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MonkeyNotes-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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Chapter 4

Summary

Even after the figure disappears, the governess remains rooted to the spot, lost in contemplation. She believes that Bly has a hidden secret as mentioned in the ‘Udolpho mysteries.’ Dwelling on such thoughts she loses count of time and it is dark when she enters the house. Mrs. Grose looks relieved on seeing her. She gives some excuse for being late but does not mention the apparition to the housekeeper.

For days after the incident, the vision continues to haunt the lady. She keeps dwelling on it and comes to the conclusion that, someone has tried to play a cruel joke on her and that the apparition has not appeared again, because the man must have got scared. Setting her thoughts aside, she starts attending to the children and their work and is happy to find them cheerful and responsive to her commands. Flora is adorable and she also does not find any fault in Miles’ behavior. She feels antagonistic towards the school authorities for dismissing Miles from the school. She finds the boy too gentle and sensitive for reproach.

On a particular day it rains heavily, thus restricting their customary visit to the church in the morning. The governess talks to the housekeeper and decides to go to the church in the evening if it stops raining by that time. As per their plan, she gets ready in the evening to go to the church, but suddenly remembers that she has left her gloves in the dining room. She goes to the room to pick up her gloves and finds them on a chair near the window. As she bends down to pick her gloves from the chair, she sees the face of the same man who had stared at her from the tower. This time his face is against the glass window. She realizes that the man is looking not for her but for someone else, maybe the children, and she runs out to catch the culprit. However, on reaching the spot, she does not find anybody. She looks for him outside and waits for him to reappear, but the man does not come back. In desperation, she presses her face against the window and looks into the room in the same manner as the man had done. Mrs. Grose who enters the room at that very moment, is shocked to see a face on the window. The governess is puzzled at the reaction of the housekeeper.


Notes

Henry James piles vision upon vision to scare the inmates of the house. The suspense builds up with the reappearance of the strange man. The curiosity of the readers intensifies. Who is the mysterious man and what does he want? Where did he come from and how did he disappear? Does Mrs. Grose know anything about the man and the reason behind his visit? James compels the readers to go through the next few chapters, to solve the mystery.

Just when the governess seems happy in the company of the housekeeper and the children, she is troubled by the visit of a strange man. To add to her woes, she receives disturbing news from home about financial and other problems. The governess feels distressed but draws inspiration from the smiling faces of the children to carry on her activities. Miles and Flora are ideal students who listen to her words and follow her advice. They make her feel comfortable and induce her to do her best for them. Miles is intelligent, courteous and polished and the governess feels bad to have suspected him of bad behavior. Instead, she is critical of the school authorities for having wronged against him.

Always after a happy session with the children, the governess experiences shock. In this chapter also, after days of fun and fulfillment with the children, the governess spots the face of the stranger in the window of the dining room. She becomes aware that the mysterious man is searching for her little wards instead of her. This thought creates fear in her heart, as she is concerned about the welfare of the children. In order to protect them against the intruder, she goes out to nab the culprit but feels disappointed at not finding him. Thus the governess, who was feeling secure and contented at Bly, suddenly starts feeling insecure.

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