Study Guide

The Turn of the Screw Chapter 6

By Henry James

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Chapter 6

  • Mrs. Grose, bless her heart, immediately sides with the Governess, and doesn't question what she saw. They decide that they will do their best to shelter the children.
  • It becomes clear to the Governess that Quint was there looking for Miles (again, we're not sure how she knows this…). The two women wonder what would happen if the ghost appeared to the children, and they think that this is what Quint wants.
  • The Governess decides that she will try and intercept the ghost, in a manner of speaking, and therefore protect the children.
  • The fact that the children never mentioned Quint seems strange to the Governess; Mrs. Grose says that Flora was too young to remember, but that Miles would know.
  • Apparently Miles and Quint were close – the implication is that they were too close (whatever that means). Quint was apparently "too free" (5.7), not just with Miles, but with everyone.
  • Quint's badness was pretty clear to everyone except the master, who had faith in his valet.
  • Mrs. Grose admits that she was afraid of Quint's cleverness, and of the things he could do.
  • The Governess practically accuses Mrs. Grose of not looking out for the children, to which the poor woman replies that she wasn't in charge of them – the master had placed Quint in charge of everything when he left, even the children.
  • Over the following days, the women can't help but discuss their ghostly visitor. The Governess is sure that Mrs. Grose is still holding something back, but she's not sure what.
  • The facts of Peter Quint's death are revealed to us – he died accidentally, as far as anyone could tell, having slipped and struck his head one night after leaving the pub.
  • The Governess admits that she took a perverse kind of pleasure in working on this mystery – it makes her feel heroic and admirable. She betrays some rather egotistical feelings ["I confess I rather applaud myself as I look back!" (6.13)], and is proud of her immediate response, which is to simply protect the children. She feels even more united with her charges, since they're all endangered by the same threat.
  • The Governess decides that she will set herself up as a "screen" (6.13) between the children and the horrible things around them. She begins to watch the children even more closely, in a frenzy that's almost like madness. However, soon enough she has proof that even more is going wrong than she'd realized.
  • One day, Flora and the Governess are frolicking outside, having left Miles inside to finish a book. The little girl plays by the edge of a pond as her teacher looks on.
  • Suddenly, the Governess senses someone else watching them – she can't see this third person, but she can feel its presence. She immediately questions this person's right to be there; though she knows that there could be any number of people walking around the estate, but she's sure it's nobody that should be there.
  • Terrified, the Governess looks at Flora, who apparently hasn't noticed this intruder. The little girl is still absorbed in her game, and is trying to construct a little boat from two pieces of wood.
  • The Governess looks up to see who their creepy visitor really is.

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