Mrs Grose plays the role of a literate servant at Bly whose character adds another layer of doubt to the story because she does not see the ghosts. I think because she adds to the ambiguity of the novel and therefore making her character a necessary addition to the story. However, it could be argued that she is just a dim whited old lady who adds little significance to the book because of her lack of understanding of the situation occurring at Bly.
Firstly, Mrs. Grose clearly represents the stereotypical social status women alike during the time that the book was written. When the governess receives the letter from Miles' school declaring his explosion, she hands the letter to Mrs. Grose who replies; 'These things are not for me miss' implying that she cannot read. This was a common trait amongst lower class women of her generation because education was not seen as important for females and a privilege that only men could take advantage of. Instead, women were expected to learn how to become an eligible wife by becoming skilled in areas such as the arts taught by a governess, whilst the men were sent to boarding school. The fact that Mrs. Grose cannot read directly empowers the governess because she has control over the situation as she is clearly from a more educated background. This view corresponds with the critic Edmund Wilson who claims that this particular point in the novel is 'shifting power to the governess' this ' authority enables her to put over on inferiors even purposes which are totally mistaken and not at all to the other people's best interests.' Although the governess will happily exploit the class difference between herself and the master and even to an extent with Mrs. Grose to gather information about Quint and Jessel, she is quick to criticize the pair for their interclass relationship. She claims that 'he is so dreadfully below her', reiterating the invisible class boundaries that made such situations frowned upon by wider society.
Without Mrs. Grose's presence, the governess would have never acquired any information about Quint and Jessel. As well as assisting with the development of the plot, she is also a motherly figure to the governess and someone to turn to for advice. We see a particularly close moment between the governess and Mrs. Grose when 'she took me to her motherly breast'. She has a lot more life experience than the governess, especially with the children and is often there for her when she needs someone to consolidate. In a sense, Mrs. Grose is a neutral character that adds a referencing point of sanity to the story. She is the only character that is not questionably corrupt or ambiguous in character, although the critic Eric Solomon claims that 'the culprit is Mrs. Grose' who is masterminding the whole situation. However, there is insufficient evidence for this, the only reference point in the book is when the governess mentions that 'it was surely with the minimum of grossness.' Apart from this brief moment, Henry James implies no other