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MonkeyNotes-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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Chapter 10

Summary

When the governess returns to her room, she is shocked to find Flora missing from her bed. Instead, the curtains are pulled up over the bed to give the impression of someone being in bed. However, Flora appears from behind one of the curtains and relieves the anxiety of the governess. When questioned, she tells the governess that on finding her missing from bed, she had looked out of the window to spot her. The governess is not convinced with the girl’s answer but keeps quiet.

For several nights after this incident, the governess is on her guard. In the nights, she walks out of her room to check out for intruders but that is only after ascertaining that Flora is fast asleep. On one such errand, she finds a female figure sitting in a crouching position on the landing of the stairs. However, before she can check as to whom the lady is, the lady disappears.

The incident that shakes the equanimity of the governess takes place ten days after the appearance of the ghost of Peter Quint. One night, she wakes up suddenly to find Flora missing from her bed. She notices Flora standing and looking the window. The governess goes out of the room without disturbing the girl. She enters one of the lower rooms and looks out of the window. What she sees outside shocks her! Little Miles is standing outside and looking up at someone above.


Notes

This is one more turn of the screw. The action of the children in this chapter puzzles not only the governess, but also the readers. Flora and Miles act unlike their usual selves. They are angelic and innocent in their appearance but their actions in the chapter are far from commendable. It is unbelievable that children of so tender an age can act in such a daring manner. Or are they under the influence of Peter Quint and Miss. Jessel? One has to read the next chapter to get the answer.

Little Flora’s behavior is both innocent and puzzling. As a little girl, it is natural for her to get frightened on discovering herself alone in bed. Thus her hiding behind the curtains is justifiable. However, ten days later, her leaving the bed after midnight to look out of the window does seem strange.

The behavior of Miles is even more puzzling. A boy of ten, standing alone outside the house on a dark night, is unfathomable. Why does he do such a thing and who is he looking at? How does Flora know about her brother standing outside? The mystery thickens in the novel and the suspense heightens. The governess has a problem in hand, and one needs to read further to find out about her future course of action.

The governess is visited alternately by the ghosts of Peter Quint and Jessel. A few days after the appearance of Peter Quint, she finds a woman resembling Jessel, sitting in a crouched position in almost the same place. It is as if the ghosts are taking turns to torment her.

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