The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James
The Turn of the Screw The Supernatural Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
She hung fire so long that I was still more mystified. "He went, too," she brought out at last.
Her expression, at this, became extraordinary. "God knows where! He died."
"Died?" I almost shrieked.
She seemed fairly to square herself, plant herself more firmly to utter the wonder of it. "Yes. Mr. Quint is dead." (5.27-29)
All of James's characters are skillful masters of suspense, whether they know it or not, even good old Mrs. Grose. This scene could easily have played out in a much less dramatic way, but James goes all out, and plays up the scare factor to the max.
[…] the thing was as human and hideous as a real interview: hideous just because it was human, as human as to have met alone, in the small hours, in a sleeping house, some enemy, some adventurer, some criminal. It was the dead silence of our long gaze at such close quarters that gave the whole horror, huge as it was, its only note of the unnatural. If I had met a murderer in such a place and at such an hour, we still at least would have spoken. Something would have passed, in life, between us; if nothing had passed, one of us would have moved. The moment was so prolonged that it would have taken but little more to make me doubt if even I were in life. (9.6)
Again, the same eerie total silence we noticed before with Quint's appearance takes over, emphasizing his almost-but-not-quite-human presence. The supernatural is always signaled by some kind of announcement here, whether it's just a feeling on the part of the Governess, or a notable change in atmosphere.
"Dear little Miles, dear little Miles, if you knew how I want to help you! It's only that, it's nothing but that, and I'd rather die than give you a pain or do you a wrong – I'd rather die than hurt a hair of you. Dear little Miles" – oh, I brought it out now even if I should go too far – "I just want you to help me to save you!" But I knew in a moment after this that I had gone too far. The answer to my appeal was instantaneous, but it came in the form of an extraordinary blast and chill, a gust of frozen air, and a shake of the room as great as if, in the wild wind, the casement had crashed in. The boy gave a loud, high shriek, which, lost in the rest of the shock of sound, might have seemed, indistinctly, though I was so close to him, a note either of jubilation or of terror. I jumped to my feet again and was conscious of darkness. So for a moment we remained, while I stared about me and saw the drawn curtains were unstirred and the window tight. "Why, the candle's out!" I then cried.
"It was I who blew it, dear!" said Miles. (17.25)
The supernatural forces that have swirled around the story up until this point actually let loose here for the first time – the burst of cold air and the mysterious wind are the first actual manifestations of ghostly power that we see.