The Turn of the Screw
Appearances Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
Of course I was under the spell, and the wonderful part is that, even at the time, I perfectly knew I was. But I gave myself up to it; it was an antidote to any pain, and I had more pains than one. I was in receipt in these days of disturbing letters from home, where things were not going well. But with my children, what things in the world mattered? That was the question I used to put to my scrappy retirements. I was dazzled by their loveliness. (4.4)
Again, we see the magical nature of the children's beauty…they actually take away the Governess's other cares. After all, how often do you seriously find yourself "dazzled" by anyone's loveliness?
He was the same – he was the same, and seen, this time, as he had been seen before, from the waist up, the window, though the dining room was on the ground floor, not going down to the terrace on which he stood. His face was close to the glass, yet the effect of this better view was, strangely, only to show me how intense the former had been. He remained but a few seconds – along enough to convince me he also saw and recognized; but it was as if I had been looking at him for years and had known him always. Something, however, happened this tune that had not happened before; his stare into my face, through the glass and across the room, was as deep and hard as then, but it quitted me for a moment during which I could still watch it, see it fix successively several other things. On the spot there came to me the added shock of a certitude that it was not for me he had come there. He had come for someone else. (4.5)
Like with everyone else, the Governess makes a snap judgment on Peter Quint – she has total faith in her perception of his appearance.
"Why, of the very things that have delighted, fascinated, and yet, at bottom, as I now so strangely see, mystified and troubled me. Their more than earthly beauty, their absolutely unnatural goodness. It's a game," I went on; "it's a policy and a fraud!"
"On the part of little darlings – ?"
"As yet mere lovely babies? Yes, mad as that seems!" The very act of bringing it out really helped me to trace it – follow it all up and piece it all together. "They haven't been good – they've only been absent. It has been easy to live with them, because they're simply leading a life of their own. They're not mine – they're not ours. They're his and they're hers!" (12.2)
For the first time, the Governess actually questions the policy of just taking people at face value and questions the system of believing everything one sees that dominates the first half of the book. However, if you're used to living in a world in which first impressions mean everything, as the Governess is, it's a big, traumatic shock to realize that things aren't always what they seem.