© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw


by Henry James

Miss Jessel

Character Analysis

Interestingly enough, though she is most certainly one of the two villains of this story (from a conventional point of view, that is), we don't really know anything about Miss Jessel. We know some of her backstory – she came from a good family (she was, after all, a "lady"), and worked at Bly as the children's governess before our narrator arrived on the scene. While at Bly, she had an illicit and possibly quite racy relationship with Peter Quint; this relationship was further complicated by their class difference. However, beyond this, we really don't know anything except her physical appearance – and even that's a little sketchy. All we know is that she – or at least her ghostly form – likes to wear black, often looks weighed down by something (by misery, perhaps…or by evil!), and is exceptionally beautiful. Oh yeah, and she's very, very creepy…but that could just be the whole ghost thing.

Miss Jessel Timeline