Study Guide

The Turn of the Screw Chapter 1

By Henry James

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Chapter 1

  • From here on out, the Governess is our narrator. She tells us about her pleasant journey to her employer's country home, where she is met by Mrs. Grose and Flora.
  • She's quite impressed with the house, and its pleasant appearance makes her admire her employer even more.
  • Apparently, Flora is just the most adorable creature ever. The Governess falls for her immediately.
  • Everything at Bly is quite proper so far – the Governess is installed in a gorgeous bedroom, and she feels quite pleased overall with her surroundings.
  • The Governess can't sleep during her first night at Bly; she's too excited about all of the changes that have come to pass in her life. She's happy about everything, and even though she'd been a little nervous about meeting Mrs. Grose, she thinks that they'll get along just splendidly.
  • The very thought of Flora quells any remaining fears the Governess has. True, she has trouble sleeping that night, and even thinks she hears some creepy sound effects (a child's cry, a footstep outside her door) – however, for the most part, she is content with her job, her student, and her new home. For now, that is…
  • It's decided that, after this first night, Flora will stay in the Governess's room. That and other practical matters had been handled earlier in the evening over dinner with Flora and Mrs. Grose. The Governess recalls her discussion with the housekeeper about her other pupil, Miles.
  • Miles is apparently just as darling as his little sister, and Mrs. Grose thinks that the Governess will just be "carried away" (1.6). The Governess replies that she was already carried away by the children's uncle in London. (Hmm.)
  • Miles is due to return from school on Friday; the Governess and Flora plan to meet him upon his arrival at Bly.
  • The next day, the Governess gets acquainted with her new home. The grandeur of the house intimidates her, but she also feels proud to belong there. In an attempt to get her small pupil to like her, she asks Flora to show her around the place.
  • The little girl takes her job seriously, and shows her new governess around Bly's many rooms and hallways.
  • The Governess admits that, if she were to see that house again, she wouldn't be as impressed; however, on that first day, she remembers being awestruck – it looks to her like a romantic castle, rather than the "big ugly antique but convenient house" (1.9) that it is.
  • The house reminds the Governess of a ship adrift, in which the inhabitants are passengers, and she, oddly enough, is the captain.

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