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MonkeyNotes-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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Chapter 19

Summary

The governess leads Mrs. Grose towards the lake, as she believes that Jessel would make her appearance there. As they are walking towards the lake, they find a hidden boat. The governess surmises that it could have been used and left by the little girl. When they reach an open ground surrounded by trees, they find Flora playing with a copse. She is surprised to see them without their hats but welcomes them heartily. She also inquires about Miles. However, she gives no explanation for her visit to the lake. When the governess feels disappointed with the girl’s response, she asks her about Miss. Jessel.


Notes

More than the children, it is the governess who seems to be possessed by the spirits. She forgets that Miles and Flora are children who need freedom to enjoy themselves and move around. She takes it for granted that evil spirits possess the children and their activities revolve around the ghosts. Thus, when she finds Flora missing, she comes to the conclusion that the girl has gone to meet Jessel and also that Miles has sent his sister away so that he can arrange a meeting with Quint. The imagination of the governess runs riot. Later, she tries to justify her point by asking the housekeeper to believe that Flora had taken the boat, which is now hidden under the trees, to meet Jessel. When Flora inquires about their dress and about Miles in all her innocence, the governess tries to read some kind of meaning into her questions.

In contrast to the suspicious governess is the trusting housekeeper who thinks only good about the children. Even as the governess tries to convince Mrs. Grose that, the children are wicked, the housekeeper considers them to be innocent and helpless, needing understanding and protection. The generous heart of Mrs. Grose has place only for love, and she extends this love to the children.

The suspense heightens in the novel, with the disappearance of Flora from the house and the governess going in search for her, towards the lake. The hidden boat and the belief of the governess that Flora had used it, creates mystery in the story. And finally, Flora playing all by herself in a secluded spot seems strange. To unearth the secret behind Flora’s rendezvous, one has to wait and watch.

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