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The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James

Innocence Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

Not a sound, on the way, had passed between us, and I had wondered – oh, how I had wondered! – if he were groping about in his little mind for something plausible and not too grotesque. It would tax his invention, certainly, and I felt, this time, over his real embarrassment, a curious thrill of triumph. It was a sharp trap for the inscrutable! He couldn't play any longer at innocence; so how the deuce would he get out of it? (11.3)

Here, the Governess begins to wonder if the whole innocent and pure aura that surrounds Miles is just an act; her perceptions not only of the children but of the world around her begin to change from here on out.

Quote #8

What it was most impossible to get rid of was the cruel idea that, whatever I had seen, Miles and Flora saw more – things terrible and unguessable and that sprang from dreadful passages of intercourse in the past. (13.4)

The Governess's fear that the children have been corrupted by their communication with the ghosts makes us wonder what her state of innocence is – having seen some of what they've seen, has she also been corrupted somehow?

Quote #9

Those he liked? I seemed to float not into clearness, but into a darker obscure, and within a minute there had come to me out of my very pity the appalling alarm of his being perhaps innocent. It was for the instant confounding and bottomless, for if he were innocent, what then on earth was I? Paralyzed, while it lasted, by the mere brush of the question, I let him go a little, so that, with a deep-drawn sigh, he turned away from me again; which, as he faced toward the clear window, I suffered, feeling that I had nothing now there to keep him from. (24.16)

The confusion surrounding what exactly Miles did at school (it's often thought that his mysterious offense and the things he said might have been homosexual in nature) makes the Governess throw into question who is guilty and who is innocent – can it be that she's the corrupt one for putting a child into such a miserable position?

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