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The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw


by Henry James

Miles Timeline and Summary

  • Miles returns to Bly for the summer after school lets out.
  • Miles succeeds in effortlessly charming the Governess with his sweet nature and good looks.
  • Everything goes well for our little faux-family unit of Miles, Flora, and the Governess – for a little while, at least.
  • After the ghosts appear, the Governess discovers, unbeknownst to Miles, that he and Quint had a close relationship – something he notably never mentions.
  • The night of the second Flora-at-the-window incident, the Governess discovers that Miles is the figure on the lawn that the girl is looking at.
  • The Governess goes outside to fetch Miles. He excuses himself playfully, saying that he only wanted to show the Governess that he can be really bad when he wants to.
  • Later on, Miles confronts the Governess about his supposed return to school, declaring that he can't just grow up in the country with a bunch of women.
  • Miles declares that he wants to see more of life – and that he needs to be with people like him. We're not quite sure what he means by that.
  • Miles demands that the Governess put the case before his uncle, thinking that the man will want him to go off to school again. He claims that he will make his uncle pay attention to them.
  • The Governess and Miles have an awkward, rather sketchy encounter in Miles's room late one night – she attempts to learn more about his school days, but he refuses to tell her.
  • Desperate, the Governess begs Miles to let her save him; there's immediately a seemingly supernatural response in the room – it's battered by cold winds, despite the fact that the window is closed.
  • The candle is extinguished – Miles says that he blew it out. Again, we can't be sure what really happened…is he telling the truth?
  • Miles lures the Governess away from Flora, and entertains her by playing music.
  • While the second incident by the lake is going down, Miles runs off by himself and explores the grounds.
  • After Flora and Mrs. Grose leave, Miles and the Governess are left alone. He tells her he's been enjoying his freedom.
  • After one last dinner, the Governess confronts Miles about his past; he attempts to escape, saying that he needs to go see Luke, presumably a servant.
  • The Governess demands to know if Miles took her letter to his uncle. He admits to it, saying that he found nothing of importance in it, and burned it.
  • The truth about school finally emerges. Once Miles knows that the Governess knows "everything" about his expulsion, he finally confesses that he said some things to some of the students – interestingly, only those that he liked – and that the masters must have found out.
  • Miles admits, when pressed, that some of these things must have been too bad to write home about.
  • The Governess freaks out because of the reappearance of Peter Quint, and calls out to the ghost to go away. Miles, alarmed, asks if it's Miss Jessel.
  • When the Governess tells him that it's not in fact the former governess, but is the other villain, Miles desperately turns to look at the ghost – but he's gone. As this is happening, he mysteriously calls out "Peter Quint – you devil!" (24.24).
  • In relief that Peter Quint has disappeared, the Governess clutches Miles, but she discovers that he's dead in her arms.