The Turn of the Screw


Henry James

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The Turn of the Screw: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

After seeing the strange man up in the tower, the governess returns into the home and sees Mrs. Grose in the hall. She decides not to say anything to Mrs. Grose about the event, though, and she hurries up into her room.
The governess’s reluctance to talk with Mrs. Grose about her encounter with the strange man indicates the beginning of the gap of secrecy that will later grow between the two.
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Literary Devices
The governess describes her developing relationship with the children. She says that she is both developing an intimate familiarity with them and also finding in them “constant surprises” (though she does not explain what those surprises are in any detail). She mentions that Miles’s behavior is so consistently kind that the cause of his expulsion from school is pushed into “deep obscurity”—she cannot imagine that there was anything cruel or evil about him.
The governess becomes more confused by Miles’s outward appearance of innocence. His outward appearance is so persuasive that the doubts she had about his behavior are practically erased. But it is important to note that she calls this a progression into “obscurity”: in hindsight, she sees Mile's behavior as a purposeful effort at deception, rather than the development of authentic trust between the two of them.
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Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
The chapter finishes with the governess’s description of another encounter with the strange man. While on her way out of the home to go to church with Mrs. Grose and the children, she remembers that she left her gloves inside. While in the room where she went to retrieve her gloves, she sees through the window the man, staring “deep and hard” into her eyes. She runs outside to see if she can catch the man, but by the time she’s outside the man had left. It was as if he had vanished: she is convinced that the dense shrubbery isn’t concealing him. When she looked through the window, back into the room where she had stood, she saw Mrs. Grose standing where she had stood moments before.
The governess’s second encounter with Quint's ghost is now at eye-level, so she is more struck by the man this time than she was before. Her sense now seems to be that this man poses some kind of threat, which explains her quick reaction to pursue him outside. Her pursuit of the ghost also attests to her strong belief that protecting the children is her role and her commitment to fulfilling that role.
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Literary Devices