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The Destructiveness of Heroism
Transcript of The Destructiveness of Heroism
The Turn of the Screw
The Tragic Flaw
*The tragic flaw of the governess is her desire to be the hero. *
- Assuming the ghosts
Her tendency to take responsibility for problems outside her control without seeking help from the master leads to both her own downfall and that of the children.
-Assuming the ghosts
are not real
Her need to be protector of the children and win the affection of the master blinds her to the reality of the situation: that she is suffocating the children and driving herself to madness.
What's with the Title?
The motion of 'turning the screw' is a metaphor for the control exercised on the governess by the idealistic nature of heroism. Her feelings of responsibility and her self- induced obligation to protect the children is the force that, in the end, drives her insane.... or in other words, 'turns the screw'.
The Governess- Main Points
-She takes on too much responsibility for her state of experience
-Because of her tragic flaw, the Governess fails to be a hero and protect the children
-The Governess' policing has done more harm than good to the children
Heroism- heroic conduct especially as exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end. (Merriam-Webster)
The "Noble End"
The governess keeps the job in order to achieve certain "noble ends":
- She wants to win the master's love/affection
- Infatuation with the hero archetype
- She wishes to be the protector of the children
"But I was in these days literally able to find a joy in the extraordinary flight of heroism the occasion demanded of me. I now saw that I had been asked for a service admirable and difficult;and there would be a greatness in letting it be seen."(James 44)
Reasons why the governess takes on the job:
-The master's attractiveness
- Naivete, idealism; this early characterization the governess indicates her vulnerability, thus foreshadowing the turmoil to come.
The Significance of the Ghosts
If the ghosts
are not real
: ->The governess 'creates' the ghosts as a vehicle to protect the children.
Mrs. Grose is a foil here because she does not attempt to stop the governess,who is apparently insane.
If the ghosts
: ->Mrs. Grose serves as a foil to the governess because she denies seeing the ghosts, and thus denies responsibility for the children's well-being.
"Their uncle must do the preventing. He must take them away."
"And who's to make him?" (James 71)
Miles' Death- The Turn of the Screw (BBC 2009)
-The Governess' instinct to protect the children backfires
-Flora becomes scared of the governess and leaves due to illness
- Miles states, "Peter Quint - you devil" (James 123)
-In the end it can be interpreted that the governess smothered/ suffocated Miles to death.
- "These were the moments I knew myself to catch them up by an irresistible impulse and press them to my heart". (James 57)