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Escaping the Governess in The Turn of the Screw

Escaping the Governess in The Turn of the Screw

At the end of The Turn of the Screw, great ambiguity exists surrounding Miles’s death because serious questions remain about the credibility of the Governess who was the original author of the story. The ambiguity lies with the question of whom Miles was saved from at the end of the novel: the Governess or Quint. At the end of the novel the Governess holds Miles dead body in her arms and says, “…he has lost you for ever… We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped” (***). The “he” in “he has lost you for ever” could refer to Quint or the Governess. Additionally, the phrase “heart dispossessed” implies that some being lost possession of Mile’s heart upon his death. Hence, someone was attempting to possess or had possessed Mile’s heart during his life. At the end of the novel, there are only two beings in addition to Miles present: the Governess and possibly Quint. The Governess wants to believe that Quint is real and she is a maternal figure trying to save Miles from Quint’s grasp, who may have introduced Miles to sexual information. The truth, however, is that Quint only exists in the mind of the sexually deprived Governess who creates Quint to help herself cope with her longings for relations with the master, who might be represented by Miles. Moreover, since the social position of the Governess forces her to live away from all men, her motherly feelings towards Miles blur together with her longings for the master. Upon critical examination it can be concluded that upon his death Miles is not saved from Quint, but from the erotic longings of the Governess.

The Governess characterizes Quint, who is only her hallucin…

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…e. As a result of the Governess’s social position she is isolated from any males with the exception of Miles. Therefore, when Miles dies she is losing the object she uses for her sexual fantasies. The ambiguity about whom the “he” refers to is an essential part of the story. The story could never have been told without the ambiguity. The original author of the story is the Governess who is in denial that her motherly feelings for Miles have blurred with her own sexual desires that the social position of a Governess prevent her from fulfilling. She truly believes that her hallucination, Quint, is real. For this reason the truth about the Governess is not readily apparent through reading her story, but, after critical examination one must take the additional step and critically examine her story if one wants to find the truth hidden within her denial.

Freedom of Expression

One of the most controversial parts of the First Amendment of the US Constitution concerns freedom of expression. Some Americans, such as the Libertarians, feel there should be no censorship. On the other end of the spectrum are more conservative people, many religious, who believe there should be strict limits on what can be published.

Most people would agree it is a bad idea to publish or put on the Internet the plans for homemade bombs, biological weapons, or other devices which may be used to kill or maim someone. But in the name of freedom of the press, this information is available. Censors would like to make this practice illegal, because it may facilitate a crime. Others say criminals will always find a way to do what they want to do, without having to go to the library.

Those in favor of censorship would also like to keep acts of torture, murder, and executions off T.V., where children might see them. So far, television has been quite responsible in censoring itself and not broadcasting too many of these kinds of scenes. Usually they tell the viewer ahead of time what they are about to show “may be disturbing to some people.” Many death penalty opponents argue executions should be televised, hoping that when people see it they will want to outlaw the practice.

Sometimes freedom of the press goes too far, as in those cases where suspects are tried and convicted in the media before they even go to trial. The case of Richard Jewell, the security guard who was a suspect in the Atlanta bombing, is a good example of this. Even though the police found no evidence against him, some newsmen actually called him the bomber (he sued, and won). For the past few months, President Clinton has been tried i…

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….” 7 Feb. 1998.

(17 March 1998).

* LaMarche Gara. “Hate Speech Should Not Be Outlawed.” Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints.

Ed. Charles P. Cozic. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1994. 90-95.

* Otto, Jean. “Freedom of Expression Should Not Be Restricted.” Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints.

Ed. Charles P. Cozic. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1994. 79-84.

* Rupke, Roxanne. “Zeeland students to recommend T-shirt rules.” Holland Sentinel. 25 March 1998: A1, A5.

* Showers, Robert H. “Pornography Sould Be Prohibited.” Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints.

Ed. Charles P. Cozic. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1994. 96-102.

* “T-shirt ban: Pepsi shirt gets him in trouble on Coke Day at Greenbrier High.” Holland Sentinel.

26 March 1998: A1.

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