One of the most crucial characters in the novella, The Turn of the Screw, is the Governess. The unnamed young woman is the daughter of a poor country parson and was brought up with a strict Christian upbringing; this is roughly the only clear description the reader is given about the Governess. Extra information on the Governess is left to be perceived by the reader from the ideas that could be suggested in the novella. There is a large focus on the Governess’ affection and love for the family that could be depicted from the novella, as well as wild thoughts and fantasies, both good and bad.
Firstly, the Governess narrates many of her thoughts through fairytale type imagery, especially in the first three chapters of the novella. When the Governess first meets her boss, the Uncle of the children she is to look after, she describes him as a “prospective patron” who “proved a gentleman, a bachelor in the prime of life, such a figure as had never risen, save in a dream or an old novel, before a fluttered anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicarage.” She is describing this man as something she had never seen before, as if nobody in his league had ever crossed eyes with her, so it is obvious that she is fantasising about him from the start. She then goes on to say that he has “charming ways with women” which is quite a bold statement to make considering she has just met him. It is clear that this is her dream man and she is almost idolising him and therefore making assumptions based on what she’d want him to be like. Her job role as a Governess is then described in a dream-like manner. Traditionally, the role of a Governess is not a wonderful job to have as you can suffer from rejection from the children you are to care for, and the other members of staff in the house; however for the Governess in this circumstance it was perfect for her as she was in control and is the mistress of the house. After her first night in the job she states she “slept little that night – I was too much excited” which suggests she is already thinking very highly of the job and couldn’t wait to properly get started. As the fictional comments continue, it is clear that more of these statements will be prominent throughout the rest of the novella.
The Governess seems to have formed a strong love immediately for the family, without even getting to know them. When she begins the job, her first encounter is with Flora, the youngest child. Her first description of Flora is “a creature too charming”. She then goes on the state that “she was the most beautiful child I had ever seen”. This is a broad statement to make although the Governess seems certain that this is true as she then decides “it was a comfort that there could be no uneasiness in the connexion with anything so beatific as the radiant image of my little girl”. Not only does the Governess describe Flora as “beatific”, which suggests she is almost saintly, but she then goes on to refer to her as “my little girl”. The Governess had been in the job for no more than a day and already granted herself possessive ownership over Flora. This is an extremely strong affection for the little girl, and suggests that she is almost acting as a mother to her. The Governess then meets Miles, who is sent home from boarding school, and says he is “incredibly beautiful” and declares that “everything but a sort of passion of tenderness for him was swept away by his presence.” The use of the words “passion” and “tenderness” holds sexual connotations which could illustrate that she has some sort of deep fantasy for the children and has surely become obsessed. This is similar to the way that she took a keen liking to their Uncle, whom she had met once yet romanticises about him throughout the first few chapters of the novella, as spoken of in the previous point stated.
As the Governess makes herself more known as the narrator and reveals…