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An Innocence Worse than Evil in The Turn of the Screw

  • Michelle H. Phillips
Chapter
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Abstract

Innocence has long been a hallmark of Romanticized childhood, and it is the special target for modernism’s disillusioned gaze. The Turn of the Screw is unparalleled, I argue, less for the highly effective way that it invites readers to imagine evil and more for the doubt that it casts on the value of childhood innocence. Innocence is as haunting, as nebulous, and as suspect, in James’s novella, as are the ghosts of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. Even if the evil spirits are real, they are not the cause of the illness and death in the novel. Rather, it is the governess’s relentless pursuit and policing of the children’s innocence that results in the undoing of Flora, Miles, and the governess herself.

Keywords

Fairy Tale Evil Spirit Blank Slate Childhood Innocence Frame Narrator 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle H. Phillips
    • 1
  1. 1.Howard UniversityFairfaxUSA

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