Study Guide

The Turn of the Screw Chapter 4

By Henry James

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Chapter 4

  • The Governess's run-in from afar with the creepy stranger understandably unsettles her. She wonders if Bly might be housing some terrible secret, like an insane relative in the attic, à la Jane Eyre.
  • She spends the rest of the evening pacing around, wondering what to do.
  • When the Governess returns to the house and runs into Mrs. Grose, she decides instantly to "spare" her friend the trouble of worrying about the mystery man; she makes her excuses and runs off to her room without mentioning her bizarre encounter.
  • Over the next few days, the Governess observes her surroundings, and decides that nobody in the household is playing a trick on her. She assumes that the stranger that she saw must have actually been a stranger to the house, who snuck in, checked out the house, and left.
  • The Governess's fears are pushed out of her mind by the utter delight of her job. The children seem to only grow more and more wonderful day by day, and the Governess is head-over-heels in teacherly love with them.
  • The only thing that mars the perfection of this job is the continuing mystery of Miles's wrongdoing at school.
  • The idea that Miles could be bad grows more and more ridiculous to the Governess. He has the air of only being loved and never punished, which leads her to believe that he's never done any wrong, and never been caught doing anything. She admits to being "under the spell" (4.4) of his charm.
  • One Sunday, as the Governess and Mrs. Grose prepare to go to an evening church service, the Governess goes to pick up a pair of gloves she dropped in the formal dining room. Upon entering the room, she immediately senses another presence.
  • Lo and behold, just outside the window, she sees the same creepy guy she saw on the tower. She's shocked and horrified.
  • The pair match gazes again, but this time, he looks away for a moment and glances around the room. This convinces the Governess that he's not there for her, he's there to find someone else.
  • Inspired by this knowledge, the Governess sprints outside to confront the Peeping Tom. However, when she gets to the outside of the window, he's gone, and is nowhere to be found.
  • At a loss, the Governess decides to mimic the man to try and discern what he was doing there. She looks in through the window just where he was – and, in an odd and fascinating repetition of what just happened, Mrs. Grose sees her from inside.
  • Mrs. Grose's shock and horror perfectly mirrors that of the Governess when she saw the strange man outside – however, she doesn't understand what the housekeeper has to be scared of.

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