach and Felman's. Both see the reader forced, by the structure of the text, to become an active participant within the story's world. Yet MacNaughton disagrees with critics such as Vaid who see the governess primarily as a narrative technique rather than a character. These narrators, he says, are complex characters with prejudices "greatly influenced by the credo of...society" (21) and moral failures such as pride. It is in judging the character, as well as the evidence, that the reader participates in the text.

Peter A. Obuchowski contends that "James's technique" makes a definitive reading of The Turn of the Screw impossible and its ambiguity ineradicable. This "technique" is to provide "a narrator without providing a touchstone for judging the truth or falsity of her account," along with "too much conflicting evidence for anyone to establish convincingly the view of her that James intends" (380). Obuchowski makes some very interesting observations about the triple narrator frame, suggesting that "James uses the frame to confuse further the center of authority" by presenting "the characterization of the governess by Douglas" when "the relationship between the governess and Douglas remains ambiguous." Furthermore, "the narrator's sympathy with Douglas" suggests that this guest may have altered the manuscript in transcription to protect Douglas and/or the governess. Furthermore, "one is left wondering about the immediate aftermath of the events at Bly"--the possibility of a criminal investigation of Miles's death, for example--and Douglas does not address these questions in the prologue. "The Turn of the Screw, however, makes one ask such questions by drawing attention to them" (381-382).

Such narrators, Obuchowski contends,

take the author out of the book and force the reader to become directly involved in the story....This technique leads to ambiguity and forces the reader to participate actively ....James manipulates his narrators and, by extension, his fictional world to involve the reader totally. The reader is forced to puzzle the book together (382-383).

Obuchowski relates this process to James's often stated attempt "to make the novel more realistic" as the reader "meets the governess much as he meets a person in a real-life situation" (383).

Obuchowski contends--like Krook and Felman, among others--that "the reader is made to operate much like the governess" (387) because his information is what she provides. He offers an interesting theory as to how this fact increases the story's uncanny effect.

Like her, he must judge with incomplete or distorted knowledge. In relationship to both the governess and the children, one has the eerie sensation that he is either being taken in by evil or misjudging innocence....In her presence he experiences the unsettling fear that besets the sound mind when exposed for too long a period of time to certain forms of mental illness. He finds himself thinking like her (388).

Although his main concern is to understand the story's psychological effects on the reader rather than to elucidate a philosophical theme, Obuchowski does find a theme similar to the theme critics such as Enck and Krook perceive:

Reduced to theme, the novel is a Jamesian statement on the nature of reality. James presents reality as flux and complex process. No one perceives it in exactly the same way as another, and no one sees it wholly. Such a relativistic view leads, of course, to ambiguity and little prospect for human certainty (385).

Kevin A. Murphy, like the above critics, attempts to explain the tale's "ultimate opacity" by analyzing

"some of the strategies James employs to prevent a consistent reading of the text" (539).

In a formulation reminiscent of Felman, Murphy argues that the reader is forced, by the structure of the text, to repeat the experience of the governess. Because of the inconclusive evidence presented by the story, the reader is forced, like the governess at Bly, to confront and interpret an ambiguous situation. It then matters not whether the reader subscribes to an apparitionist or a non-apparitionist interpretation.

In either case...we repeat the governess's behavior: in response to our 'bewilderment of vision' concerning this ambiguous character, we must create beyond the fragments to make sense of what we see (550).

In asserting that a large part of the reader's task is judging the "character" of the governess, Murphy is reminiscent of MacNaughton. Murphy, like Obuchowski, suggests that the reader is led astray, at least initially, by Douglas's good recommendation in the prologue. Because the reader initially trusts her, his subsequent questioning of her veracity replicates her bewilderment over the "reality" of Quint.

Just as the governess has difficulty meshing her inward image of the handsome bachelor with her outward perception of the man on the tower, we too have difficulty coming to terms with our apparition, the governess herself. Our introduction to this character is entirely favorable:....With the shift to the governess's first-person narration, our imagination, in a sense, turns real: the governess is before us, as worthy and agreeable as she has been reported to be. The verification of her apparition of the dead Quint explains fully, or at least deflects our attention away from, the discordant elements in her personality. But, as the tale progresses, these discordant traits move closer and closer to the foreground. The governess's defensive snobbery concerning her ambiguous office, her constant interpretation of events to highlight her own altruism, and her obsession to save the children at any cost all become more pronounced and sinister (547).

The apparent agreement between Douglas and the first narrator, Murphy suggests, mirrors the apparent agreement between the governess and Mrs. Grose concerning the events at Bly. In both cases the collaboration further confuses the reader. Upon first consideration the affinity between Douglas and the first narrator seems to enhance Douglas's authority and support his evaluation of the governess (this is Allen's main point), just as Mrs. Grose's apparent concurrence--the "identification scene," for example--seems to validate the interpretations of the governess. Closer reflection, however, reveals that these collaborating witnesses are unreliable themselves. The first narrator, for example, seems preoccupied with the handsome employer--infatuated in somewhat the same way as the governess. This narrator asks Douglas if the position at Bly "`brought with it...'" and is interrupted by Douglas's completion, "`Necessary danger to life?''' "Of the hundreds of ways Douglas might have completed this thought," says Murphy,

he naturally chooses the one that sums up the drift of his forthcoming tale. But if we look at what precedes the remark, there is no reason to suppose that Douglas's completion would have been exactly or even roughly the same as the narrator's. The narrator is more than happy to accept Douglas's completion since it marks him as an acute, as opposed to literal-minded or vulgar, listener, and thus he continues, with increasing confidence, to collaborate in the anticipations. The entanglement of the narrator is so complete by the time Douglas opens the manuscript that, when Douglas responds to one of the ladies that his story has no title, the narrator interrupts emphatically, `Oh I have!'...But it is too late: Douglas begins to read the manuscript with the narrator and the rest of the assembly listening intently while we puzzle momentarily over what the narrator's title might have been (540-541).

The significance of Mrs. Grose's collaboration is similarly ambiguous. Murphy, like Cole, calls attention to the language barrier which separates the two women and which may plausibly account for misunderstandings between them. Furthermore, Murphy reminds us that the governess misrepresents the facts when she tells Mrs. Grose that Miss Jessel has spoken to her in the schoolroom, and he suggests that she may similarly be deceiving the reader when she reports that Mrs. Grose has positively identified Peter Quint on the basis of the governess's detailed description of the man seen looking through the window of the parlor.

Seizing on the ambiguous blending of the identities of Douglas and Miles noted by critics such as Collins, Rubin, and Trachtenberg, Walter Stepp finds another implied reader imbedded in the structure of the text: Douglas, the grownup Miles, to whom the governess's manuscript is addressed. This

implicit, intuitive dialogue between the older, wiser governess and Douglas--or Miles Douglas ....the revelation of Miles as `thou' to the governess' `I' will point to the chief source of that rich reverberation that Heilman notes (76).

Stepp is similar to Hallab in locating this "rich reverberation" in the synthesis of previously seemingly conflicting elements of the psyche. Stepp suggests that the grown woman is confessing her love to the man--with both of them integrating the destructive experiences of Bly into some new synthesis of wholeness and love.

The felt mystery...has resided perhaps in the fact that what is sundered in the reader's understanding--i.e., Miles, the boy who `died,' and Douglas, the living man--is unified and continuous in the governess's perception. Rather, I should say, in her `apperception.' This apperceptive dimension of The Turn of the Screw--the sense of return and of `know[ing] the place for the first time'--forms the matrix for the largest `re-cognitions' of James's great tale; and it is the key recognition, first of all, of Douglas as Miles, which unlocks the rest (976).

Stepp's essay is most valuable for the questions it raises and the doors it opens. He does not, however, pursue these possibilities as systematically and thoroughly as we might hope. For example, in commenting on the "son-mother relationship of Miles and the governess" which "becomes more complex as we begin to touch on the unspoken love between them," Stepp says, "For present purposes we may pass over the Oedipal complications of the story in the lighthearted, worldly way of Mrs. Griffin" (81). And yet, these "Oedipal complications" seem central to Stepp's understanding of the reader's response to the story. He seems to suggest that the reader attains some deep but non-incestuous union with his pre-Oedipal mother memory--perhaps with the archetype in the unconscious which represents the mother. This union, he seems to suggest, is central to the rebirth experience.

Judgment must wait on recapitulation of the experience--the death and rebirth--of the boy, Miles, through the man, Douglas. And to pass through the Miles-Douglas experience is to more closely accompany the governess on her strange journey, for their fates are as closely linked as a son's and a mother's (81).

This experience occurs in microcosm in the prologue, Stepp suggests, in the opening anecdote about the little boy who awakened his mother at night to perceive a horrible vision which, in turn, terrified her, his would-be consoler. "The boy," Stepp tells us,

has not wakened his mother `to dissipate his dread and soothe him to sleep again,' as we may imagine most children might:...`but to encounter also herself, before she had succeeded in doing so, the same sight that has shocked him.'...The boy, it seems, calls upon his mother to witness, even resisting her solace until she has done so. A remarkable boy. He wants his mother to see and therefore believe in the terrible vision he faces--`to encounter' it. He does not want it sugared over with a `most liberal faith'; he wants his mother's deepest faith and he cannot have it, of course, if she merely humors the vision in the maternal way as, say, a fairy tale. A too-ready comfort will be of no use to him when the dread appearance comes again, as it must" (80).

The boy's experience is repeated in the relationship of Miles to the governess. The governess's experience, in all its horror, equals whatever Miles experienced.

We end where we began, as in the famous phrase, and know the place for the first time: as the boy wakened his mother to witness the dread vision, so was he wakened by her, by her dread vision. Now he has seen what she has seen, and he does not judge her. They have encountered, together, the same sight (81).

e. Linguistically Based Criticism: The Ambiguity Embedded in the Linguistic Structures of the Text: Brooke-Rose and Rimmon

During this period two important, linguistically oriented studies appeared which attempted to locate the genesis of the story's ambiguity in the linguistic structures of the text. A full treatment of these studies would take us away from literary criticism and into the related but distinct discipline of scientific linguistics. Accordingly, we shall only indicate here the broad outlines of these approaches.

In 1976 and 1977 Christine Brooke-Rose published a series of three related articles on The Turn of the Screw in Poetics and Theory of Literature.

In the first of these, "`The Turn of the Screw' and Its Critics," she surveyed the major interpretations of the story, showing how the apparitionist and non-apparitionist arguments cancel one another, with both sides citing what appears to be persuasive evidence from the text and sometimes the very same evidence (because much of the evidence can be interpreted in diametrically opposite ways). This, she holds, has arisen from a misunderstanding of the genre. The Turn of the Screw "more than perfectly illustrates the narrow definition of the pure fantastic given by Todorov: the hesitation of the reader must be sustained to the end" (128). The "pure fantastic" is a "hesitation" between a naturalistic and supernatural fabula, both existing implicitly in the same text or sjuzvet. Critics have failed to realize this and thus have been led "into taking up positions for or against one of the interpretations" (128).

More importantly, like Felman--although with different examples--she shows how the critics unwittingly repeat the mental operations of the governess. Brooke-Rose's emphasis here is more linguistic than Felman's. Brooke-Rose tends to concentrate more on how the governess's language--with its implied thought processes and assumptions about reality--is reflected in the "metalanguage" of the critics. For example

the narrator's habit of sliding from supposition (apparently) to assertion,(precisely) for what ought to be supposition ....and the critics constantly do the same thing, using somehow, in some manner or other, in a manner of speaking, etc., where precision is required, and evidently, clearly, etc. (not to mention simple assertion, as we shall see) for what is only supposition (132).

Thus, Brooke-Rose compares the governess's forced hypothesis in chapter ten--"`There was clearly another person above me--there was a person on the tower'" to Jones's statement that "`clearly James did not intend to portray the governess as a sex-starved spinster, a hysterical personality subject to hallucinations, a pathological liar' (nothing less clear than this)" (132-133). Further, critics add subjective interpretations and misrepresentations when paraphrasing the events of the story--Brooke-Rose recalls Kenton's phrase "`the little governess'"--and misrepresent the statements of other critics. Moreover, "fallacious arguments" abound--for example, Reed's assertion that

are we as readers to accept it'....Mrs. Grose accepts the ghosts wholly and finally for an illogical reason: Flora's language, which can just as easily be explained by the very `facts' from the past told by Mrs. Grose....This same illogical reason is a proof for Reed sin`to the degree that Mrs. Grose accepts the evidence so he identifies with Mrs. Grose (146).

These readings have occurred, Brooke-Rose suggests, because the work is

structured (intentionally or not) on the same principle that a neurosis is structured....And the structure of a neurosis involves the attempt (often irresistible) to drag the `other' down into itself, into the neurosis, the other being here the reader. This structure is successful, as we have seen, which is why I call the governess's state (her language) `contagious' (156).

In the next two articles Brooke-Rose attempts to show how the above "structure" is embedded in the text. In "`The Turn of the Screw': Mirror Structures as Basic Structures," she discusses the "bare structure" of the work and the "mirror structure" through which the former is mediated. In "The Surface Structures in The Turn of the Screw," she analyzes the work's "surface structures" and then sums up the position which has been developed in the three articles. These articles have been reprinted, with minor changes, in Brooke-Rose's book A Rhetoric of the Unreal. We will cite the versions reprinted in the book.

Like most structuralists, Brooke-Rose recognizes the distinction between "story" and "discourse"--

histoire being the skeleton, or events as they are supposed to have occurred, discours being the flesh and blood, or the way these events are presented, in time, speed, point of view, distancing, etc., or what Genette...recognizes as time, mood, and voice. This distinction is the same made by the Russian Formalists between fabula (histoire) and sjuzvet (discours or agencement, treatment)" ("Surface" 189).

The ambiguity exists because the structures of The Turn of the Screw equally support "two mutually exclusive fabulas in that sjuzvet" ("Surface" 229)--namely, the apparitionist and non-apparitionist fabulas.

These fabulas are embedded in a "bare structure": the "narrative frame," which consists of an "injunction"--that she not "trouble" the employer; the injunction's "transgression"; and the "result" of the transgression. The injunction takes place before she comes to Bly, and we are told about this injunction in the prologue. The transgression is partly narrated in her account and partly implied by her rendition of the events and the information supplied by Douglas. the end of the governess's narrative she has not only decided to trouble him (though the letter is stolen by Miles), she has also behaved in such a way as to involve him anyway (a sick child, then a dead child) ("Basic" 175).

The "result" we are told in the prologue--her estrangement from the employer, and, finally, the manuscript she sends to Douglas.

We are not of course told the sequel, except, in the Introduction, that `she never saw him again'. We are left to infer some sort of involvement on his part, if not with her directly (something she could not foresee), at least via Mrs. Grose, and since the Prologue also tells us that ten years later she was governess to Douglas's sister, presumably she was not in any way blamed, or not sufficiently, to prevent her from further practising her profession. And of course she was `cured', in the hallucination theory, though still impelled to write her narrative in the form its real author presents it to us. The real result, then, is not so much `punishment' as the text we read ("Basic" 175).

This "basic structure," according to Brooke-Rose, is presented to us "framed" in a "mirror structure"--a set of reflecting dichotomies suggestive of reflections in a mirror. The macro-text pattern--injunction, disobedience, result--is repeated in micro-text form in the governess's narrative--in this case, the "injunction" being the order to "deal with" the letter from the headmaster of Miles's school. Furthermore, this specific injunction is split into two mirroring injunctions--"`deal with him, but mind you, don't report.'" These mirrored injunctions, Brooke-Rose points out, put the governess in an impossible position. She

disobeys (1) but obeys (2), at least for the time being. It could be said that she disobeys (1) in order to obey (2), since a mere sister's governess could probably not really deal with a headmaster, and even finding a new school would presumably have to pass through the Master (the critics' accusations that she does nothing ignore these social features in relation to the specific unreasonable demand by the employer). The split of the two masters emphasizes the split injunction: `the Master' (in Mrs. Grose's terminology, which the governess accepts when in conversation with her) and the headmaster; to tackle the second she must bother the first ("Basic" 176).

A number of critics--Huntley and Bontly, for example--have emphasized the ways in which Miss Jessel and/or Peter Quint mirror the governess, their relationship mirrors the governess's relationship with the employer, or Miles mirrors the employer, etc. Brooke-Rose points out many additional examples--too many to enumerate here. As a representative example, consider her discussion of the "inside-outside" and "horizontal-vertical" pairings.

Both apparitions...first appear outside (on the tower, by the lake), but even here there is a disjunction: Quint is seen from the grounds but on the tower (horizontal frontier between out and in), Miss Jessel completely outside. Quint will appear inside the house only once (on the stairs), but twice at the window (vertical frontier between out and in). Miss Jessel, who is closer to the governess's own identity, will appear first outside, twice inside (the stairs, the schoolroom), and lastly outside again ("Basic" 163).

Moreover, the figures are distorted--Quint seen only from the waist up and described "in a detail which verges on the absurd" and Jessel "described only in the vaguest terms, convenient to the situation, conventional in any ghost story" ("Basic" 163). These distortions, says Brooke-Rose, are suggestive of reflections in a mirror.

What do we see in a mirror? Idealized or ugly reflections, according to our emotional needs and physical states, according to the light, the quality of the mirror; parts of ourselves or ourselves whole (but never in the round), from different angles and at different distances according to the position of the mirror, and in any case always reversed, never as others see us ("Basic" 164).

But the events are embedded in a mirror structure in still another way. "A mirror," says Brooke-Rose, "not only distorts, it frames, and a frame is normally four-sided. And the figure four literally [sic] frames the text." Brooke-Rose presents "a quadripartite structure of mathematical precision"; within each group the four elements are "cross-linked" in three binary patterns of reflecting pairs. There are six groups of four: "four main living characters at Bly...: the governess, Mrs. Grose, Miles, Flora" (in one of the "cross-linkings" the governess and Mrs. Grose are paired with Miles and Flora); "four ex-guardians (all failing in some way): the uncle, Mrs. Grose, Quint, Miss Jessel" (in one of the "cross-linkings" the uncle and Mrs. Grose, who are alive, are paired with Quint and Jessel, who are dead); "four presently concerned with the children: the governess, Mrs. Grose, Quint, Jessel"; "four in a supposed evil relationship: Quint, Miss Jessel, Miles, Flora" (in one "cross-linking" Quint and Jessel are paired with Miles and Flora--in another, Quint and Miles are paired with Jessel and Flora); four narrators--Griffin and Douglas, the I-narrator, and the governess; "four readers or receptors of the story": Douglas, the I-narrator, the other listeners at Douglas's country home, and the readers of the novella (in one "cross-linking" Douglas and the I-narrator are paired with "the others and us"--in another "Douglas and his listeners" are paired with "the I-narrator and us") ("Basic" 172-173).

It is easy to see how the "bare structure" and the framing "mirror structure" support both fabulas--the apparitionist and non-apparitionist readings of the story. The "bare structure"--injunction, transgression, denial--is compatible with both

hypotheses: `the elaborate machinery' she sets in motion to `attract his attention' applies equally to hallucinations and to ghosts as evil pre-existent but not normally visible except to the predisposed. For it is never mentioned that from the ghosts' viewpoint in the governess's notion of their intentions, her ability to see them is a nuisance except, if this were a banal story, to frighten her away; indeed, in her own notion of their capacity, there is a time when her eyes are sealed to their supposedly continued visitations. A less complex story would provide a different motivation in which the ghosts would want to be seen by the main character. In this way they ought not to want this, but she needs to be in the picture, not only as saviour in the drama produced, but also to be looked at, outside the picture as voyeur of the communication between the ghosts and the children, inside the picture as screen between them ("Basic" 183-184).

Similarly, the mirror structure is

a system of inversion and variation that correspond to the psychic structure of projection (hypersensitivity to and identification with external phenomena for the supernatural hypothesis, hallucination for the natural hypothesis) ("Surface" 225).

Brooke-Rose divides surface structures into "Surface Structure A (SS.A.)" and Surface Structure B (SS.B)."

The former is "the presentation of events," while the latter is

the sequences of words we read....In other words, what used to be called `structure' and `texture' would be two different levels of the surface structure. The `abstract structure' or abstract formula would then be what some would call the `deep structure', and what I prefer to call the underlying or bare structure ("Surface" 189-190).

Although both fabulas are contained in the "bare structure" and in the SS.A. as it is "framed" by the "mirror structure," the actual ambiguity--the Todorovian "hesitation" (Rimmon 118) between natural and supernatural interpretations--occurs, says Brooke-Rose, in the interaction between SS.B. and SS.A--in linguistic ambiguities in the presentations of the I-narrator, Douglas, and the governess. We cannot here present a thorough restatement of Brooke-Rose's position, but we will summarize some representative findings exemplifying the type of approach which characterizes her analysis.

In her first article Brooke-Rose had suggested that the tale involves the reader in itself in a way analogous to the effect of a contagious neurosis. In her final article, drawing on the theories of Russian linguist Boris Uspensky, she attempts to demonstrate how, in the tale,

a special world is presented to us, with its own space and time, ideological system and systems of behaviour, to which we are, in our first perception of it, in the position of an external spectator, but into which we enter, accustoming ourselves to it, and gradually perceiving it from within, assuming a point of view internal to the work ("Surface" 191).

Uspensky, in a passage quoted by Brooke-Rose, had asserted that this "transition" is effected by

a definite alternation between description structured from within and description structured from without and the transitions between them (qtd. in Brooke-Rose "Surface" 191).

One of the most important of these "alternations," according to Brooke-Rose, is that between "text"--direct statements--and "metatext"--"which indirectly tells the things the narrator does not state directly" ("Surface" 191). Another is the distinction between "narrator's metatext (NM)" and "author's metatext (AM)." "Since the two metatexts share, on the whole, the same elements, there will be instances when it is not easy to decide whether the metatext is AM or NM" ("Surface" 191). Related to "metatext" are other instances of "metalanguage"--for example, "direct comment," which

occurs whenever the narrator tells us something about himself/herself which, in a third-person narrative, would be said by the author or another narrator....In narrative this metalanguage is usually an ideological or at any rate moral judgment, made by the narrator upon him/herself as character: in doing so I was selfish, brave, mad, etc. It is, of course, denotated, and as such part of the narrative which tells of a selfish/brave/ mad person, but inevitably also implies a certain distance, not merely of the character with regard to him/herself at the time (synchronic) but of the author later in time (retrospective), who `knows' (fictionally) how it all developed and whose judgment is in theory (and fictionally) more objective but who also, and this is important, rehandles his or her material in the light of that judgment, just as an author does. Thus, there are two levels: internal to the fiction (at the time) and external (later) ("Surface" 196).

Another "alternation" is the distinction between "statement and...utterance...a distinct difference between sentences that state and sentences that qualify" ("Surface" 209).

The following are a few examples of Brooke-Rose's observations about linguistic surface structures in The Turn of the Screw.

Author's metatext, says Brooke-Rose, reveals, in the first chapter of the governess's narrative, the governess's "tendency to exteriorization"--by virtue of the fact that she employs "impersonal constructions for notions, perceptions, and feelings: `There came to me thus a bewilderment of vision'" (193). Similarly, in the governess's statement "`I found all my doubts bristle again,'" Brooke-Rose detects an authorial metatextual implication that, for the governess, "doubts are autonomous, animate, and animal" (193). "She projects her own impressions," says Brooke-Rose, in the following statement: "`She was the most beautiful child I had ever seen, and I afterwards wondered why my employer hadn't made more of a point to me of this'....Why should he?" asks Brooke-Rose ("Surface" 193). Similar metatextual statements occur in the following instances:

Noun and verb phrases emphasize a split personality: `Agitation...had held me and driven me';...her possessiveness is an occasional possessive slightly out of place: `my document'...for the letter from the headmaster to the employer, `my children'...`my boy'...the use of give, offer, take, have, bring out, put before, for `tell'...which suggests that she regards information as a possession, an object: `the truth as I gave it to her...'; and a tendency to fuse the other with herself in an occasional odd use of we or our for I or my or even the: `our distance' [between Quint and herself...]...`in our prodigious experience' [her and Mrs. Grose's, but in fact hers...]...`for recurrence [of ghosts] we took for granted'...`what it was least possible to get rid of was the cruel idea that, whatever I had seen, Miles and Flora saw more....Such things naturally left on the surface...a chill that we felt, and we had all three, with repetition, got into such splendid training that we went, each time, to mark the close of the incident, almost automatically through the very same movements' [it is her assumption that they see, or feel, anything, or indirectly deny it with `loud demonstrations'] ("Surface" 194-195).

This "tendency to exteriorize inner feelings," says Brooke-Rose, is "obviously important in both hypotheses--ghosts or hallucinations..." ("Surface" 192).

"Direct comment" is a form of "narrator's metatext." This occurs sometimes in conjunction with "narrative instance"--in which "the narrator speaks in the present tense as she relates" ("Surface" 196). Direct comment is "internal to the fiction" because it describes the narrator's reactions "at the time"; "narrative instance," on the other hand, is "external" since it denotes a "later" reaction--what the governess thinks as she is writing, not what she thought while she was at Bly. Brooke-Rose lists a number of examples of such combinations:

In chapter 1, for instance, there is the night sound `I fancied I heard....But these fancies were not marked enough not to be thrown off, and it is only in the light, or the gloom, I should rather say, of other and subsequent matters that they now come back to me'....This tells us, on the first level, that she was fancying sounds, and on the second (still NM), what the AM had already implied, that she is fanciful. The additional fact that it is immediately followed by narrative instance (the narrator speaking in the present tense, as she narrates...) further marks the distinction. The chapter also ends with her fancy of Bly as a castle of romance and then as a great drifting ship....Even when a narrator adds an adverb to his way of acting or speaking (as an author would), we have the two levels: `offering it, on the spot, sarcastically'. ...She is being sarcastic/she can be sarcastic ("Surface" 196).

Similarly, we are told that the housekeeper

`addressed her greatest solicitude to the sad case presented by their deputy guardian'.... This denotes what it says (she is a sad case) but also says `look how objective I am being'. And we may also see an AM on split personality ("Surface" 197).

The governess's account is also, according to Brooke-Rose, replete with "indirect comment," which "occurs when the narrator describes his or her behaviour but without comment (the reader then judges)" ("Surface" 202). "The most obvious examples," says Brooke-Rose,

are straight descriptions of her own behaviour, such as over-reaction, especially with regard to the children, who are not only described in extravagant terms...but who also cause her to behave extravagantly, even at first, when, after receipt of the letter and her questions to Mrs. Grose, Flora appears....The governess turns and...`catching my pupil in my arms, covered her with kisses in which there was a sob of atonement'....We only have to put ourselves in Flora's position to know (if we were in doubt) that it is over-reaction. There is no direct comment, yet the phrases `covered her with kisses' and `a sob of atonement' show that the narrator is conscious of over-reaction for the circumstances. In a third-person narrative it would be AM (or NM with another narrator). Later this consciousness is expressed in direct comment: `moments when I knew myself to catch them up by an irresistible impulse and press them to my heart. As soon as I had done so I used to wonder--"What will they think of that? Doesn't it betray too much?"'...Of course, by then, all is more contextualized and one could argue that in the light of her beliefs she does not over-react, or that if the children are guilty, she doesn't, if they are innocent she does, from their viewpoint. ...And her reaction to Flora's first escapade hovers between indirect and direct comment: `I must have [n.i.] gripped my little girl with a spasm that, wonderfully, she submitted to without a cry or a sign of fright' ("Surface" 202).

Brooke-Rose also provides numerous examples of mingling statement and utterance, including "terms of certitude" which,

when expressed personally, tend to metatextualize their opposite: ...`able to asseverate to my friend that I was certain...that I least had not betrayed myself'; `I felt an instant certainty that Flora had extinguished it'; `It was not, I am as sure to-day as I was sure then, my mere infernal imagination'; `it was absolutely traceable that they were aware of my predicament'... ("Surface" 210-211).

"Equally metatextual," says Brooke-Rose, are her apparent lies and "the instances of pseudo-logic and her curious use of the word `proof', which are more frequent and more insidious than the more obviously hysterical terms of certitude" ("Surface" 211). These, of course, are compatible also with an apparitionist interpretation --she could be intuiting mediumistically rather than engaging in faulty inductive reasoning.

Brooke-Rose's brilliant analysis of the complex linguistic genesis of The Turn of the Screw's all-pervasive ambiguity should lay to rest interpretations which trace the ambiguity to authorial incompetence or carelessness--e.g., the interpretation of Samuels. However, such linguistically based criticism is still in its infancy, so much more work needs to be done along these lines. I am sure, for example--given the multiplicity of insightful and well-argued interpretations presented during the course of this dissertation--that there are more than two fabulas implicit in this sjuzvhet. There may, for example, be real ghosts, but the evil spirits may be appearing to the governess rather than to the children. Or she may be in unconscious collaboration with the ghosts. Her phrase--"some sequel to what we had done to Flora"--in the last chapter of her narrative may represent a fusion of her identity with the identities of ghosts, as West suggests in "The Death of Miles in `The Turn of the Screw.'" Or the governess's narrative may be an allegorical communication to Douglas, as Holloway suggests. It remains to be seen whether such linguistically based criticism can ever account for all the possible fabula or even specify a finite number of valid interpretations.

Shlomith Rimmon narrows the term "narrative ambiguity" to "the co-existence of mutually exclusive fabulas in one sjuzvet, a `constructional homonymity' whereby the same surface sjuzvet derives from exclusively disjunctive fabulas" (41). She finds The Turn of the Screw encompassed within this definition because of its mutually exclusive fabulas exemplified, respectively, in apparitionist and non-apparationist interpretations.

Rimmon draws on logic, as well as linguistics, in her discussion of narratives loosely termed "ambiguous" but not fitting her narrow definition of "ambiguity." In an "ambiguous" text--as Rimmon defines it--the reader is confronted with two interpretations, which "cannot both be true and...cannot both be false"--in other words two "contradictories"--as distinguished from, for example, "contraries," which

cannot both be true, though they might both be false....The statements `All judges are lawyers' and `Some judges are not lawyers' are contradictories because they cannot both be true and they cannot both be false. On the other hand, the statements `All poets are idlers' and `No poets are idlers' are contraries because although they cannot both be true, they can both be false.... Contradictories are both mutually exclusive and exhaustive, while contraries are mutually exclusive but not exhaustive... (7-8).


there is in the case of ambiguity equal evidence for the truth and falsity of both a and b. We cannot decide whether a or b is the true proposition and, consequently, which of the two is the false one. Both possibilities thus remain equitenable and copresent (8-9).

It is easy to see that The Turn of the Screw fits the above definition of an ambiguous narrative:

...(a), It is a story about evil children who secretly communicate with the ghosts of two corrupt servants but whose souls are saved by the courageous governess who fights the ghosts off (major statement: `The children communicate with ghosts' or `There are real ghosts at Bly'); (b), It is a story about a mad governess who has hallucinations and who destroys the children by subjecting them to her hysterical vagaries about ghosts which they have never seen (major statement: `The children do not communicate with ghosts' or `There are no ghosts at Bly'). Proposition a, `There are real ghosts at Bly,' and proposition b, `There are no real ghosts at Bly,' are clearly mutually exclusive, and yet they can both be equally supported by evidence from the text (10).

The Turn of the Screw, then, like all genuinely ambiguous narratives, is an "impossible situation"--analogous to pictures studied by Gombrich in which

a slight shift of perspective can turn a rabbit into a duck, an urn into two profiles, a group of white birds flying in one direction into a group of black birds flying in the other (ix).

These pictures are

impossible objects...because they keep our `imitative faculty' constantly busy... impossible also (and this is the cause of the former difficulty) because they are outside the range of our experience....In reality, rabbits do not look like ducks, not even with the subtlest shift of perspective. Nor do the spaces between white birds create the shape of black birds (xi).

Similarly, upon encountering a genuinely ambiguous narrative, we experience an unresolvable "tension... between the impulse to choose and the arrest of that impulse by the realization of the equitenability of mutual exclusives" (9)--knowing that,

in an analogous life-situation, we would have to choose between the two alternatives, logic instructing us that only one member of an exclusive disjunction is true and the other is false (8).

Rimmon seeks to explain how ambiguous narratives--among them The Turn of the Screw--engender this unresolvable "tension" in the reader, just as Gombrich sought to explain how ambiguous pictures such as Escher's "Night and Day" cause the mind to vacillate between two interpretations with no possibility of resolution. The ambiguity is engendered in both cases by "the omission of unequivocal information" and "the supply of conflicting cues" (x). Therefore, in order to explain the ambiguity of The Turn of the Screw, the critic will need to specify the "central permanent gap" (126) in the sjuzvet's information and the "mutually exclusive systems of clues designed to fill it in" (126). However, Rimmon cautions us that--in an ambiguous narrative, as in an ambiguous picture of the kind studied by Gombrich--

it will be wrong to think that...every element yields itself to a double interpretation. Some elements do, like the duck's beak which transforms itself into the rabbit's ears. Other elements serve only one reading and escape notice in the opposite interpretation. This is the case of the mouth-spot, prominent when we read rabbit, neglected when we focus on the duck. As long as the number of such `singly directed' points is equal for both interpretations, the two remain equally tenable (x).

The "conflicting" and "ambiguous" textual evidence Rimmon cites has been thoroughly discussed in the course of this dissertation, and we will not here rehash the old familiar arguments. We will point out, however, the most interesting features of Rimmon's analysis.

The "central gap"--the lack of any objective confirmation or disconfirmation of the governess's central thesis, that the children are communing with the ghosts--is expressed in a series of "ancillary or local gaps" (128)--questions such as the contents of the headmaster's letter and whether or not Flora saw Miss Jessel when the latter appeared for the first time on the other side of the lake. This leads the reader to see a series of ambiguous "episodes," which he attempts to solve one by one, rather than the overall pattern of unresolvable ambiguity. Part of the explanation for this is the relationship between "proairetic" and "hermeneutic" codes in the novella--the former being "the code in charge of sequences of actions," the latter "the one which regulates the formulation, delay, and solution of enigmas" (120). Unlike "the ambiguity of `The Lesson of the Master,'" which is "perceptible only in retrospect" (120), and that of "The Figure in the Carpet," which "is perceptible from an early stage of the narrative" (121), the ambiguity of The Turn of the Screw only begins to be perceptible in chapter six, but this perception leads to a retrospective awareness of earlier ambiguity. For example, the reader has been led by the prologue to accept the governess's account--but, in retrospect, Douglas's recommendation may not be trustworthy since he was in love with the governess and knew her only ten years after the events at Bly. Rimmon demonstrates how, in episode after episode, "singly directed clues" (129) supporting contradictory readings alternate successively in "an insoluble clash" (133). Both the governess's and Mrs. Grose's "wavering" sometimes occur successively in the same episode, but contradictory interpretations by each character are also "scattered throughout the narrative" (134).

In her discussion of the reader's apperception of ambiguity in "doubly directed clues," Rimmon points to

an interesting circularity in the perception of ambiguity (as of many other governing principles of literature): on the one hand, it is the details that give rise to the ambiguity and on the other hand, a recognition of the ambiguity is almost a prerequisite for the perception of many more ambiguous details (143).

Rimmon makes an interesting distinction between three types of "psychological clues." She defines a "psychological clue" as "one that indicates a possible explanation of the motives underlying a character's statement of behavior." She then lists "three different ways" in which "such clues become doubly directed":

(1) The governess gives a `twist' to a statement, act, or look that the reader is otherwise likely to take at face value....(2) The reader gives a `twist' to the governess's statement or explanation in a context which again makes both possibilities equally tenable. (3) The reader himself infers from the micro-and macro-text two opposed explanations of an unexplained statement or act. The first two categories are akin to each other, the difference being mainly in perception-direction, depending on whether a straightforward explanation is implicit in the description itself and is then felt to `twisted' by the governess, or whether the reader is first aware of a `twisted' explanation and then supplies the commonsense possibility (138-139).

In her discussion of "linguistic" clues, Rimmon makes largely the same types of points made by Muriel West in "The Death of Miles in The Turn of the Screw"--citing unclear pronoun references, as well as "elliptical, vague, or indeterminate constructions" (154-155). Interestingly, however, Rimmon also makes use of a central difference between spoken and written communication--citing, for example,

the ambiguity of tone...created by the omission of 'stage directions' concerning the manner in which statements are uttered. Take, for example, the first conversation between the governess and Mrs. Grose about the stranger....There is no indication of the tone in which Mrs. Grose replies, and the wording of her answers as well as the framework of the situation admit of opposed tonal realizations. `I couldn't have come out' may express either admiration for the governess's courage or disapproval of her rashness (159).

Rimmon's study is an outstanding example of structuralist criticism, drawing on formal logic as well as scientific linguistics. The main weakness in her study, as in Brooke-Rose-s study, is the assumption of only two fabulas in the sjuzvhet. The multiplicity of well argued interpretations would seem to suggest that the work is even more ambiguous than Rimmon realizes.

3. Reader-Response Criticism Employing Archetypal Analysis: Hallab

Like many other critics--Heilman, West, Firebaugh, Grunes, Fryer, and Voegelin, for example--Mary Y. Hallab discerned a plethora of archetypal figures and themes in the novella. Citing James's references to fairy tales in the Preface to Volume 12 of the New York Edition, Hallab points out how fairies, ghosts, demons, witches, and other such beings frequently merge in the popular imagination. Hallab reminds us also of the narrative "frame which sets [the story] off from everyday experience" and language reminiscent of fairy tales--for instance, the description of Bly as "`a castle of romance inhabited by a rosy sprite'" (494).

Hallab points out numerous patterns in the novella which are found frequently in fairy tales: "...fairies, elves, witches, or revenants steal or try to steal children and carry them off..."; "...the elfin kidnappers...lurk in and around the house...Miss Jessel appears on a lake, a well-known entrance to fairyland..."; "...continual kissing or embracing of the children" is "a traditional method of effecting the disenchantment of an enchanted person"; "...the children come more and more under the influence of the ghosts..." in accordance with "the changeling tradition"; "taboos against naming supernatural figures...are common"; "the bewitched do not survive the breaking of the enchantment" (495-496).

Drawing on anthropological scholarship, Hallab relates these tales--and The Turn of the Screw--to more deeply rooted archetypes, such as "the memory of ancient vegetation cults" and

rituals of sacrifice to the vegetation god....The desire of the ghosts for the children parallels such myths as that of the kidnapping of Persephone by Pluto and the death of youthful gods such as Adonis, Osiris, and Dionysus. Flora, as her name indicates, corresponds to the maiden, daughter to the Earth Mother, Demeter, and the Sky-God, Zeus, who is abducted by the god of the dead while picking flowers. Miss Jessel is Persephone in her aspect of goddess of the underworld--dark, terrible, tragic. Miles, who has `something divine' about him, and Quint are their masculine counterparts. Mrs. Grose and the uncle also occupy archetypal roles. She is the Earth Mother, warm, protective, accepting. He is a kind of Sky-God, remote, idealized, demanding. They are the `good' or `ideal' counterparts of the `low' and `evil' Quint and Jessel (498).

Hallab highlights these parallels not to make philosophical points--about feminism, for example, as does Fryer, or about religion, as do Voegelin, Heilman, or Firebaugh, or about human conflicts as does Grunes--but to explain the story's powerful effect on the reader. The archetypal analysis is subordinated to reader-response analysis. The

archetypal this story has universal appeal because it has its origin in the human soul; it corresponds to and fulfills certain needs of each individual reader. The pattern of initiation and rebirth is an experience common to all; almost all cultures celebrate the transition from childhood to adulthood with some sort of initiation ceremony suggesting rebirth into a new life. But any change of attitude at any period of life might be experienced by the individual as a rebirth. On this level, The Turn of the Screw can be seen as the working out of a personal experience, a conflict within the individual psyche (499).

Hallab suggests that

the governess bridges the gap between the tale and the reader, functioning on one level as the `real' person involved with the Other World. Yet, on another level, she is one with the other figures, part of the pattern. She is the initiate who participates in the death of the vegetation god (even helping it along) in order to experience a rebirth, at the same time resisting the event, mourning the loss (498).

Hallab's identification of the governess as the "real" person who, nevertheless, undergoes the experience of death and rebirth, along with her contention that the reader responds to these events because of their applicability to his own context, seems to suggest that the reader is led to identify with the governess because of the structure of the text. In this respect Hallab's approach is similar to that of reader-response critics such as Felman, Obuchowski, and MacNaughton discussed in the preceding section of this chapter. However, the governess, in Hallab's view, is paired with Douglas, her masculine counterpart, who is probably Miles. Each undergoes a metamorphosis as the events unfold--Miles becomes "a charming narrator, Douglas,"--and the governess becomes the mature woman who is praised in the prologue. In each case, therefore, "a mature, integrated personality is suggested, though not achieved in the story proper" (502)--the narrative, that is, of the events at Bly. While "Douglas and the governess are in the tale...a part of the pattern," Hallab says,

one person...stands completely outside, between the story and the reader; this is the first narrator, the unidentified I, whose presence has generally been overlooked....he stands for the single psyche in which the conflict takes place....He is anonymous because he is the `self' or the whole....He contains the opposites: male and female, child and adult, witch and devil, god and goddess, conscious and unconscious, life and death. If the story is an image of anyone's mind, it is his (502).

Interestingly, some critics have assumed this narrator is male, while others have assumed she is female.

Quint and Jessel, Hallab says, stand for "the animus and anima, the negative side of the parent imago--the collective unconscious." The governess's rejection of these figures throughout the story, Hallab maintains,

suggests the pattern of a disintegrated personality in conflict with itself, yet striving toward what Jung calls individuation, toward a rebirth into a fully integrated personality in which all parts are balanced--child, man, god, and devil. To achieve this goal, the individual must sacrifice not only childish innocence but also the rigid insistence on the superiority of the conscious ego characteristic of the emerging personality. He must confront and come to terms with the archetypes of the collective, and irrational unconscious, recognizing them as an integral part of himself...the governess, the ego figure, finally achieves fulfillment by breaking her self-imposed taboo, by acknowledging and naming the ghosts. This active confrontation of the `dark side'--the anima and the animus--by the conscious implies the death of childhood. Thus, when the governess names the ghosts, Flora becomes hysterical and `disappears' from the story; Miles dies; at the same time the ghosts, too, vanish. The personality has experienced a kind of ritual death. The stage is set for a rebirth of a totally integrated personality in which conscious and unconscious, rational and irrational, are one (502).

Hallab seems to suggest that the reader's experience includes the unconscious intuition of the identity and eventual merging of Douglas with Miles and the "early" governess of Bly with the "late" (both the governess and Miles are dead when the first narrator relates the story) governess of the prologue. In this respect she is similar to Stepp, discussed in the preceding section of this chapter.

Although her main concern is to provide a Jungian analysis of the reader's response to the story, Hallab has, incidentally, offered some interesting speculation concerning the psychogenesis of the story in the author's unconscious. Citing Edel's observation that, during the nineties, James "suffered a crisis of depression and despair associated with his attempt and failure to be a successful playwright" (502), and noting his preoccupation both with ghosts and children during this period, Hallab suggests that "James, in these tales, took the first steps toward recovery" (503). Hallab recalls Jung's contention that

the child archetype represents potentiality; thus its appearance...anticipates a future change of personality, especially one in which conscious and unconscious elements are synthesized, in which opposites are united (503).

Thus, in Hallab's view, The Turn of the Screw arose from and reflects an interior struggle which the author, so his later canon suggests, successfully resolved.

James's concern with evil, with the perverse, with death, his seeming `regression' to a terrifying childhood, show his desire to face up to this other side and to come to terms with it. That he succeeded is evident in the changing quality of the archetypal experience which forms his tales, and in the change from youthful to adult protagonists. In such later novels as The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl, evil appears, not in the horrifying and inexorable form of ghosts, nor with the power and authority of the adult to the helpless child, but as ordinary and forgivable, petty human weakness--comprehensible, manageable, even at times pathetic. Merton Densher and Maggie Verver are not terrified or crushed by the experience of evil, but are able to accept it, deal with it rationally, and thus rise above it (504).

Hallab's article is an outstanding example of Jungian psychoanalytic criticism focusing primarily on the reader, secondarily on the author. She clearly and convincingly locates in the story "the timeless and universal patterns which have their prototype in primitive fable and myth" (492).

4. Allen: Narratology Employed to Support a Traditional Interpretation of the Plot

John J. Allen's article may be said to be a throwback to an earlier period. He is arguing, in the seventies, that the ghosts are real when most critics have either in some way synthesized the apparitionist and non-apparitionist interpretations or accepted the insoluble ambiguity of the story--perhaps, like Enck or Krook, finding some philosophical message in the irreducible ambiguity itself, but more often seeking to explain its effects on the reader or how it is embedded in the structure of the text.

And most of Allen's arguments are based on a traditional, formalist reading of the plot a la Goddard. Indeed, Allen seems to deprecate later, more "advanced" approaches, observing that "the history of its [the novella's] interpretation provides a lesson as to the way in which our theories draw us away from the examination of the text itself" (73). Allen argues that James intended to write a ghost story, citing the author's statement in the Preface concerning the governess's "authority" and arguing that this statement has been misinterpreted by Wilson and others, but bases his main arguments on the text itself. "This authority," he says, "cannot...simply be conferred on the governess by James; it must be established in the fiction" (74).

Most of the arguments Allen presents have been presented and debated many times and need not be discussed in detail yet again. They include but are not limited to the following: "the governess's description of Peter Quint, Flora's shocking language to Mrs. Grose, and Miles's final `surrender of the name'" (77)--as well as Flora's refusal to look across the lake when the governess announces the appearance of Miss Jessel, the candle going out in Miles's room, and Miles's identification of Quint at the story's end, after the child's "mood" has indicated, according to Allen, that he has not been briefed by Mrs. Grose and Flora.

Much more interestingly, however, Allen suggests that the narrative structure--in particular, the three-narrator "frame" of the novella--makes the governess's testimony credible. Allen suggests that the governess is given credibility by Douglas's good recommendation of her, as well as "the respect that he accords the manuscript...his reticence about the story," and the fact that "he does not divulge the governess's name" and that Douglas, in turn, is given authority by the first narrator, the anonymous guest--in particular, through "the incremental revelation of intimacy and affinity between the two men." In perhaps the weakest link in his argument, Allen suggests that this anonymous guest is to be identified with the author's persona and therefore carries the authority of the author.

Although the `I' of the narrative frame is of course a fictional character, this is only so because of the fictional situation; that is, he (the real James) wrote the governess's story. The `I' is the `real' James in fictional garb: he supplies the title within the frame, is perceptive, etc., and is an uninvolved observer. His judgments and perceptions are accepted by the reader as the real James's judgments and perceptions, though his knowledge is limited, and he can thus be legitimately designated the implied James (74).

This is a curious argument. Are the narrators of "The Black Cat" or "The Tell-Tale Heart" reliable because they constitute the implied Poe? Furthermore, Kevin Murphy has provocatively suggested that such agreements, between Douglas and the first narrator or between the governess and Mrs. Grose, "rather than assuring accuracy and definitiveness, produce the opposite effect" (548). All the characters have their biases--including the first guest, as Kevin Murphy has pointed out--and their agreements with one another may be shared misunderstandings or failures of communication. Moreover, as a number of critics--among them Stepp, Hallab, and Lind--have pointed out, the governess who receives Douglas's praise is a thirty-year-old woman, not the twenty-year-old governess at Bly. Nevertheless, Allen has performed a service in calling attention to this much neglected first narrator, whose narrative function and significance needs to be studied in more detail.

5. Formalities Study of Imagery in The Turn of the Screw: Bengels

Barbara Bengels, by a representative list of examples of imagery related to the word screw, has attempted to demonstrate how James "weaves most of the major strands of imagery into a seeming pun in the title itself" and how "in the word screw James virtually reveals every twist of the novella" (323). Bengels has not studied the imagery in order to ascertain the author's intentions regarding the interpretation of some aspect of the plot, like Dyson, or to argue for the recognition of a certain body of philosophical or theological content, like Heilman. Instead, Bengels has sought to study the pattern of imagery for its own sake--the way an art critic might study a complex pattern of shapes and colors in a painting--to understand "the way this one key image unifies...diverse strands of imagery into one complex fabric" (327). Through this fabric,

James has suggested the tortuous twists and subtle ambiguity with which his plot is fabricated.....the ultimate turn of the screw in the pressure he brings to bear on the reader himself (327).

Bengels recalls Douglas's suggestion that the presence of two children "`gives the effect of another turn of the screw'":

Here the implied usage would suggest the increase of tension in the story by the added complication of a second child (and perhaps, even more to the point of the story, the tension created by a second or more ambiguous reading) (323).

Bengels provides examples of imagery suggesting "the turning of screws to increase pressure, to extort information as in the medieval torture engines"--noting several instances in which the governess "pressed" Mrs. Grose or the latter responded to inquiries "under pressure" (323-324).

Bengels also calls attention to certain nineteenth century idioms :

By 1859, the expression `to screw up' meant `to choke or garrotte a person,' certainly supporting the thesis that the governess actually kills Miles in her attempt to wring from him a confession....One slang usage equates a screw with a jailer, perhaps because of its association with a skeleton key. Miles has hinted earlier in the story that the governess has kept him in too close confinement when he'd rather be off again to school and she, herself, has said, `I was like a gaoler with an eye to possible surprises and escapes.'... Again in Chapter 24 Peter Quint is compared to a `sentinel before a prison'...and while Miles is described as `being confined against his will'...the governess is no longer merely his jailer but `his judge, his executioner' (324).

The word screw, Bengels recalls, was also used to mean "the propeller of a boat," and this usage ties together a number of images--Bly as a ship with the governess "`strangely at the helm'"; Flora's "`boat building'" at the time of Miss Jessel's first appearance; the "`depths and possibilities that [the governess] lacked resolution to sound'"; Mrs. Grose's desire "`to sink the whole subject'"; the image of Miles, at the final confrontation, "`standing at the bottom of the sea and raising his eyes to some faint green twilight'"; Miles's possible innocence, which is "`confounding and bottomless'"; and her reference to her "`sick swim,'" which suggests that she is "a captain whose boat has sunk" (324-325).

There are, of course, the sexual implications of the word screw--the governess may kill Miles, at least partly, because of a sexual attraction for the boy and unrequited love for the employer. Finally, much imagery related to beasts and hunting is tied together by the word "spring," especially in the last chapter. Such imagery begins in the prologue when we are introduced to the employer, whose home is "`filled with trophies of the chase'" and continues to the end when the governess "`springs straight upon'" Miles. "As in a real hunt," Bengels reminds us, "it is sometimes difficult to separate the hunters from the hunted; the hounds and the prey sometimes merge in the underbrush" (326).

Bengels's essay is an excellent specimen of formalistic criticism. She is not, however, an extreme formalist. Unlike some formalist critics, Bengels is careful to consider words by the author in their historical context.

6. Conclusion to Chapter 6

We see in the seventies a continuation of several trends related to the influence of structuralism which were also present in the sixties: the tendency of many critics to concentrate more on technique and less on philosophical or thematic content in their analyses of the story, attempting in many cases to determine ways in which pervasive ambiguity had been engendered by the author--through a study of the novella's narrative techniques and the effects of such ambiguity on the reader's experience of the text; an increased awareness of the reader's "participation" in the story, as determined by the structures of the text; and an increasing tendency to view the world of literature as an isolated and self-referential universe--a tendency reflected in source studies, attempts to understand the novella by relating it to the totality of the Jamesian canon, and efforts to understand the work by relating it to works by other authors in the same or contiguous periods of literary history--without arguing that one work is the source of another.

Accordingly, Brenda Murphy, Wirth-Nesler, Merivale, Huntley, Felman, Kevin Murphy, MacNaughton, Obuchowski, Brooke-Rose, and Rimmon all considered the work inherently and unresolvably ambiguous. Kevin Murphy, MacNaughton, Obuchowski, Brooke-Rose, and Rimmon sought, in various ways, to understand the textual genesis of the ambiguity. Felman, Kevin Murphy, MacNaughton--employing reader-response psychoanalytic criticism--explained the ambiguity by postulating an implied reader forced by the text to repeat the mental operations of a non-omniscient character. Huntley employed psychoanalytic observations about the governess, as well as a survey of the Doppelganger motif in other literary works, to explain an ambiguous effect which Huntley was sure James intended. Brooke-Rose and Rimmon sought to explain the text's all-pervasive and insoluble ambiguity--the former through the application of scientific linguistics, the latter through the application of a combination of scientific linguistics and formal logic. Nesler and Merivale sought to locate the ambiguity within literary history by comparing the novella to other literary works. And Brenda Murphy used the novella's ambiguity, as reflected in the historical lack of critical agreement, to make points about epistemology, hermeneutics, and human communication.

Other critics, even though they offered "interpretations" of the story, were influenced by the prevailing critical trend toward acceptance of the work's ambiguous nature or syntheses of apparitionist and non-apparitionist positions in preference to the earlier tendency to argue for one position as exclusively correct. Thus, Holloway--by interpreting the governess's manuscript as an allegorical statement directed to Douglas rather than an account of real experiences at Bly--made the apparitionist/non-apparitionist controversy irrelevant. Stepp's Jungian reader-response approach did not even address the question of the exact nature of events at Bly.

Sheppard and Lind--by coming to opposite conclusions concerning the apparitionist/non-apparitionist controversy and basing their arguments on much of the same historical and biographical evidence--have, perhaps, unwittingly provided additional support for the position that the novella is inherently and unresolvably ambiguous. And Sheppard, Timms, and Edward Stone convincingly demolished arguments placing James on one side of the controversy--Sheppard and Timms the "revision" argument and Stone the "contextual" argument.

But, more importantly, the "interpretations" offered tended to be syntheses of various approaches, and, consequently, the interpretations were much richer than they would otherwise have been. Thus, Nardin, Mogen, Grunes, Briggs, and Fryer integrated sociological insights into Freudian or Jungian readings. Indeed, one of the most important patterns in the seventies is the continuation of the trend--already prominently in force during the sixties--toward a greater appreciation of the sociological dimensions of the story, including its Marxist and feminist dimensions.

In addition to the above broadening and deepening of understanding through syntheses of various approaches, the structuralist influence had three major consequences. The first was an increase in psychoanalytic reader-response criticism during this period. Felman's study was perhaps the most thorough synthesis of structuralism and Lacanian reader-response criticism in the history of Turn of the Screw criticism. Kevin Murphy, MacNaughton, Obuchowski, and Brooke-Rose, in similar approaches, argued that the structure of the text forces the reader to repeat the mental operations of the governess--with Brooke-Rose, perhaps most interestingly, attempting to demonstrate how the novella's linguistic structures make its effects similar to those of a "contagious neurosis" ("`Turn' and Critics" 156). Huntley psychoanalyzed the governess's projections in order to explain the reader's response to the text. Stepp linked the ambiguous fusing of the identities of Miles and Douglas to explain the effect on the reader. Hallab also employed Jungian concepts to account for the reader's apperception of a new integration of previously repressed and conflicting archetypes and the attendant deep response to the novella. Grunes and Nardin also sought to explain the reader's response to the story--the former by examining the response to the "possessed child" motif, the latter by examining the reader's recognition of an impossibly constricted sociological situation.

Another major consequence was an increased interest in explaining the ambiguity linguistically. Brooke-Rose's and Rimmon's studies were outstanding examples of this type of criticism, but they were pioneering efforts; much along these lines remains to be done.

Finally, of course, during this period we see a continuation of the tendency to view the world of literature as an isolated and self-referential universe. This is reflected in the source studies--Sheppard's (the most substantial), Purton's, Ryburn's, Tintner's, and Duthie's. It is also seen in the attempts of critics such as Voegelin, Wirth-Nesler, and Merivale to understand the novella through comparisons with other literary works without suggesting that the other works are sources for The Turn of the Screw or that The Turn of the Screw is a source for the other works. Lastly, many critics during this period sought to understand the novella by viewing it in the context of other Jamesian works--Sheppard, Huntley, Dyson, Voegelin--to cite a few examples.

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