The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James
The Turn of the Screw Repression Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I quickly rose, and I think I must have shown her a queerer face than ever yet. "You see me asking him for a visit?" No, with her eyes on my face she evidently couldn't. Instead of it even –as a woman reads another – she could see what I myself saw: his derision, his amusement, his contempt for the breakdown of my resignation at being left alone and for the fine machinery I had set in motion to attract his attention to my slighted charms. She didn't know – no one knew – how proud I had been to serve him and to stick to our terms; yet she nonetheless took the measure, I think, of the warning I now gave her. "If you should so lose your head as to appeal to him for me – "
She was really frightened. "Yes, miss?"
"I would leave, on the spot, both him and you." (12.9-10)
The Governess still can't come to terms with her desire for her employer, which she continues to displace into her feelings about her job – her dire need to follow the rules he set is her only means of expressing her love for him.
Transcribed here the speech sounds harmless enough, particularly as uttered in the sweet, high, casual pipe with which, at all interlocutors, but above all at his eternal governess, he threw off intonations as if he were tossing roses. There was something in them that always made one "catch," and I caught, at any rate, now so effectually that I stopped as short as if one of the trees of the park had fallen across the road. There was something new, on the spot, between us, and he was perfectly aware that I recognized it, though, to enable me to do so, he had no need to look a whit less candid and charming than usual. I could feel in him how he already, from my at first finding nothing to reply, perceived the advantage he had gained. (14.2)
The Governess can't – or won't – put her finger on what has changed between her and Miles. We can only note that he grows more and more like a man and less childish as the story goes on, and his greater degree of independence also gives him a greater sense of power – in our eyes and in those of his teacher.
Dishonored and tragic, she was all before me; but even as I fixed and, for memory, secured it, the awful image passed away. Dark as midnight in her black dress, her haggard beauty and her unutterable woe, she had looked at me long enough to appear to say that her right to sit at my table was as good as mine to sit at hers. While these instants lasted, indeed, I had the extraordinary chill of feeling that it was I who was the intruder. It was as a wild protest against it that, actually addressing her – "You terrible, miserable woman!" – I heard myself break into a sound that, by the open door, rang through the long passage and the empty house. (15.5)
Miss Jessel is depicted with some amount of sympathy here and throughout the story; though she is certainly described as an evil presence, the Governess is also clearly fascinated with her. We wonder if Miss Jessel is a kind of evil twin to the Governess – the shamed woman acts upon her desires and suffers the consequences, while the Governess keeps hers bottled up inside.