Study Guide

Flora in The Turn of the Screw

By Henry James

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Flora The Explorer

Flora is two years younger than her brother—she's eight—and is just as adorable; the two of them are often compared to angels, and their beauty is their most prominent quality.

(...their most prominent quality outside of deeply sinister creepiness, that is.)

Both of them seemingly cast a spell on the Governess just by merit of looking the way they do:

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. (1.3)

Flora meets the Governess first, and though we don't see as much conversation between the two of them, we know that the little girl instantly wins the affection and adoration of her teacher. However, once Miles enters the scene, Flora kind of falls by the wayside.

If we know little about Miles, we know even less about Flora. Basically, all we get is that she's only slightly less compelling than her fabulous brother—and that, we might guess, is simply because she's a girl.

Miles's maleness is what allows him to be forgiven time and time again by Mrs. Grose and the Governess, whereas Flora is the first to fall under suspicion. In fact, once the Governess gets suspicious of Flora, she starts seeing her as less than angelically beautiful:

Flora continued to fix me with her small mask of reprobation, and even at that minute I prayed God to forgive me for seeming to see that, as she stood there holding tight to our friend's dress, her incomparable childish beauty had suddenly failed, had quite vanished. I've said it already – she was literally, she was hideously, hard; she had turned common and almost ugly. [...] (20.5)

Notably, she's also dismissed by the Governess after the second lake incident, while the older woman stays with Miles to try and salvage him.

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