The Turn of the Screw
How we cite our quotes:
"See him, miss, first. Then believe it!" I felt forthwith a new impatience to see him; it was the beginning of a curiosity that, for all the next hours, was to deepen almost to pain. Mrs. Grose was aware, I could judge, of what she had produced in me, and she followed it up with assurance. "You might as well believe it of the little lady. Bless her," she added the next moment – "look at her!" (2.10)
The idea that Miles's innocence could be proven by simply looking at him is more than a little odd – Mrs. Grose's faith in her charges seems to be founded purely on their adorability, which, as far as we know, doesn't usually correlate directly to morality.
As soon as I could compass a private word with Mrs. Grose I declared to her that it was grotesque.
She promptly understood me. "You mean the cruel charge – ?"
"It doesn't live an instant. My dear woman, look at him!"
She smiled at my pretension to have discovered his charm. "I assure you, miss, I do nothing else! What will you say, then?" she immediately added.
"In answer to the letter?" I had made up my mind. "Nothing."
"And to his uncle?"
I was incisive. "Nothing."
"And to the boy himself?"
I was wonderful. "Nothing." (3.1-5)
This wording is really interesting…the women have only to look at Miles to know that he's innocent, but that's not all – Mrs. Grose's response ("I do nothing else!") hints at the oddly obsessive pleasure of looking at the kid.
My charming work was just my life with Miles and Flora, and through nothing could I so like it as through feeling that I could throw myself into it in trouble. The attraction of my small charges was a constant joy, leading me to wonder afresh at the vanity of my original fears, the distaste I had begun by entertaining for the probable gray prose of my office. There was to be no gray prose, it appeared, and no long grind; so how could work not be charming that presented itself as daily beauty? It was all the romance of the nursery and the poetry of the school room. I don't mean by this, of course, that we studied only fiction and verse; I mean I can express no otherwise the sort of interest my companions inspired. (4.3)
The Governess's infatuation with her young pupils influences everything about her new job; the whole thing takes on the appearance of flawless romance.