Theme Of Ambiguity In Henry James The Turn Of The Screw

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In Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, the reader is pulled in two directions as he or she must decide for himself or herself if the ghosts are simply projections of the governess’ unconscious or if they are truly haunting both Miles and Flora. These two differing viewpoints are a direct result of James’ use of ambiguity of the text. James’ story then changes from a simple ghost story about a governess, two ghosts, and two children to a story filled with ambiguity and questions, which contribute to the overall uneasy, eerie, and uncanny feeling produced. The development of the uncanny through James’ use of ambiguity within the text opens up a new perspective of the text that offers a new, deeper meaning of the text itself as well as the characters within the text. Dolar defines one source of the uncanny as “the point where the real immediately coincides with the symbolic to be put into the service of the imaginary” (15). In other words, the real, …show more content…
The ambiguity surrounding both the ending of the story as well as the times the governess encountered the ghosts contribute to the overall uneasiness felt by the reader. The reader’s need for answers does not like the unfamiliar aspects surrounding the story and so he or she pushes to interpret the text, which creates a whole new deeper, more complex level of the story and characters. The reader begins to question the governess’ sanity and Douglas’ reliability. The constant cycle between familiarity and unfamiliarity is what has been defined as the uncanny. The uncanny aspects of this narrative reveal a deeper meaning and through the many interpretations generated, one can hope to find one that allows the unfamiliar to become

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