The Turn of the Screw

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Douglas Character Analysis

The man who follows Griffin’s story by adding a “turn of the screw” to Griffin’s shocking story when he reads the governess’s manuscript to the partygoers, a story that involves two ghosts and two children.The governesswas Douglas’s sister’s governess, and the way Douglas speaks of the governess implies that he had once been in love with her.

Douglas Quotes in The Turn of the Screw

The The Turn of the Screw quotes below are all either spoken by Douglas or refer to Douglas. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Supernatural Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet Classics edition of The Turn of the Screw published in 2007.
Preface Quotes

"I quite agree—in regard to Griffin's ghost, or whatever it was—that its appearing first to the little boy, at so tender an age, adds a particular touch. But it's not the first occurrence of its charming kind that I know to have involved a child. If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what do you say to TWO children—?"

Related Characters: Douglas (speaker)
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:

At a Christmas Eve party in London, the partygoers have been sharing ghost stories, one of which has featured a ghost haunting a child. Douglas, one of the partygoers, attempts to trump this story, bragging that he knows of a ghost story that features not just one but two children. The fact that the novel's main narrative is embedded within this scene highlights the importance of the theme of storytelling. James explores the idea that we tell stories to impress others, and Douglas' dramatic phrase "what do you say to TWO children––?" indicates that he is competing to tell the most disturbing tale. 

This passage is important as it is one of two places where the novel's title is mentioned, and thus provides insight into the function of the phrase "The Turn of the Screw" within the narrative. Douglas says that the appearance of a ghost to an innocent child "adds a particular touch," meaning that the juxtaposition between the horror of the ghost and the child's innocence makes for a good story. Douglas uses the phrase "the turn of the screw" to imply a level of creepiness within the story; however, this phrase also gives a sense of something being closed or sealed. This may foreshadow the governess' feeling that she is trapped at Bly. 


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Douglas Character Timeline in The Turn of the Screw

The timeline below shows where the character Douglas appears in The Turn of the Screw. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...inclusion of children in the story of a ghost visitation. This prompts a second attendee, Douglas, to bring up a story he knows in which two children are visited. He describes... (full context)
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Douglas has access to the story’s original manuscript, which was written by the governess who was... (full context)
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
Douglas gives his listeners some background information about the governess. The youngest daughter of a poor... (full context)