The Turn of the Screw

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The Turn of the Screw Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The governess returns to her room after her encounter with Quint. She is terrified to notice that Flora’s bed is now empty—the curtain around it now drawn—and when she rushes to her bed to search for her, Flora emerges from behind the window’s blind. The governess, now upset, asks why she had hidden there. Flora replies that she had noticed the governess had gone missing, so she was looking out the window to see if she’d gone outside. The governess thinks Flora is lying, so she asks why Flora had drawn the curtain around her bed, making it seem like she’d gone to sleep. Flora flashes her “divine smile” and says because she didn’t want to frighten the governess.
The governess’s interaction with Flora serves as in important development in their relationship. The governess will continue to suspect that Flora’s “divine smile” and other expressions of innocence conceal some ulterior motive. But it really isn't clear if Flora was hiding or closing the curtain around her for just the reason she said. The governess believes Flora was looking at Miss Jessel, though this is an unverifiable assumption—we only have the governess’s side of the story.
Themes
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
Suspicious of Flora now, the governess stays up at night trying to catch the girl sneaking out of bed again. During these nights, she occasionally leaves the room they share to explore the area of the house where she had seen Quint. She does not see Quint again in the home, but she does encounter Miss Jessel again, seated on the steps of the home with her head in her hands. Miss Jessel vanishes though before the two can make eye contact.
The governess’s sleepless nights watching out for Flora’s activity show us an ever more alert and rigid governess. Her description of her encounter with Miss Jessel lacks the emotional charge she had felt when she first encountered these ghosts. She has shifted from scared onlooker to a kind of severe security guard.
Themes
The Supernatural Theme Icon
On a night when she feels particularly tired, the governess allows herself to fall into a deep sleep. She awakes suddenly when she realizes a light she left burning had been blown out. She notices that Flora left her bed to look out the window again, and she assumes the girl blew out the light. The governess says she now knows Flora can see Miss Jessel down below. To confirm this, she leaves to look out from a different window, but instead of seeing Miss Jessel, she is horrified to see Miles outside.
The governess is now certain that Flora can see Miss Jessel. Her reliability as a narrator is undermined though when she only sees Miles down below. What Flora actually sees remains a mystery here. The governess's horror at seeing Miles mirrors her horror of seeing the ghosts, as if the two now overlap somehow in her mind, as if Miles being outside is a corroboration of her belief of his hiding something corrupted beneath his innocent exterior.
Themes
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon