The Turn of the Screw

Peter Quint Character Analysis

Formerly the valet at Bly, Quint is the first ghost the governess encounters at the estate. According to Mrs. Grose, he was something of a scoundrel while alive, and apparently a bad influence on the children, Miles in particular. Mrs. Grose also says that he had a scandalous relationship with Miss Jessel.

Peter Quint Quotes in The Turn of the Screw

The The Turn of the Screw quotes below are all either spoken by Peter Quint or refer to Peter Quint. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet Classics edition of The Turn of the Screw published in 2007.
Chapter 3 Quotes

That was exactly present to me—by which I mean the face was—when, on the first of these occasions, at the end of a long June day, I stopped short on emerging from one of the plantations and coming into view of the house. What arrested me on the spot—and with a shock much greater than any vision had allowed for—was the sense that my imagination had, in a flash, turned real. He did stand there!

Related Characters: The Governess (speaker), Peter Quint
Page Number: 302
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

There were shrubberies and big trees, but I remember the clear assurance I felt that none of them concealed him. He was there or was not there: not there if I didn't see him.

Related Characters: The Governess (speaker), Peter Quint
Related Symbols: Windows
Page Number: 309
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

"The children?"
"I can't leave them now."
"You're afraid—?"
I spoke boldly. "I'm afraid of HIM."
Mrs. Grose's large face showed me, at this, for the first time, the faraway faint glimmer of a consciousness more acute: I somehow made out in it the delayed dawn of an idea I myself had not given her and that was as yet quite obscure to me.

Related Characters: The Governess (speaker), Mrs. Grose (speaker), Miles, Flora, Peter Quint
Page Number: 311
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

"He was looking for someone else, you say—someone who was not you?"
"He was looking for little Miles." A portentous clearness now possessed me. "That’s whom he was looking for."
"But how do you know?"
"I know, I know, I know!" My exaltation grew. "And you know, my dear!"

Related Characters: The Governess (speaker), Mrs. Grose (speaker), Miles, Peter Quint
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Oh, it wasn't him!" Mrs. Grose with emphasis declared. "It was Quint's own fancy. To play with him, I mean—to spoil him." She paused a moment; then she added: "Quint was much too free."
This gave me, straight from my vision of his face—such a face!—a sudden sickness of disgust. "Too free with my boy?"
"Too free with everyone!"

Related Characters: The Governess (speaker), Mrs. Grose (speaker), Miles, Peter Quint
Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

"Why, of the very things that have delighted, fascinated, and yet, at bottom, as I now so strangely see, mystified and troubled me. Their more than earthly beauty, their absolutely unnatural goodness. It's a game," I went on; "it's a policy and a fraud!"
"On the part of little darlings—?"
"As yet mere lovely babies? Yes, mad as that seems!" The very act of bringing it out really helped me to trace it—follow it all up and piece it all together. "They haven't been good—they've only been absent. It has been easy to live with them, because they're simply leading a life of their own. They're not mine—they're not ours. They're his and they're hers!"
"Quint's and that woman's?"
"Quint's and that woman's. They want to get to them."

Related Characters: The Governess (speaker), Mrs. Grose (speaker), Miles, Flora, Peter Quint, Miss Jessel
Page Number: 344
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

“She's with her?"
"She's with her!" I declared. "We must find them."
My hand was on my friend's arm, but she failed for the moment, confronted with such an account of the matter, to respond to my pressure. She communed, on the contrary, on the spot, with her uneasiness. "And where's Master Miles?"
"Oh, he’s with Quint. They're in the schoolroom."
"Lord, miss!" My view, I was myself aware—and therefore I suppose my tone—had never yet reached so calm an assurance.
"The trick's played," I went on; "they’ve successfully worked their plan. He found the most divine little way to keep me quiet while she went off."
"'Divine'?" Mrs. Grose bewilderedly echoed.

Related Characters: The Governess (speaker), Mrs. Grose (speaker), Miles, Flora, Peter Quint, Miss Jessel
Page Number: 368
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 24 Quotes

"It's he?"
I was so determined to have all my proof that I flashed into ice to challenge him. "Whom do you mean by 'he'?"
"Peter Quint—you devil!" His face gave again, round the room, its convulsed supplication. "Where?"
…"What does he matter now, my own?—what will he EVER matter? I have you," I launched at the beast, "but he has lost you forever!" Then, for the demonstration of my work, "There, there!" I said to Miles.
But he had already jerked straight round, stared, glared again, and seen but the quiet day. With the stroke of the loss I was so proud of he uttered the cry of a creature hurled over an abyss…We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped.

Related Characters: The Governess (speaker), Miles (speaker), Peter Quint
Page Number: 395
Explanation and Analysis:

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Peter Quint Character Timeline in The Turn of the Screw

The timeline below shows where the character Peter Quint appears in The Turn of the Screw. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
...that he was a gentleman. Mrs. Grose concludes that the man she described was Peter Quint, who was once the valet for the children’s uncle, who had stayed behind after the... (full context)
Chapter 6
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...Grose as her confidante, she resolves to protect the children from what her encounters with Quint led her to believe was a threatening environment. (full context)
Secrecy Theme Icon
The narrative returns to the governess’s conversation with Mrs. Grose about her encounters with Quint. At the end of the conversation, the governess mentions that she believes Quint had been... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...children’s former governess. Mrs. Grose calls Miss Jessel a dubious character, and she says that Quint “did what he wished” with her, which the governess interprets to mean that the two... (full context)
Chapter 8
Storytelling Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...Grose to say that Miles had been secretive about the time he had spent with Quint. The governess continues to prod, and she infers from Mrs. Grose’s frazzled description of Miles’s... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Supernatural Theme Icon
...of reflection, the narrative moves forward to the night of the governess’s third encounter with Quint. One night, while reading in her room—a room she shares with Flora—she perceives in the... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
The governess returns to her room after her encounter with Quint. She is terrified to notice that Flora’s bed is now empty—the curtain around it now... (full context)
The Supernatural Theme Icon
...the room they share to explore the area of the house where she had seen Quint. She does not see Quint again in the home, but she does encounter Miss Jessel... (full context)
Chapter 12
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...tells Mrs. Grose she believes the two children were meeting secretly with the ghosts of Quint and Miss Jessel. She tells Mrs. Grose that the children only seemed to be well-behaved... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...and Flora were conspiring against her. She believes the children know that she had seen Quint and Miss Jessel, and she believes further that the children know that she’s aware of... (full context)
Chapter 16
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...neither can hold it against Miles, and they blame his expulsion alternatively on his uncle, Quint, Miss Jessel, and Mrs. Grose herself (for allowing the children to go on meeting with... (full context)
Chapter 19
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...about what the children must say when they meet secretly to discuss Miss Jessel and Quint. She tells Mrs. Grose that the children likely say things that are horribly appalling, though... (full context)
Chapter 24
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
...to have sent to his uncle, she notices through the room’s window the face of Quint, staring threateningly into the room. The governess reacts to this with another surge of her... (full context)
The Supernatural Theme Icon
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
Suddenly, Quint reappears at the window. The governess latches onto Miles, and yells at Quint. Miles then... (full context)