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MonkeyNotes-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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Chapter 9

Summary

Days pass without any happenings of consequence. During this time, the governess involves herself in work and keeps the children occupied. At times she wonders whether they can detect her suspicions about them. Both the children are intelligent but Miles is more perceptive and absorbs things easily and reacts instantaneously. He is sharp and baffles the governess with his answers. Flora is also very talented. He and Flora thus work in harmony and compliment each other.

One day after Flora goes to bed the governess reads Henry Fielding’s novel Amelia. Engrossed in reading she loses sense of time and place. Suddenly, she hears some movement outside her door and becomes alert. She opens the door and walks towards the staircase. She notices the figure of Peter Quint, in the landing, standing and staring at her. From such a short distance, he looks quite frightening. The governess remains rooted to the spot and stares back at him. After a while, the figure moves away into the darkness.


Notes

In every chapter, James arranges the sequence of events in such a way that, scenes of excitement appear after the scenes of quietness. In this chapter too, after days of peace, togetherness and satisfaction, the spirit of Peter Quint disturbs the governess. All this while, she had enjoyed the company of the children and found their response encouraging. The governess was therefore relieved, even if temporarily. Suddenly, something happens to disturb her peace. On a quiet night, she finds the figure of Peter Quint standing on the landing of the stairs. After days of tranquil this incident shakes her balance of mind. However, she confronts the ghost courageously and it leaves.

The ghosts of Peter Quint and Jessel come to haunt the governess whenever she is doing her work responsibly and being a positive influence on the children. The ghosts seem to appear at such times to test her confidence and halt her progress in work. Now again, the figure of Peter Quint appears after the governess had experienced days of harmony with the children.

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