The Turn of the Screw


Author:  Henry James

Title:  The Turn of the Screw

Genre:  Horror

Publication Date:  1898

Number of Pages:  87

Geographical Setting:  Essex

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  This story is told by an unknown narrator, which only adds to the eeriness of the tale.  It tells the story of a governess who has undertaken the task of caring for a young boy and girl (as their parents have passed away) on a large estate while their uncle is away.  The boy, Miles, has been expelled from school for reasons that are never disclosed to the reader.  That lack of certainty is carried out throughout the tale and it is that aspect that makes this such a chilling read.  The housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, tells the governess all she needs to know about caring for the children.  She does not, however, make her aware of Miss Jessel and her lover, Peter Quint, whom the governess sees around the grounds.  The governess begins to suspect that they are ghosts, and she learns that they died under suspicious circumstances.  She also suspects that the children are aware of the ghosts as well, though they refuse to admit it.

Subject Headings:  Essex; London; Ghosts; Orphans; Secrets

Appeal:  Complex, unknowing, densely written, stately, closely observed, family-centered, linear, detailed setting, rural, chilling, claustrophobic, dark, foreboding, psychological, austere, stark

3 terms that best describe this book:  Unknowing, Muted, Dark

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

“Henry James:  A Life” by Leon Edel.  A biography depicting the life of the writer is always a great supplement to analyzing a work.

“Essex:  The Buildings of England” by James Bettley.  This modernized guide will teach all about the gothic architecture of the setting of James’ novel.

“Our Haunted Life:  True Life Ghost Encounters” by Jeff Belanger.  Whether or not the reader believes in ghosts and the afterlife, tales of haunting are always unsettling.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson.  Another tale full of subtle, psychological twists, the ghosts and foreboding estate are similar to “Turn of the Screw”.

“Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte.  This dark tale of passionate forbidden love with tragedy in the ending is like that of the love between Miss Jessel and Peter Quint.

“Grave’s End” by Elaine Mercado.  This tale of haunting makes the stretch of what might happen if a ghost or spirit took to violent actions.

Name:  Melissa


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