Sexual Repression in Turn of the Screw Essay

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Pages: 4

The Victorian Age was a time of moral behavior and ideas. Sexuality had no place with the norms and mores of society, yet as it is part of human nature, it continued to exist. With sex being a topic so repressed during the period, people took anything not specified in sexual connotations. Realizing this, the authors of the time used this to their advantage and laid a heavy underlying sexual atmosphere as a basis for their stories. Henry James does just that in his Turn of the Screw. Though never directly stating so, his main character suffers from sexual repression that came along with her position in the Victorian age and eventually acts upon it, while the ghosts in the story then serve as protection for the children she acts out …show more content…
Grose. Grose and the governess are talking before Miles arrival:

"…I hope her youth and her beauty helped her!" I recollect throwing off. "He seems to like us young and pretty!" "Oh, he did," Mrs. Grose assented: "it was the way he liked everyone!" p.12

The two were discussing Miles at the time and this comment clearly implies that Miles has a definite preference over the type of governess that works at the home. Throughout the story, her sexual desires manifest into some type of obsession with the little boy. The ghost of the boys former friend, Quint, now serves as his protector just like Jessel did for Flora. He peers in the windows and paces the towers at night as a sort of watchdog to keep the governess from taking action. The governess's attachment wins in the end as James writes, "They are in my ears still, his supreme surrender of the name and his tribute to my devotion. ‘What does he matter now, my own? –what will be ever matter? I have you,' I launched at the beast, "but he has lost you forever!" (p. 86-7). The ghost of Quint is unable to protect the little boy, who dies in the end as a result of the current governess. James's Turn of the Screw can be interpreted several different ways. If the ghosts are seen as evil, then it appears as if they are the one who engaged in sexual relationships with the children and the governess is their protector. However, if the roles are flip, the