Study Guide

The Turn of the Screw Chapter 14

By Henry James

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Chapter 14

  • Walking to church one Sunday, the Governess is struck by the idea that her command of the little family unit is like a jailer watching over prisoners, keeping an eye out for any attempt to escape.
  • She recognizes, however, that, if Miles were to try and escape from her, she would have no way of stopping him – though he's just a ten-year-old boy, she recognizes his superiority of sex and class (hey, it's her idea, not ours).
  • On this particular day, the prisoners revolt against their jailer. Miles asks with an innocent air when he will go back to school.
  • Here is where things get a little icky. Miles and the Governess have an awkward little chat, in which we forget that he's a ten-year-old boy and she his twenty-year-old governess; instead, he seems to treat her like an equal, or even an inferior. We can't help but notice his oddly flirtatious manner…he's a little too smooth for comfort.
  • Miles suggests that it's odd for a boy to only be brought up by women, and asks if he hasn't been good enough to merit a return to school – after all, the only bad thing he's done since the Governess arrived on the scene was to go out that one night.
  • The Governess pries a little further, asking whether Miles was happy at school. He replies that he's happy anywhere, but that he wants to "see more life" (14.11), which seems like a rather odd request for a ten-year-old child to make. Of course, Miles is no ordinary kid.
  • Before they enter the church, Miles has one more bombshell to drop: he says that he wants to be with people of his "own sort" (14.11), though what exactly he means by that, we're not sure. The Governess suggests that he has Flora, but he scoffs at that suggestion.
  • Miles wonders whether his uncle might have other ideas about what he should do, and claims that he'll convince the man to come and visit.

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