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MonkeyNotes-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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Chapter 11

Summary

The next morning, the governess relates the events of the night to Mrs. Grose. The housekeeper listens attentively, trying to believe what the governess is saying. She finds it difficult to believe that the children are capable of such wickedness. She observes them walking down together, in perfect harmony. Miles is reading out a story to his sister and leading her on protectively.

The governess also tells Mrs. Grose about her meeting with Miles after she had seen him standing in the dark and looking up. She had gone out and brought the boy inside and then led him upstairs, after which she had questioned him about his behavior. Miles had been very forthright in conveying his intentions to her. He told her that he had tried to play a trick on her and had therefore projected himself as ‘bad.’ Flora had co-operated with him by standing near the window, to attract the attention of the governess. The governess had acted just as Miles had intended her to act and become suspicious. The governess feels foolish and at the same time more confused after hearing the words of the boy.


Notes

The governess turns to Mrs. Grose whenever she finds herself in trouble and the housekeeper, like a good friend, gives her solace. Thus the morning after the incident, she narrates the episode to Mrs. Grose and earns her sympathy. However, she is unable to convince the housekeeper about the wickedness of the children.

The midnight rendezvous of Miles and his justification later on, is not very convincing. How could a boy of ten behave so strangely and then face his teacher so boldly? The readers, like the governess, are likely to impute evil influence on the boy. In this scene, Miles acts and behaves like an adult.

Henry James may have tried to convey through this incident that, children orphaned at a young age and living alone in a big house under the care of servants, are likely to behave in a strange manner. Their bizarre actions could be a result of isolation and neglect. Miles seems to derive pleasure by projecting himself as ‘bad,’ to his teacher. It could be a way of teasing and taunting the lady. All this while he had shown himself as good and now, he desires to display the bad side of his character. For a boy of ten, this attitude of Miles is difficult to understand and requires some kind of psychological insight.

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