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)
"I quite agree – in regard to Griffin's ghost, or whatever it was – that its appearing first to the little boy, at so tender an age, adds a particular touch. But it's not the first occurrence of its charming kind that I know to have involved a child. If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what do you say to two children – ?"
"We say, of course," somebody exclaimed, "that they give two turns! Also that we want to hear about them." (Prologue.2)
The association of children with the supernatural and the heightened tension that this relationship creates is introduced early on – actually, on the very first page of the story – giving readers an idea of what to anticipate.
But it was a comfort that there could be no uneasiness in a connection with anything so beatific as the radiant image of my little girl, the vision of whose angelic beauty had probably more than anything else to do with me restlessness that, before morning, made me several times rise and wander about my room to take in the whole picture and prospect; to watch, from my open window, the faint summer dawn, to look at such portions of the rest of the house as I could catch, and to listen, while, in the fading dusk, the first birds began to twitter, for the possible recurrence of a sound or two, less natural and not without, but within, that I had fancied I heard. There had been a moment when I believed I recognized, faint and far, the cry of a child; there had been another when I found myself just consciously starting as at the passage, before my door, of a light footstep. But these fancies were not marked enough not to be thrown off, and it is only in the light, or the gloom, I should rather say, of other and subsequent matters that they now come back to me. (1.3)
Here, the whole "ghost story" genre makes itself clear; the sounds the Governess hears in the night are universally stereotypical sound effects of horror.
It was as if, while I took in – what I did take in – all the rest of the scene had been stricken with death. I can hear again, as I write, the intense hush in which the sounds of evening dropped. The rooks stopped cawing in the golden sky, and the friendly hour lost, for the minute, all its voice. But there was no other change in nature, unless indeed it were a change that I saw with a stranger sharpness. The gold was still in the sky, the clearness in the air, and the man who looked at me over the battlements was as definite as a picture in a frame. That's how I thought, with extraordinary quickness, of each person that he might have been and that he was not. We were confronted across our distance quite long enough for me to ask myself with intensity who then he was and to feel, as an effect of my inability to say, a wonder that in a few instants more became intense. (3.11)
The unnatural quality of Quint's appearance, even before we know he's a ghost, is notable straight away. The sudden dropping away of the natural world draws attention to the wrongness of his presence.