The Turn of the Screw


Henry James

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The Turn of the Screw: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

The governess’s story begins with her description of her journey to Bly. She mentions the mixed feelings she was then experiencing: She thought that she may have made a mistake by committing to this somewhat peculiar arrangement, but she is nonetheless excited to begin this new stage in her life. Her worries are later relieved when she arrives at Bly, which she says struck her initially as a beautiful home.
The governess is comforted by Bly’s impressive exterior. The estate’s beauty calms her, but her mood change from nervous and uncertain to confident and excited comes across in the text as perhaps too quick to be permanent. Bly is set up here as a potentially deceptively beautiful place.
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Related Quotes
Mrs. Grose informs the governess that Miles will arrive in a couple days by the same carriage the governess herself rode in on. The governess says she would like to go, with Flora, to the carriage’s pick-up point, so that she may welcome Miles and introduce herself to him. Mrs. Grose enthusiastically agrees to this idea, and so a plan is made to meet Miles.
The governess has quickly developed a close relationship with Flora and Mrs. Grose here. She seems excited to dive into her responsibilities, and her enthusiasm is warmly received by Mrs. Grose and Flora.
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The Governess spends her second day at Bly getting to know Flora. They play outside for some time and eventually the governess asks Flora to take her on a tour of Bly. Flora agrees happily and shows the governess the place “step by step and room by room and secret by secret.” The governess deduces from this tour that Flora thinks her home to be a place full of wonder and a kind of fairytale magic.
The governess has already decided here that Flora’s innocence is genuine and one of her defining characteristics. She sees Flora’s appreciation for the estate as an endearing, youthful, innocent fantasy. As the story continues the governess will continue to see the estate as a place of magic and secrets, but of a darker sort. And she will come to see Flora's openness as a mask used to hide deeper truths.
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