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MonkeyNotes-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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Chapter 21

Summary

Early next morning, Mrs. Grose comes to meet the governess to inform her about Flora’s illness and that the child had a restless night. She had kept reiterating that she has not seen Jessel and that she does not want to see her present governess. The housekeeper also tells the governess that Flora has talked about her in a deploring manner and that she wants her to go away from Bly. The housekeeper looks helpless as she conveys Flora’s message. The governess is distressed to note Flora’s attitude towards her but decides to give in to her wishes. However, she asks Mrs. Grose to take Flora away to her uncle and she decides to stay back at Bly to keep an eye on Miles. The housekeeper is happy with the suggestion of the governess, as she too feels the need to get away from Bly. She is concerned about Miles and expresses her fear that Miles has stolen the letter that the governess had kept on the table. The governess promises to tackle Miles and deal with the situation accordingly.


Notes

The governess fails to provide security and comfort to the children. Obsessed with the presence of evil spirits in and around the house, she is suspicious that they are corrupting the children. Therefore, she questions Flora about the ghost of Jessel and frightens the child. When the frightened child refuses to meet her, she feels insulted and blames the spirits of Jessel and Quint, for poisoning the girl’s mind against her. When Mrs. Grose requests her to go away for the sake of the child, the governess refuses to do so. Instead, she asks the housekeeper to take away Flora to her uncle. She expresses a desire to stay at Bly to look after Miles. She does this mainly out of her feelings of guilt. Whether she would be able to protect him, is anybody’s guess!

The governess is able to influence Mrs. Grose with her ideas and views. When she talks about the house being haunted by the spirits of Quint and Jessel, the housekeeper takes her at her word. She also manages to convince Mrs. Grose that the ghosts have antagonized Flora against her and therefore the girl was abusing her. Therefore, when she asks the housekeeper to take away Flora to her uncle, Mrs. Grose agrees to do so, as she is anxious to protect the girl from evil spirits.

The screw is turned on the governess. The lady had imagined herself to be the savior, who had come to rescue the children from evil spirits. However, she fails to give comfort to Flora. Instead of instilling confidence into the girl, she infuses fear into her. Flora condemns her behavior and rejects her and even Miles is afraid to face her. Thus, instead of bringing herself closer to the children, she distances herself from them.

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