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Innocence Vs Evil In The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James


Innocence Vs Evil In The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James is a novella. The author was and remains famous for his ability to write fiction which closely imitates life. That being said his novella is actually one of the most popular ghost stories of the 18th century.

This novella is told from a narrative perspective. In it the narrator recalls a ghost story that he heard read aloud once. The story that the narrator is recounting was written from the perspective of a governess to whom the story actually happened. The governess was hired by a well off bachelor to look out for his niece and his nephew. But as soon as the governess arrives at the home she begins to see ghosts. She tells the made that she is seeing ghosts who informs her that there are in fact ghosts and they are the two former employees of the estate. The male ghost was a former employee who was seduced by the previous governess. The former employee allegedly spent too much time alone with the nephew before he died. The female ghost is that of the previous governess.

Soon the governess begins to believe that the two children can see the ghosts but are refusing to acknowledge it. She becomes afraid for the children when the ghosts make appearances inside of the house. But the uncle had requested not to be contacted and so the governess does not write to him.

Sightings of ghosts continue and the governess decides to write to the uncle after all. But before the letter she has written reaches the uncle it is stolen. The niece becomes ill and the maid must take her away. This leaves the governess with the nephew. The nephew admits that he stole the letter written for their uncle. At once the governess looks out the window to see one of the ghosts. The nephew states the name of the ghost which the governess sees as indication that he has seen the ghost as well. As the nephew looks out the window the ghost dies instantly as though from fright.

This novella’s main theme is that of good versus evil. Some of the characters are distinctly good while others are distinctly evil. Behavioral problems with the niece and nephew are all traced to a bad influence from evil adults. The final scene is one of the most ambiguous in the novella and yet perhaps one of the most telling too.