Starting from the assumption that The Turn of the Screw is at once both a ghost story, replete with supernatural apparitions, suspense, and unresolved mysteries, as well as a psychological study, I argue that this novella raises, among other things, uncomfortable fantasies about parental neglect and child suffering. This essay focuses in particular on Miles and Flora’s uncle and on the selfish, unnatural, and even sadistc nature of the condition he imposes on the young governess: the fact that under no circumstances, even under the most serious ones, she is to bother him with communications of any sort. An injunction which inevitably entails a dynamics of dominance and submission, control and subjection, hence the presence of a victim. By comparing The Turn of the Screw with both “The Pupil”, James’s illustration of the psychological governess’s situation and uncertain social status in a male version, as neither a servant nor a member of the family, and Jane Eyre, this poignant and haunting tale may be viewed not so much as a psychological study of hysteria, but as the dramatization of other, equally perturbing extratextual experiences of vulnerability and isolation, abandonment and rejection which stemmed to a large extent from James’s own biography.

The Gentleman in Harley Street: Parental Neglect and Child Suffering in The Turn of the Screw

M. Vanon Alliata
2012

Abstract

Starting from the assumption that The Turn of the Screw is at once both a ghost story, replete with supernatural apparitions, suspense, and unresolved mysteries, as well as a psychological study, I argue that this novella raises, among other things, uncomfortable fantasies about parental neglect and child suffering. This essay focuses in particular on Miles and Flora’s uncle and on the selfish, unnatural, and even sadistc nature of the condition he imposes on the young governess: the fact that under no circumstances, even under the most serious ones, she is to bother him with communications of any sort. An injunction which inevitably entails a dynamics of dominance and submission, control and subjection, hence the presence of a victim. By comparing The Turn of the Screw with both “The Pupil”, James’s illustration of the psychological governess’s situation and uncertain social status in a male version, as neither a servant nor a member of the family, and Jane Eyre, this poignant and haunting tale may be viewed not so much as a psychological study of hysteria, but as the dramatization of other, equally perturbing extratextual experiences of vulnerability and isolation, abandonment and rejection which stemmed to a large extent from James’s own biography.
A Rosella Saggi in onore di Rosella Mamoli Zorzi
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/36093
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