The Turn of the Screw

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The Turn of the Screw Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrative continues to the morning following the day by the lake. Mrs. Grose enters the governess’s room early to speak about Flora’s condition. Flora, she says, has fallen ill, and she seems to Mrs. Grose to have grown old and weak. Mrs. Grose confirms the governess’s expressed suspicion that Flora likely will never speak with her again. She says that Flora has said nothing about Miss Jessel, and she is afraid to bring up the subject with her, since she doesn’t want to worry the girl any more. The governess says there would be no point in doing so, since Flora is too clever to reveal anything about her interactions with Miss Jessel.
Mrs. Grose has taken on a freshly honest approach now in her conversation with the governess. She does not withhold from the governess that Flora will likely never want to speak with her again. The governess’s claim that there would be no point talking with Flora about Miss Jessel shows to what extent the governess has attributed to Flora a kind of corrupted innocence. She both doesn't want to worry Flora by continuing to press her, and sees Flora as so clever and corrupt that talking with her would be pointless because Flora would just evade her questioning.
Themes
Secrecy Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
The governess then says that she will not leave Bly, and she insists that Mrs. Grose take Flora to her uncle. She says that Flora needs to be away from Quint and Miss Jessel and, most of all, she needs to be away from the governess herself. The governess says she will stay behind and try to earn the trust of Miles, with whom she senses she is growing a closer bond.
The governess’s relinquishment of her control over Flora shows how thoroughly she feels she has lost the girl to Miss Jessel. Her comment that Flora in fact, needs to get away from her, the governess, can also be taken two ways: that Flora has been so corrupted that she is beyond saving, or that the governess herself is a danger to Flora.
Themes
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
Mrs. Grose returns to the subject of Flora. She says that even though she hasn’t seen Miss Jessel herself, she nonetheless senses Miss Jessel’s influence in the way Flora talks about the governess. She calls what Flora has said “horrors” but she doesn’t elaborate, and instead collapses on a couch. She does confirm that she now believes the governess’s claims about the continued presence of Quint and Miss Jessel at Bly.
This seems to be a development of true confidence between Mrs. Grose and the governess. But Mrs. Grose’s sudden contradiction of what she had said at the lake—that the ghosts were not real—seems strange. The governess may be wrong to think she truly has Mrs. Grose’s trust. Mrs. Grose does come across as someone who agrees with whoever she is talking to.
Themes
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
At the end of the chapter, Mrs. Grose says that she has a suspicion, which she had hoped to withhold, that Miles had stolen the letter intended for his uncle. She says further that this must be why Miles had been expelled. Mrs. Grose says that if Miles will confess to this, he will be saved, redeemed from his misbehaved condition. The governess promises to save Miles.
Mrs. Grose’s reticence yet again appears here—she withheld from the governess her suspicions of Miles, though it is not clear why. The governess’s final claim that she will save Miles demonstrates that she has not lost her nearly messianic sense of her own importance here at Bly.
Themes
Secrecy Theme Icon
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