The Turn of the Screw: Ch. 19-24

Here we are, at the end of our winding way through the maze of The Turn of the Screw. Based on some of your reactions on Twitter, I’m going to start by saying that this book is expertly ambiguous, I warned you at the beginning of the readalong, and I am still puzzling over certain parts of this story (especially the end). If you want simple answers, or even just ANSWERS, you might be out of luck. But let’s work through it and see where we are at.

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Previously on TOTS: at the end of chapter 18, Butch Governess and the Grose Kid realized Flora had escaped the house while Miles was distracting them with his pianist wiles. Chapter 19 stresses me out because it evokes the panicked kind of searching one does when one is searching for a child, when said child has run off in a park or disappeared in a grocery store. TG and Mrs. Grose find Flora, who is incredibly unrepentant, similar to when she sneaked out of bed earlier, and similar to Miles when he sneaked outside the house. Flora is not bothered by everyone else’s panic, instead “smiled as if her performance had now become complete.” which again evokes relief/anger mix when after your panicked search you find the kid harmlessly playing nearby.

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TG’s bias is very strong in this chapter, because we’re swept up in the idea that Miles is off with Quint and Flora is with Jessel, but we don’t see any actual proof of it. For example, she claims, “They say things that, if we heard them, would simply appal us.” HOW DO YOU KNOW, TG? And then when the boat is missing, she says that “Our not seeing it is the strongest of proofs”, which really sums up her argument throughout this book. The absence of witnessing something horrible is stronger than actually witnessing it, if you have hints or knowledge of it happening.

Even once Jessel has appeared (in chapter 20), it isn’t clear whether she’s been with Flora or just come onto the scene. TG is elated: “She was there, so I was justified; she was there, so I was neither cruel nor mad.” However, to TG’s disappointment, Mrs. Grose can’t (or won’t?) see Jessel, and Flora can’t (or won’t?) see Jessel. TG is the only one who A. can see Jessell and B. admits to seeing her. Do you think Mrs. Grose can see and is lying, or that she can’t? What bond does TG have that enables her to see the ghosts? Is it because she’s replacing Jessel? Is it because she’s emotionally close to the kids? Or, is TG just crazy and Jessel isn’t even there?

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Personally, I think the book supports the idea that the ghosts are real. But it’s definitely a mess and could go several ways. If Jessel IS there, and Flora CAN see her, Flora’s grouchiness and rejection of TG is especially vicious; TG sees her as “hideously hard” and “common and almost ugly.” If TG is crazy, too many things in this story don’t add up and/or go unexplained. But I would also believe that Flora’s mere disagreement with TG would destroy her angelic beauty in TG’s eyes, because TG’s opinions are rather polarized that way.

Flora is so wound up by her outside adventure, TG’s sighting of Miss Jessel, and TG’s accusations to Flora, that the little girl makes herself sick. But is it from fear of TG’s insanity, or fear that TG will interfere with Jessel and Quint? According to Mrs. Grose, Flora is saying vicious, precocious, adult things about TG, which would support the idea that at the very least Flora was under a real bad influence in the past, and at the worst that Flora is currently under the influence of ghost Jessel and/or Quint.

“It’s beyond everything, for a young lady; and I can’t think where she must have picked up-“

“The appalling language she applies to me. I can, then!”

TG assures Mrs. Grose not to feel bad if she feels deceived by Flora, because “You’ve the cleverest little person to deal with.” The way TG talks about the kids is odd; sometimes she places all of the blame on the ghosts working their will through the kids, but sometimes she talks as if the kids, under the influence of the ghosts, are using their agency to be terrible awful sinners. Maybe she herself is confused on this point. In any case, she’s ludicrously happy that Flora is showing her true colors, so to speak, because “It so justifies me!” TG wants to put a stop to Quint and Jessel, but she also wants to make sure that she stands out as the one who hasn’t done anything wrong. Even though in the previous chapter, she admits to having lost Flora to Jessel, she agrees with Mrs. Grose to send the little girl away, in the hope that the ghosts’ influence will dissipate. I’m really not sure of the effectiveness of this plan.

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As pertains to Miles, Mrs. Grose has identified that Miles must have taken the letter which TG wrote and left on the table to be sent to the employer. After all, noooooooo one else in the house has motivations to keep things from the employer (right? Right??). TG still wants to save Miles, which she can’t do by taking him away from the house because REASONS, I guess? DISCUSS.

 

“If he confesses he’s saved. And if he’s saved-“

“Then you are?”

TG has her own salvation, or perhaps value in the eyes of the world/Mrs. Grose/her employer, wrapped up in what happens to the kids. So at this point in the story, TG feels that she knows everything that is going on with the ghosts, and her main goal is to get Miles to confess or to admit what is going on, and that he isn’t a perfect child but has been operating behind her back. If TG succeeds at this, she will have saved Miles because his facade will have dropped and the ghosts will have nothing to hide behind.

Miles returns from his own adventures in chapter 22, and TG is ready to have it out, but first they have to have a really awkward dinner with lots of vague table talk. TG has decided that her only hope lies in “taking “nature” into my confidence and my account, by treating my monstrous ordeal as a push in a direction unusual, of course, and unpleasant, but demanding after all, for a fair front, only another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue.” In short, what she’s saying is that she can’t react to this whole crazy situation by freaking out, or running away, or treating it like a joke or a trick. She has to react to it like she would any other difficult situation, rationally and with compassion, but realizing that it will test her to the limits.

I think what makes me especially suspicious of Miles at this point is how chill he is about his sister coming down ill and being sent away with no warning. It seems like a normal kid, especially one as close to his sister as he is, would be really worried and ask a lot of questions. But they have a very calm civil dinner, and TG is very proud of herself for acting so normal and saying that Flora’s “journey will dissipate the influence” of her “illness” i.e. the ghosts. I don’t think I agree with her strategy of forcing everything to be normal as much as possible, in the hope of tricking Miles into giving her information. Why isn’t it okay to at least ask straightforward questions???

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Chapter 23 really drives home that TG and Miles are queen and king of the land of vagueness. They talk about how “the others” are here with them, but they could be talking about the servants OR the ghosts. I think Miles especially is enjoying the vagueness and weird undertones. When TG asks Miles if he likes the freedom he has at Bly now that he is ignoring his lessons with her, Miles “stood there smiling; then at last he put into two words–” Do you?”–more discrimination than I had ever heard two words contain.” Pretty cheeky, but also interesting when you think about how free TG is at Bly. She’s one of many children to a country parson, and this is her first time away from home and independently making money. She’s also very free in terms of the kids – they don’t need or want her, and she can do whatever she wants, if she wasn’t so concerned with “saving” them.

All right, chapter 24. So here we are: Flora hates TG but is gone; Mrs. Grose still somehow believes in TG but is gone; TG wants to save Miles; Miles is feeling real chill about everything.

If we look at the “action” only:

  • Peter Quint shows up at the window
  • TG distracts Miles by grabbing him and hugging him
  • Peter Quint disappears from the window
  • Miles looks out of the window, removing himself from TG
  • Quint shows up again
  • TG grabs Miles again
  • Miles struggles to get free and see who is there
  • TG leaps at the window
  • Quint disappears
  • Miles looks out the window but sees nothing
  • Miles dies

Miles is described throughout the chapter as struggling to speak or breath, and as “feverish.” It’s unclear if this is because TG is physically restraining him or because psychologically he is struggling to free himself from TG and/or Quint.

As far as things we learn through the dialogue: Miles admits to stealing the letter to his uncle, ostensibly to find out what TG was saying about him. Miles admits to “saying things” to boys at school he liked; I have no idea what that means but I assume he is a budding sociopath, due to Quint’s influence. Miles asks, “is she here?” and doesn’t disagree with TG when she names “she” as Miss Jessel. You could argue Miles meant Flora; but I’m not sure why he would be so desperate. Once Miles asks, “It’s he?” TG pins him down to admit that Miles means Peter Quint, whom he has not mentioned or named once up to this point.

Miles doesn’t seem to actually see Quint at any point in the scene. TG successfully keeps him from doing so, possibly because Quint is more powerful when Miles knows he’s there. I’m not sure how TG’s physical presence gets Quint to leave, while at the same time Quint’s absence kills Miles.

Of course, there’s the alternate reading, in which TG is completely deranged and kills Miles through a combination of terror and physical assault. I don’t quite buy this, but I really appreciate that the book can simultaneously support two wildly different interpretations.

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What do you think? Which reading do you think is better supported by the story/characters/dialog/action? Or is there a third option that I’m not addressing? If you haven’t read the comments on these posts, I encourage you to read a very interesting theory that Kim commented on an earlier post. I’m sure there are others you might come up with.

Thank you for joining me on this readalong!

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Myth Monday: Who’s Who in The Blood of Olympus

Welcome back to Myth Monday, where I talk about myths and books and myths in books. You can catch up on Myth Monday here. You can catch up on my Who’s Who in Percy Jackson posts here.

The Monsters

The Giants

This is the last book in the Heroes of Olympus series. The giants are the Big Bads, although as we’ve seen, there are plenty of other baddies. I’ll run down the list of giants who are still living at the beginning of this book:

Gaea: Gaea is the Titan of earth and the real villain of the Heroes of Olympus. She was married to Uranus (the sky) until she convinced her kids to chop him up in pieces. She was defeated by the gods in the Titan war. Throughout this series, she’s been trying to wake up, and in The Blood of Olympus, she succeeds at last in waking up via the use of, you guessed it, the blood of Olympus. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because a lady who can spawn anywhere on the ground is unsettling, and this lady is POWERFUL.

Porphyrion: Porphyrion is one of the giants who fought for the Titans, a son of Gaea, and the antithesis of the god Zeus. Porphyrion was raised from Tartarus by all the baddies working together back in The Lost Hero, and has become king of the giants. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because all of these giants blur together for me, to be honest.

Polybotes: Polybotes is a giant and the antithesis to Poseidon, god of the sea (and Percy’s dad). Polybotes gets a little pissed because during the war between the gods and the giants, Poseidon dropped an island on top of him. Polybotes has it out for Poseidon and all of his descendants, and shows up again in this book and ultimately has to fight Poseidon and Percy because we’re into poetic justice.  4/5 Monstrous Rating because he’s got a more interesting backstory than most of these giant bros.

Enceladus: Enceladus is another Titan son of Gaea, and the antithesis to Athena. He is finally defeated in The Blood of Olympus by Athena and her daughter Annabeth working together. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being an incredibly boring giant.

Hippolytos: Ok here’s a fun one (?maybe). Hippolytos is another giant/Titan blah blah blah, but he has a grudge against Hermes because apparently, back during the Titan war, Hermes a) stole Hades’ cap of invisibility and b) used it to defeat Hippolytos. RUDE. In The Blood of Olympus, Hippolytos wants nothing more than to defeat the gods and replace Hermes as the messenger of the Titans. But alas. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being hilarious.

Periboia: Sooooo this lady is a little confusing because she’s referenced as the daughter of the giant-king Eurymedon, but Eurymedon might be another name for Alcyoneous. YOU DECIDE. In The Blood of Olympus, Riordan chose to make her the daughter of Porphyrion (because if we’re being confusing, we might as well go all the way). Periboia really wants to kill some demigods, and has to fight Aphrodite and her daughter Piper. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for extreme viciousness.

Thoon: Oh geez these keep getting more confusing. Ok, so this guy is also known as Thoas, and he has a brother named Agrios, and they’re both giants, ok, ok, good so far. The brothers killed by the Fates (the Moirai) during the war with the giants way back in the day. However, in The Blood of Olympus, Riordan basically combines both of the brothers into one character, Thoon, and he is the antithesis of the Fates and hoping to kill their faces. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because that’s confusing and there was a lot of hype for this guy and then he did nothing.

Mimas: *long, drawn out sigh* All right, Mimas. He’s a giant (surprise!). He was defeated in the giant war by: A. Hephaestus B. Ares C. Zeus YOU CHOOSE because different sources say different things. In The Blood of Olympus, Riordan combines these ideas in an interesting way by making him the antithesis to Hephaestus, HOWEVER, he explains that Mimas had to fight Ares as well, because Mimas’ brother Damasen (who we met in HoH) refused to fight because Damasen is a beautiful healing teddy bear of love. Mimas shows up in a temple to Phobos and Deimos (Panic and Terror) to terrorize Piper and Annabeth (but of course the girls own his face). 4/5 Monstrous Rating cuz he’s legit scary.

Orion: He’s kinda a big deal, you might have heard of him. He’s a giant but not a Giant, if you know what I mean. He’s possibly the son of Euryale and Poseidon, OR he’s possibly a magic baby made from a bull-hide and god-pee. Yeah, you heard me. Pick the one you like. Orion is not the classiest guy. His first wife Side gets sent to Hades for competing with Hera, but he falls in love with another girl, Merope, who he rapes and then Merope’s dad blinds him. Then, after Orion has been cured of his blindness (because Zeus understands not being able to control oneself (UGH)), he hunts with Artemis for a while. Orion finally gets killed off either because he brags about being the best and is stung to death by a scorpion; or because Apollo tricks Artemis into shooting him in an archery contest; or a combination! In The Blood of Olympus, Orion is back from the dead and ready to shoot any girl who looks at him sideways. Or really any girl, because Orion has no coping abilities. He’s finally decapitated by Reyna, the baddest girl of them all. 5/5 Monstrous Rating for being the Absolute Worst.

Supporting Baddies

The Suitors (led by Antinous): These losers are the guys in The Odyssey who hang around Penelope’s house and try to convince her to marry them, even though Penelope is ALREADY MARRIED to a guy who is just taking the (really really really) long way home. Antinous is the chief of these, the worst, and the first one Odysseus kills when he finally returns. In The Blood of Olympus, all of the suitors have joined Gaea’s army because of course they have, but they’re not the smartest ghosts in the bunch. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Lemures: Lemures are the bad kind of ghosts: upset, restless, and malicious. We’ve seen lares in this series already; lares are the chill, just-hanging-out-to-support-our-family kind of Roman ghost, whereas lemures are the kind that want to ruin the lives of the living. In The Blood of Olympus, the suitors fall in this category, and have all signed up with Gaea. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Lycaon: Lycaon was a king of Arcadia. There are bunch of different myths about him. Most of the stories (and certainly the most popular ones) entail Lycaon serving entrails of a child (his own??) into a meal for Zeus, in order to prove that Zeus doesn’t know everything. Zeus does not approve of this kind of shenanigans (eating kids OR trying to fool him), and turns Lycaon and his 50 sons into wolves. I love werewolves but this guy is pretty icky. Previously on Heroes of Olympus we saw Lycaon and his wolves in The Lost Hero, but in The Blood of Olympus they’re minions of Orion Still kinda the worst, and we don’t see what ultimately happens to Lycaon. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty darn monstrous.

Kekrops (Cecrops): In mythology, Cecrops was a king of Athens. In The Blood of Olympus, Kekrops is supposedly the mythical first king of Athens, and a worshiper of Athena. However, in this version, Kekrops has decided to work with Gaea because he thinks its the best way for his people and city to prosper. He’s also….a snake-person? Honestly I’m not sure where Riordan got the inspiration for snake-Kekrops and his treacherous plans against the demigods. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because it’s child’s play for Piper to sweet-talk the snake.

Gods and Goddesses (ranging from Minor to Obscure)

Nike: Nike (or Victoria in Roman myths) is the Goddess of victory. She’s experiencing a bad case of schizophrenia in The Blood of Olympus due to the infighting between Roman and Greek demigods.

Phobos and Deimos: Mentioned above, they’re the sons of Ares, and the gods of Panic and Terror, which are often found on battlefields. Obviously.

Kymopoleia: Kym was a sea-nymph, a daughter of Poseidon, and the wife of Briares (the hundred-handed-one). In The Blood of Olympus, she’s sick of Poseidon and other sea-gods getting all of the glory. Fortunately, our heroes are able to strike a deal with her so that she enlists with the gods rather than Gaea.

Asclepius and Hygeia: Asclepius was a mortal son of Apollo and a great healer. One thing led to another and he managed to raise someone from the dead, so Zeus threw a lightning bolt at him. At some point, Asclepius became a god himself, the god of healing. His daughter Hygeia (“Health”) is where we get the word “hygiene” from. In The Blood of Olympus, the demigods need Asclepius’ help to create a cure, you know, just in case. Hygeia is present only in robot-form because of reasons.

The Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Blood of Olympus. Disney Hyperion, 2014. Print.

Tripp, Edward. The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology. Meridian, 1970. Print.

Scripture Sunday (40)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. My translation is the New International Version.

From my reading this week:

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things,and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Why I chose it:

The early church was amazing. How lucky we are to have heard the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

The Turn of the Screw: Further Reading

We’re almost done with the readalong. Some of you have finished the book. Some of you have read the book before. If you are completely confused, JOIN THE REST OF US. If you loved it and want more, read on! Below I have listed some Turn of the Screw retellings, a Turn of the Screw sequel, and some Turn of the Screw-contemporary ghost stories.

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Miles and Flora (1997) by Hilary Bailey is a sequel, centered on Flora, grown up and haunted by Miles. This book sounds incredibly bad but I’m mentioning it anyway as an interesting premise. What do you think Flora would be like as an adult (if she makes it that long)?

A Jealous Ghost (2005) by A. N. Wilson is a retelling of sorts about a woman working on her phD thesis (which is about The Turn of the Screw because of course) and decides to take a job as a nanny at a country house. That sounds…fine.  Nothing could go wrong.

Florence & Giles (2010) by John Harding is a retelling from Flora’s point of view; the names are changed but the plot sounds really similar. It also has a 5-star rating by Maggie Stiefvater so color me interested.

The Turning (2012) by Francine Prose is a YA retelling about a modern-day teen stuck with no wifi and a couple of kids because  how else is a teenager going to earn money??? (what.) Having nothing better to do, he writes longhand letters to his girlfriend. This sounds like a terrible premise that will end badly.

Tighter (2011) by Adele Griffin is another YA retelling about another teen working as a nanny for the summer. It sounds like this one explores the reasons behind why the nanny-character is the only one who can see the ghosts, and what kind of connection that is. In-ter-est-ing.

Edith Wharton was a contemporary author of Henry James and has written many amazing books including The Touchstone and The Age of Innocence. She also wrote a collection of ghost stories called Ghost Stories that I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Here’s an article giving some reasons to read it.

Robert Louis Stevenson has a ghost story called The Body Snatcher (1884). It’s about body-snatchers, aka criminals in this era who stole bodies from graveyards to sell to doctors, medical students, etc etc, and who were sometimes accused of murdering people for the bodies to sell. Gross. Sign me up for this story though because I love RLS.

Rudyard Kipling has a story set in India, At the End of the Passage (1890) about a British officer who is either haunted or hallucinating, and has a super fun time.

Was it an Illusion? (1881)  by Amelia B. Edwards is a contemporary-with-TOTS story about a school inspector who sees mysterious figures while traveling. It explores the blurry line between hallucination and the supernatural, which was a big topic of discussion in the Victorian era.

 The Open Door (1882) by Charlotte Riddell (1882) is a sensational Victorian story about a  haunted great house with a mysterious door. Who keeps opening the door and why? I personally have a huge fear of unexpectedly open doors so I’m into this.

 

Lost Hearts (1895) by M.R. James is about an orphan boy who is taken in by a distant relative, in a house where two children disappeared. I’m guessing the missing kids show up and haunt the hell out of him.

 

HAPPY READING, PUMPKIN FRIENDS!

The Turn of the Screw: Ch. 13-18

On the one hand, I love Mrs. Grose (besides her charactonym), and on the other, if I was trapped working at a haunted house with two precocious children, Mrs. Grose would NOT be my sidekick of choice.

Hello and welcome back, turn of the screaders!

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me looking at you with love and appreciation 

Today we discuss chapters 13-18 of this ghostwreck! You just can’t look away, CAN YOU?

Ok so can we talk about the fake-letters bit? I realize that TG’s employer/the kids’ uncle is a careless loserpit, and that there is no way that he would read letters from his niece and nephew, but ? Um? TG allowing the kids to write letters to their uncle while simultaneously assuring them that he will NEVER RECEIVE THEM is a really terrible move. Like, just tell them it’s not going to happen. Don’t lead the kids on with ideas that their uncle gives a shit about them (he DOES NOT.).

Of course, just when I’m feeling bad for the kids, TG assures me that they are master manipulators and I feel bad. TG realizes that while the kids never ever talk about their pasts, “they were in possession of everything that had ever happened to me.” On the one hand, this is a pretty typical kid thing to do because adults seem really interesting and full of stories, and on the other, TG always manages to word it in a way that makes me really suspicious and uncomfortable. Knowledge is power, after all, and these kids know EVERYTHING about her.

There’s also the bit about Strange Stillnesses in this chapter: “There were times of our being together when I would have been ready to swear that, literally, in my presence, but with my direct sense of it closed, they had visitors who were known and were welcome.” TG’s awareness and commentary on these quiet spells around the house are one of the many moments where we are 100% reliant on TG’s interpretation of an event. TG finds it suspicious that the kids don’t find the stillnesses, but maybe they don’t even notice because it’s a perfectly normal quiet time, not ghosts creepin in and hangin out with them in total silence.

My favorite part of chapter 14 is when TG is completely honest to Miles on one point, which is that “I don’t think your uncle much cares.” THIS IS AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT POINT, WHETHER OR NOT YOU GOT GHOSTS ON THE PREMISES.

Miles doesn’t believe her, which is just, well, his prerogative but is definitely a point against his trustworthiness and a point in TG’s favor. This chapter shows how aware Miles is of his masculine power and position in society. I don’t mean that he’s a full-grown man or possessed by a full-grown man (TG means that, for sure).

“Miles’s whole title to independence, the rights of his sex and situation, were so stamped upon him that if he had suddenly struck for freedom I should have had nothing to say.”

Even if there’s no ghosts involved,  Miles is  aware of what “his own sort” is, whether he means his peers, the ghosts, or lechers (like his role model Quint). Miles accuses TG of keeping him from becoming a man, which, first, ew,  and second, maybe calm down with your fragile masculinity and feeling threatened by your own governess just because she won’t send you to school.

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completely done with Miles tbh 

TG starts asking the important questions in this chapter; for example: “Why did they never resent my inexorable, my perpetual society?” She’s haunting them just like the ghosts, and these kids just put up with it for seventeen whole chapters.

As distressed as TG continues to be, I think we need to admit that Miss Jessel is pretty miserable as well. So far we’ve only seen her twice and both times she’s been collapsed with her head in her hands, rather than malevolently stealing souls or whatever. It’s noteworthy that when TG  decides to leave, only to see Miss Jessel appearing to take possession of her schoolroom, TG has a complete turnaround. TG’s pride won’t let her leave now that she’s been so directly challenged by her dead peer: “she had looked at me long enough to appear to say that her right to sit at my table was as good as mine to sit at hers.”

In chapter 16, TG is incredibly irritated when neither the children nor Mrs. Grose make ANY comment on TG’s absence from church. I shouldn’t laugh but I did. I realize that TG is upset because their normal behavior would dictate that one of them would mention her absence, or ask questions, or accuse her, and that their atypical behavior is her problem. But it looks kind of childish for TG to hinge so much weight on the lack of commentary on missing a church service.

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“they don’t love meeeeeeeeeee” – TG 

In any case, the important point from this interaction is that the children can manipulate Mrs. Grose easily: “Oh yes, they asked me to say nothing; and to please them- so long as they were there-of course I promised.” However, they seem to have lost the ability to similarly manipulate TG’s behavior; she seems to be staying because of her interaction with Miss Jessel more than anything else.

And then there’s this bit where TG lies through her teeth. She tells Mrs. Grose about seeing Miss Jessel, which is true, but then she implies that they had a conversation. Mrs. Grose asks, “Do you mean she spoke?” and TG answers “It came to that.” and goes on to specify that Miss Jessel said “she suffers the torments” “of the damned.”

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Let’s all take a moment to side-eye this blatant falsehood.

I realize that TG and Miss Jessel got down to some serious eye-vibing, but at no point did Miss Jessel say anything. So here’s my question: Is the only time TG lies through her teeth, or is this the only time we catch her at it?

DISCUSS!

TG has also come to some conclusions about Miles, including that Miles must have been expelled “For wickedness. For what else-when he’s so clever and beautiful and perfect?” TG has a lot of feelings about Miles, but I like that she still can’t get any more specific on his expulsion than “wickedness.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN.

TG finally gets almost a heart-to-heart with Miles in chapter 17, where she admits that “his secret precocity…forced me to treat him as an intelligent equal” implying that Quint’s influence (or possession) is making Miles more adult than is normal. I’m not sure what I think about that, but I do know that Miles’ admission “I want a new field” is possibly the most disturbing thing he’s said or done. Am I oversensitive? Is this a normal thing for a homebound kid to say? The connotation of “field” suggests competition or battle, which is why it makes me concerned about his motivations.

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What do you think about Miles’ wish to talk to his uncle? It doesn’t seem like his uncle has ever shown any inclination to care about talking to Miles. If Miles is influenced by or possessed by Quint, it might make more sense that Miles would rely on his uncle, since Quint seems to have been friends with (?????acquaintance of???? minion????) him.

TG comparing herself and Miles to Saul and David was probably the weirdest expression she uses in this book. Like….what.

In any case, by seducing her with music, Miles distracts TG from her haunting long enough for Flora to get away. I continue to be amazed at how useless Mrs. Grose is in a crisis, but the way TG leaps from conclusion to conclusion is also bizarre. She’s been watching Miles this whole time and she suddenly decides he can go to the devil and do whatever he wants? Why didn’t they recruit him to the search?

giphy (96)
see you next tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime

The Turn of the Screw: Viewing Material!

There have been many film, stage, and tv adaptations of The Turn of the Screw; a lot more than I expected, actually, and as recently as 2009.  I haven’t seen any of them but I’ve compiled a list if you’re interested.

The Innocents (1961), directed by Jack Clayton is the most famous one, and to me it’s the scariest of the these trailers.

The Turn of the Screw (1959),directed by John Frankenheimer looks like a really bad tv movie BUT it stars Ingrid Bergman which makes me want to watch it.

The Nightcomers (1972), directed by Michael Winner is a prequel to the novella and looks really, really ew.

The Turn of The Screw (1992) directed by Rusty Lemorande, is set in the 1960s for some reason, and looks epically bad. Why did you make these choices, Rusty.

In a Dark Place (2006), directed by Donato Rotunno is more of a modern-day retelling where the protagonist is a nanny and everything is terrible.

The Turn of the Screw (2009), adapted by Sandy Welch for the BBC looks promising and stars Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens, making me think this is some sort of Downton Abbey Gothic AU fanfic.

There’s also a 1999 adaptation with Jodhi May and Colin Firth, but I can’t find a trailer. Here’s the beginning clip, if interested.

Last but not least, here is a video comparing four different versions of Peter Quint at the window. What I think is interesting and really unfortunate about all four is that they’re all really clear and close-up. What I think is scariest about the window scene (and the tower scene, and the stairway scene, for that matter) is that the distance and/or obscurity makes it a lot more intense. You fear what you don’t see more than what you do, and putting the governess eye to eye with a random dude outside a window is scary, yes, but more in a “let me fetch my gun” house invasion way than an unsettling and supernatural terror.

Scripture Sunday (39)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. My translation is the New International Version.

From my reading this week:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Why I chose it: 

It’s really easy to get caught up in drama between church members and fellow Christians. It’s really easy to judge each other. It’s gotta stop. These verses and others like it are always really convicting for me personally. We gotta love each other, even the ones we disagree with or are annoyed by,  the way Jesus loves us: totally and unconditionally.