The Turn of the Screw

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The Turn of the Screw Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
With Mrs. Grose and Flora now gone from Bly, the governess prepares herself for her time alone with Miles. She is aware the maids and other staff at Bly know about what has happened, and she notices them staring at her, but she chooses to put on a rigid appearance in order to seem in control of the situation. She overhears maids saying that Miles had eaten with Flora before her departure. She assumes the children had time to discuss the situation, and she worries about how best to approach delicately the subject of Bly’s “monstrous ordeal.” She says she has to stay rigid and take control fearlessly, taking on the situation as “only another turn of the screw of ordinary human nature.”
The governess’s “rigidity” in this situation can be seen in two ways, depending on whether the ghosts are assumed to be real, or if they are only her own imaginings. If they are real, her control of the situation, and her acceptance of the situation as only a “turn of the screw” (or a slight modification of) ordinary human nature, seems like a kind of brave heroism. On the other hand, if the ghosts aren’t real, she can seem to have endangered the children, and to have taken the situation wrongfully and desperately into her own hands and then rigidly refused to see anything but her own delusions.
Themes
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
Miles does not bring up the ghosts, but only asks if Flora has fallen ill. The governess says that Bly disagreed with Flora, and after she says so the two have a conversation that seems to the governess almost to broach the subject of Miss Jessel. Miss Jessel never comes up, but it is clear the governess thinks Miles uses his usual innocence to avoid the subject.
This conversation seems to the governess to dodge around the topic of Miss Jessel, but since this is told from her perspective, it is unclear whether or not this is the case. It could be that Miles truly does not know about the situation, and that he only thinks Flora has fallen ill. Miles may be as innocent as he seems, or he may not be.
Themes
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon