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The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James

Wisdom and Knowledge Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"He was looking for someone else, you say – someone who was not you?"

"He was looking for little Miles." A portentous clearness now possessed me. "That's whom he was looking for."

"But how do you know?"

"I know, I know, I know!" My exaltation grew. "And you know, my dear!" (6.3)

Again, the Governess's mysterious certainty rears its puzzling head. She demonstrates a certain triumph, or, as she calls it, "exaltation," which could perhaps be explained as the thrill of certainty, even without proof.

Quote #5

She felt my discrimination. "I daresay I was wrong. But, really, I was afraid."

"Afraid of what?"

"Of things that man could do. Quint was so clever – he was so deep." (6.10)

Hmm… you have to wonder what exactly James means when he uses the word "deep." Clearly it's not a good thing – but it's also not entirely a bad thing. Does it simply mean "intelligent" or "cunning," or is there another implication at work here?

Quote #6

I was there to protect and defend the little creatures in the world the most bereaved and the most lovable, the appeal of whose helplessness had suddenly become only too explicit, a deep, constant ache of one's own committed heart. We were cut off, really, together; we were united in our danger. They had nothing but me, and I – well, I had them. It was in short a magnificent chance. This chance presented itself to me in an image richly material. I was a screen – I was to stand before them. The more I saw, the less they would. (6.13)

This is a majorly important quote in the story – it's basically the Governess's mission statement. Her assertion that she'll absorb all the bad things aimed at the children is both a self-sacrificing gesture and an oddly pleasurable, anticipatory one…the Governess relishes new knowledge so much that we wonder if she might actually enjoy this duty.

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