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MonkeyNotes-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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Chapter 16

Summary

Mrs. Grose and the children return from the church but refrain from questioning the governess about her absence. The governess is disappointed by their response, especially by the silence of Mrs. Grose and she asks the housekeeper to explain her strange behavior. Mrs. Grose confesses that the children had asked her to keep quiet since they believe that their governess might like to be left alone. However, at the same time, the housekeeper is unable to describe the children’s reaction to her disappearance. The governess now tells Mrs. Grose about her meeting with Miss. Jessel. To enhance the effect of her encounter with the ghost, she concocts a story that Jessel had wanted to share her tormenting experience with Flora. Mrs. Grose is shocked to hear this. Thus, when the governess informs her that she has decided to call back her employer, Mrs. Grose is happy that her master will come to rescue the children.


Notes

The governess develops a negative attitude towards the children. Thus she views their every word and every action, with suspicion. When Miles presents his problems to her and asks her to help him, she is angry with him instead of sympathizing with his plight. When the children act responsibly by asking Mrs. Grose not to question the governess about her absence from the church, the governess mistakes their intention. She decides to write to their uncle and expose their wickedness. She therefore acts and behaves immaturely. Instead of shielding Miles from the censure of his uncle, she decides to complain against the boy. In the process, she exposes herself to be a guilty and selfish individual who is afraid of criticism and only bothered about her image. She wants to present herself as an ideal governess, in front of her employer, and impress him with her efforts. Therefore, when she is unable to tackle the problem of Miles, she puts the blame on the boy to cover up her guilt. She is therefore not concerned about protecting the interests of the boy. In contrast to her is Mrs. Grose, who is sympathetic and protective towards the children. When the governess reveals her intention of complaining against Miles to her employer, Mrs. Grose takes objection to it, as she does not think that there is anything wrong with the boy. She even volunteers to write the letter herself, but gives up the idea on the governess’ insistence.

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