how Henry James, in his novella “The Turn of the Screw”, harnessed the former elements of gothic conventionality with the latterly psychological introspective of hisera, creating a multi-faceted literary melange which abounded with theme anddevice.Gothic has traditionally been housed within edificially foreboding surroundings whichencased fear and trepidation. Thornfield Manor, in Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ wascharacterised by it’s, “antiquity, its retirement, its old crow trees and thorn trees, itsgrey façade, and lines of dark windows.”
Similarly, ‘Wuthering Heights’ was clothedby, “a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving the almsof the sun.”
Within ‘the Turn of the Screw’, Bly is emblematic of this Gothic tradition.It features, “empty chambers and dull corridors, on crooked staircases...on thesummit of an old machicolated square tower that made me dizzy.”
Thus the edificialboundaries are set, housing the classically gothic heroine, naive and alone with, “avision of serious duties and little company, of really grave loneliness.”
Like JaneEyre, the apparently selfless governess is seen to be in love with the master of thehouse. This is a classically ironic paradox, the repressed yet efficient governessreduced by an oppressive Victorian society to imaginings of requited affection whichtranscend class barriers that are shown to be ultimately fatal if crossed.Consequently, Rochester and Jane Eyre realise their love but with horrific physicalconsequences for Rochester, similarly the governess is seen to be motivated by lovein pursuance of her ultimately fatal mission, “a service admirable and difficult...therewould be greatness in letting it be seen-oh, in the right quarter!”
Therefore love, oftencited by romantic novelists of the era as an agent for realising the conventional
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, (Ware, Wordsworth Editions Ltd,1992),p.124.
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, (Ware, Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1992),p2.
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, (New York, Dover Publications Inc., 1991),p9.