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The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James

Society and Class Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

The scene had a greatness that made it a different affair from my own scant home, and there immediately appeared at the door, with a little girl in her hand, a civil person who dropped me as decent a curtsy as if I had been the mistress or a distinguished visitor. I had received in Harley Street a narrower notion of the place, and that, as I recalled it, made me think the proprietor still more of a gentleman, suggested that what I was to enjoy might be something beyond his promise. (1.1)

Part of the appeal of Bly is the notion of escaping one's class and playing at wealth – we see it here in the Governess, and, in an interesting common trait, we see it in Peter Quint later.

Quote #2

I used to speculate – but even this with a dim disconnectedness – as to how the rough future (for all futures are rough!) would handle them and might bruise them. They had the bloom of health and happiness; and yet, as if I had been in charge of a pair of little grandees, of princes of the blood, for whom everything, to be right, would have to be enclosed and protected, the only form that, in my fancy, the afteryears could take for them was that of a romantic, a really royal extension of the garden and the park. (3.8)

The children are consistently set above everyone else; we don't know what the actual social status of the family is, but they're certainly of a different breed, so to speak, than the rest of the characters.

Quote #3

It lasted while I just bridled a little with the sense that my office demanded that there should be no such ignorance and no such person. It lasted while this visitant, at all events – and there was a touch of the strange freedom, as I remember, in the sign of familiarity of his wearing no hat – seemed to fix me, from his position, with just the question, just the scrutiny through the fading light, that his own presence provoked. (3.12)

Both the Governess and her "visitant," Quint, are perhaps a little too familiar with the house – she makes a big fuss about how he's not wearing a hat, while at the same time, she assumes that she already has the right to know everyone and everything about Bly.

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