Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
It is a pleasant afternoon in June when the governess first arrives at the country estate at Bly, where she is to take charge of Miles, age ten, and Flora, eight. She faces her new position with some trepidation because of the unusual circumstances of her situation. The two children are to be under her complete care, and their uncle, who engaged her, has been explicit in stating that he does not wish to be bothered with his orphaned niece and nephew. Her uneasiness disappears, however, when she sees her charges, for Flora and Miles seem incapable of giving the slightest trouble.
The weeks of June pass uneventfully. Then, one evening, while she is walking in the garden at twilight, the governess is startled to see a strange young man at a distance. The man looks at her in a manner that suggests a challenge and then disappears. The incident angers and distresses the young woman; she decides that the man is a trespasser.
On the following Sunday evening, the governess is again startled to see the same stranger looking in at her through a window. He stares piercingly at her for a few seconds and then disappears. This time the governess realizes that the man had been looking for someone in particular, and she thinks that perhaps he bodes evil for the children in her care. A few minutes later, the governess tells the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, of the incident and describes the appearance of the man. Mrs. Grose tells her that it is a perfect description...
(The entire section is 1228 words.)
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Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Ghost stories would appear at first not to be James’s natural genre, but like all of his mature fiction, The Turn of the Screw exhibits important complications. The tale is framed by a nameless narrator relating how one evening a man identified only as Douglas read a manuscript—which is the story one is about to read—to an audience eager to hear a ghost story. From the outset, then, the story is placed at several removes from the reader. Questions about Douglas, the narrator, and the authorship of the manuscript all remain maddeningly unresolved. It is also futile to attempt to resolve the question of whether the ghosts in the story are real.
The tale is simple enough in outline. The nameless governess has been hired by her similarly nameless employer to look after his orphaned nephew and niece, Miles and Flora. Sent down to Bly, the employer’s country house, for this purpose, the governess encounters two ghosts: that of Peter Quint, her employer’s dead former valet, and Miss Jessel, her predecessor as the children’s governess. From the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, the governess learns that Quint and Miss Jessel were intimate and that they may have corrupted the children.
In a series of bizarre incidents, the governess becomes convinced that the ghosts have indeed possessed the children, and she resolves to protect her charges from further harm by keeping them there at Bly, under her watchful eye. (Miles was to have returned...
(The entire section is 411 words.)
A Terrible Tale
The Turn of the Screw begins on Christmas Eve during the 1890s, in an old house, where a group of men and women friends are gathered around a fireside telling ghost stories. When the book starts, somebody has just finished telling a particularly gruesome tale involving a ghost and a child. Later in the evening, a man named Douglas comments on this tale, saying that he agrees that since the tale involves a child, it magnifies the horrific effect, which he refers to as "another turn of the screw." He proposes to top this tale with a ghost story involving two children, but when pressed to do so, he says that he must read the tale from the account of the person who has experienced it and that the account is in a book in his home in the city.
Over the next couple of days, while the group is waiting for the book to arrive, Douglas gives a short prologue to the tale. In this preview, he reveals that the story involves a young governess in the mid-1800s, who has been hired by a young man to take care of his niece and nephew. The one condition that the governess must adhere to is that she can never trouble the man about anything involving the children. Some of the other major characters are introduced, including Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper who is currently watching over the house and children; Miles, the ten-year-old nephew, who was sent away to school after the death of the previous governess; and Flora, the...
(The entire section is 1372 words.)
Summary and Analysis
Chapters 1 and 2 Summary and Analysis
A group of people, gathered at a country house in England, sit around the fire telling ghost stories. One gentleman suggests that the visitation by a ghost to a child is especially thrilling. Another gentleman called Douglas relates that spectral haunting to two children is even more so. He says he knows just such a story, given him by a lady of his past acquaintance, the governess of his sister when he was in his youth. Being infatuated with her, Douglas becomes privy to a story from her own past. She later gives him the manuscript of the story. Douglas sends to London for it so that he can read it to the other guests.
As the party is waiting for the manuscript to arrive, Douglas fills in the background of the governess of the story. As a young woman of twenty, she answered and advertisement posted by a gentleman who was saddled with his orphaned niece and nephew. The previous governess had died, so he was needing a replacement, on the condition that she never contact him about the children. The governess accepts the post and travels to the country house of Bly. She is greeted by the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, and the young girl called Flora. She is immediately taken with Flora, who seems a perfect angel. She also develops and easy relationship with Mrs. Grose, sharing the same opinions especially about the child. The boy, Miles is away at school, but is expected within a couple of days.
The day after her arrival, a letter arrives from her new employer, in which is enclosed a letter from the headmaster at Miles’ school. Miles has been dismissed from his school because, as the headmaster states, he might be an “injury” to the other boys. The governess asks Mrs. Grose about the boy, who is horrified that Miles should be thought such a threat. She states that he is by no means perfect, but that is fine with her, as she likes to see some spirit in a boy.
The governess asks about her predecessor, whom she learned went off and died. Mrs. Grose is very vague about her, and accidentally slips and says that “he” was very taken with young and pretty women. Thinking that she is speaking of her employer (whom she had found herself attracted to on their first meeting), the governess then gets the idea that Mrs. Grose is not telling all she knows.
The novel begins with a frame story, a style hearkening back to the early part of the nineteenth...
(The entire section is 915 words.)
Chapters 3 and 4 Summary and Analysis
Mrs. Grose’s vagueness to the governess’s inquiries does not change the closeness of their relationship. The governess is overwhelmed by how beautiful Miles (like Flora) is, and cannot understand how such a marvelous child could be expelled from school. She refuses to acknowledge the letter from the headmaster, nor does she inform her employer, according to his wishes.
The governess becomes more and more infatuated with her charges. She does not grow tired of her duties, as many governesses do. Yet she enjoys her time alone in the evenings, after the children have gone to bed. One such evening finds her outside talking a walk around the grounds, thinking of her employer, whom she has still yet to see any more at the house. She wishes again that she could get to know him better, though he has ordered her not to contact him, at least about the children. While strolling near the house, she observes up on the battlements of one of the towers attached to the house a figure of a man. As she had been thinking and fantasizing of her employer, she at first thought it was he. But on closer inspection she finds that it is someone whom she has never seen. He is looking straight at her, without acknowledgement. He goes from one end of the tower to the other, never breaking his gaze on her. At last he is gone.
The governess at first thinks that it is some mysterious figure, a ghost or a family member locked up out of sight. Then she decides he was merely a passing stranger, having invaded the home, perhaps merely to look around. One Sunday, however, as she returns to the house to retrieve her gloves before going to the late service at church, she finds the same man looking through the window into the house. She realizes somehow that he is not looking at her. He is searching for someone else. She leaves the house in a rush in order to catch the man outside the window, but he is gone. She looks through the same window that the man had. Just then Mrs. Grose comes into the room, stopping short and turning white until she recognized who it was. The governess wonders exactly why Mrs. Grose had looked so frightened, as frightened as she had at seeing the man at the window.
James provides the characterization of the governess that gives insight into her that has led to multiple interpretations of this novel. She is a young, unmarried, but passionate woman, frustrated in...
(The entire section is 903 words.)
Chapters 5 and 6 Summary and Analysis
Mrs. Grose comes outside and observes the governess looking white as a sheet. The governess explains that she saw a man looking in the window. In answer to Mrs. Grose’s questioning, she explains that he is evidently no gentleman, was not wearing a hat, and that he always seemed to be outside the house, but never in. He had very red, curly hair and whiskers. His eyes are small, very fixed, and strange. He is wearing nice clothes that she knows are not his. She thought he looked like an actor, though she says she has never actually seen one in person. She decides she cannot go to church because she must stay at home to watch over the children. Mrs. Grose can identify the man as Peter Quint, who used to be valet of the master of the house. The clothes he was wearing belonged to the master, who had been missing some vests the year before. Mrs. Grose also announces that Peter Quint was dead. He had been found beside the road with the mark of a head wound.
The governess is convinced that he is looking for Miles. Mrs. Grose tells her that, when he was alive and in charge of the house, he had been “too free” with Miles, as he was indeed with everyone. The governess is disgusted at the implications of this. The governess wonders that, for being so close to Quint, Miles has never mentioned him at all.
The master of the house was unaware of what was going on in his country house. Mrs. Grose knew that he did not want to be told any tales about Quint, or anyone else for that matter. She now feels guilty, thinking about what might possibly have been going on.
The governess is convinced that she has been brought to Bly as a guardian of the children. She is the only thing standing between them and the horror personified by the ghost of Peter Quint.
One afternoon, Flora and the governess were out walking by the lake, while Miles was inside finishing the book he was reading. While Flora played, the governess sits on a bench doing handwork. Suddenly she senses the presence of a third person, standing across the lake. She is afraid to look to see who it is, because she somehow knows it is the ghost of yet another “visitor.”
The identification of the ghost as Peter Quint gives validation to the interpretation that the governess is truly experience the supernatural, rather than psychological illusions brought about by repression. While it...
(The entire section is 979 words.)
Chapters 7 and 8 Summary and Analysis
The governess searches for Mrs. Grose and in horror tells her that the children are aware of the ghosts. Mrs. Grose asks if Flora actually looked at the ghost, but she did not, according to the governess, who simply “knows” that they have been aware of the spirits for some time. The ghost at the lake was not that of Quint but of Miss Jessel, the previous governess. She is described as very beautiful, a lady, and “infamous.”
Mrs. Grose is unwilling to believe that the children know about the ghosts and seem to be comfortable with their presence. The governess insists that, if she were making this all up, she would not know all the details of their physical appearance, which Mrs. Grose confirms that she does.
The governess relates that the ghost of Miss Jessel looked at Flora with a kind of “fury of intention,” a look that bespoke evil. Mrs. Grose tells that Peter Quint and Miss Jessel had been having an affair, despite their difference in rank. According to Mrs. Grose, Quint did whatever he wished with anyone, including the children. She insinuates that the affair was the reason that Miss Jessel left Bly, perhaps being pregnant, in which condition she obviously could not remain as a governess. The governess despairs, feeling that she has failed in her task of protecting the children. Not only has she been unable to shield them, but that they are truly “lost.” But she is amazed at how completely perfect in behavior and beautiful in appearance the brother and sister are, despite all that has been implied about their past.
The governess continues to question Mrs. Grose about Quint and Miss Jessel, but the housekeeper is seemingly reluctant to give out all the details that she obviously knows. She asks her pointblank what she had meant previously when she said that she did not pretend that Miles had never been “bad.” She wants to know in what occasions the boy had been “bad.” Mrs. Grose relates that Miles would go off alone for hours with Peter Quint, then lie about it later. While Flora remained with Miss Jessel, the boy and the valet would disappear for long stretches of time. Miles never mentioned it, nor did he ever say that Quint spoke of Miss Jessel to him.
The governess now understands the strange look that Mrs. Grose had on her face when the letter from Miles’ school arrived. They both wonder how exactly Miles had been a “fiend” at...
(The entire section is 980 words.)
Chapters 9 and 10 Summary and Analysis
The governess gives herself in to the role of protector of Miles and Flora. She irresistibly holds them, lavishing her affections on them in a most ostentatious way, wondering what they might think of her actions. Yet they return her affection in kind. They find many ways in which to please her, entertaining her, concentrating even harder on their lessons, telling her stories, etc. In complete innocence and perfection they show themselves to be the opposite of what she has begun to think they are. She has not yet thought about Miles’ school situation, and Miles does not seem to be too concerned about it either. She can get no hint from him about what had happened at his old school that had caused him to be excelled as a “corrupting influence” on the other boys. She marvels at the seeming goodness of the children. She can find no flaw in them, despite her conviction that they are keeping the presence of the ghosts a secret from her.
One evening, sitting up late and reading in Flora’s room, the governess senses that there is something on the other side of the door. She takes a candle and stealthily goes down the hall to the staircase. The candle is blown out, but the coming light of dawn gives a dim light in the hall. Below, she sees the ghost of Peter Quint looking up at her. She feels no horror and believes that if she will wait him out he will go away; he does. She returns to Flora’s room to find Flora out of the bed and looking out the window. When she confronts the child with her being out of bed, Flora states that she was simply waiting for her return. The governess senses that she is lying.
Days pass, and the governess stays every night in Flora’s room. One night she fell asleep, and when she awoke, she saw that Flora was looking out the window once again. She creeps out of the room, going down the hall and contemplates going into Miles’ room. She listens, but hears nothing from his bed, so she goes to a lower room where she can see outside to where Flora is looking. She sees a figure on the lawn, looking up above her at the tower battlement. But it is not the ghost of Miss Jessel that she sees, nor is it Peter Quint. It is Miles.
James has set up a series of dichotomous events, each one revealing the paradox that encounters with either the supernatural or the psyche can inhabit. Between the dichotomies the tension builds, between...
(The entire section is 937 words.)
Chapters 11 and 12 Summary and Analysis
The governess finds time eventually to talk to Mrs. Grose about what had happened the night before, when she found Miles out on the lawn after midnight. Mrs. Grose gives the governess the sense that she believes her, but she is unwilling to fully believe the culpability of the children in what the governess sees as an atmosphere of evil.
On reaching Miles out on the lawn, the governess asks him what he is doing outside in the middle of the night. Miles mischievously replies that he did so in order that she would think him “bad.” He seems delighted at the prospect of being considered “naughty,” which is the exact opposite of what she, Mrs. Grose, and the entire household believe. He says that he was in collaboration with Flora, who was supposed to get out of bed and look out the window in order to disturb the governess from her sleep, look out the window to see what Flora was looking at, and then come to get Miles, which is exactly what happened. The governess is horrified that Miles would risk getting sick in the night air, which Miles believes simply added to the joy of the escapade.
In all this, Miles does not mention Peter Quint or Miss Jessel at all. Yet the governess believes that both children have continued contact with the ghosts of the former servants. She states that in reality, the children have not been good, they have been “absent,” leading a life of their own with the ghosts. Mrs. Grose cannot understand why the children would do such a thing, to which the governess replies that they do so because of all the evil that Quint and Miss Jessel put into the children while they were alive. Mrs. Grose admits that the children were “rascals” when it came to the servants when they were alive, but wonders why they continue to meet with them. The governess is convinced that the ghosts are determined to lead the children to “the other side.” Each contact is in order to shorten the gap between this world and the next.
Mrs. Grose decides that the children’s uncle must be informed of what is going on, despite his orders not to do so. The governess is reluctant because she does not want her employer, towards whom she is still harboring romantic feelings and hopes, to become irritated with her. She threatens Mrs. Grose that, if the latter inform the children’s uncle, she will leave the house on the spot.
(The entire section is 931 words.)
Chapters 13 and 14 Summary and Analysis
The governess continues to spend her time absorbed in Miles and Flora, proceeding with lessons and activities. At no time, however, does either child mention the former servants, Peter Quint or Miss Jessel, nor does the governess herself. She seems to get the sense that the children are trying to get her to admit that she is trying to get information out of them. In their lessons, the children refuse to make any reference to their former governess, nor to what they have learned before under her tutelage. They enjoy her stories of her former life, of her family and past pets, but they make no mention whatsoever of any aspect of their lives before her arrival.
A month passes, and the governess has not seen any sign of the ghosts, though she has a feeling that the children see them regularly, but do not give any sign of doing so to her. She continues to make her life center around the children, and they seem to expect it. At times the children ask when their uncle might arrive, to which the governess of course has no answer.
Summer passes into autumn, and on one Sunday morning, on the walk to church, Miles walks beside his governess, while Flora walks on ahead with the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. The governess wonders why they never seem to resent her constant presence, as she sticks as closely to them as possible in her assumed role as protector.
Miles suddenly asks his governess when he is going to go back to school. She is caught off guard but manages to keep from showing it. Miles continues, saying that he cannot always be with the same lady (meaning the governess). The governess carefully chooses her phrases and replies, “And always with the same lady?” thinking that he might allude to the ghost of Miss Jessel. Miles simply replies that he is “getting on,” but remarks that he has been “awfully good” while at Bly. He is quick to admit that there was the one time when she caught him outside of the house at midnight. She asks him again why he did so, and he says that it was just because “he could.” He gives no indication that he is going to do anything of the sort again.
The governess then asks if he had been happy at school. His vague reply is that he can be happy anywhere. When the governess asks him why he then cannot be happy remaining at Bly, he states that he wants to see more of life, to be with his own “sort.” He then asks her if his uncle...
(The entire section is 920 words.)
Chapters 15 and 16 Summary and Analysis
When Miles announces that he will get his uncle to come down to Bly, the governess stops outside the church and cannot go in. She concludes that Miles knows that his uncle has forbidden her to contact him about the children and that she is honoring that request, despite the troubling incidents at the house, in order to gain a better standing in his eyes. She is shaken at this revelation of the depths of manipulation to which Miles will sink. Her opinion that he is doing this in order to force her to send him back to a school for the purpose of his gaining more freedom from the company of women (despite his professed adoration of her). She is most of all concerned that a boy so young has developed a plan.
The governess, sitting on a tomb in the church graveyard, contemplates her next move. She decides that she will leave Bly immediately. She is not sure how she can get away without transportation, but she walks back to the house to pack. She enters her room and finds Miss Jessel sitting at the table, with her head in her hands. The governess confronts her “vile predecessor,” crying out “You terrible miserable woman!” The ghost looks at her and then disappears.
The children and Mrs. Grose return from church and pointedly do not discuss her sudden disappearance from church. Later, the governess asks Mrs. Grose about it, who admits that the children had asked her to say nothing, that they should do whatever the governess wants. The governess informs the housekeeper that she and Miles are now “all out,” meaning that they have become enemies. She changes the topic and tells Mrs. Grose that she came back and found Miss Jessel in her room. She says that her appearance reveals that she is suffering the torments of the damned. It is her speculation that she has come to take Flora with her, to share in the sufferings in hell.
The two women decide that, after all, they must write to their uncle and inform him of what is going on. The governess justifies her previous reluctance because of the letter from Miles’ former school. She does not know how to inform his uncle of the situation. Mrs. Grose offers to tell him, but when the governess hints that the housekeeper does not know how to write, she says that she usually gets the bailiff to write letters for her. The governess asks her is she really wants outsiders to know of their story, so the housekeeper agrees that the governess...
(The entire section is 916 words.)
Chapters 17 and 18 Summary and Analysis
The governess returns to her room and, with Flora beside her, is intent of finishing the letter she is writing to her employer, informing him about the events going on at Bly, including the few facts she knows about Miles’ ambiguous dismissal from school. She hears Miles call her from his room. She leaves Flora and goes to see what the boy wants. He is in a good mood and simply wants her company. He says he has not slept because he is thinking so hard. When the governess asks of what he is thinking that is keeping him awake, he states that it is she. She appreciates that, she says, but would prefer that he go to sleep. He then states that he is thinking about this “queer business of theirs.” When she asks him to elaborate, he simply says, “Oh you know, you know!”
The governess says nothing at first, but then promises Miles that he will indeed go back to school, not to the same one but to a better. She then chides him stating that of course she had no idea that he was thinking about returning to school because he has never mentioned anything about school, especially what happened at his old one. She says she thought that he simply wanted to go on as he was, at home in Bly with Flora and his governess. Miles replies that he wants to get away. He is not tired of Bly, he says, but he wants to go somewhere else. The governess asks if would like to go to his uncle. Miles tells her slyly that she cannot “get off” with that. His uncle must come down and she must completely settle things. The governess tells the boy that if they do, it will be to make sure that he is sent away. She warns Miles that he will have to tell his uncle about what happened at his old school and that he cannot send him back. Miles says he does not want to go back, that he wants “a new field.” The governess begs him again to tell her something. Miles replies that he simply wants her to let him alone. She tells him that she just wants him to help her save him. She realizes she has gone too far with the remark. Suddenly the room shakes and the candle is blown own. When the shaking stops, Miles declares that it was he who snuffed the flame.
The governess finishes the letter and is waiting for the messenger to take it to the village to post. Miles offers to play for her. They go into the schoolroom and Miles begins to play. All of a sudden the governess realizes that she has left Flora alone. On hurrying back she...
(The entire section is 916 words.)
Chapters 19 and 20 Summary and Analysis
The governess, accompanied by Mrs. Grose, goes down to the lake in search of Flora, who has disappeared from the house as the governess was talking to Miles. As the pair go down to the lake, Mrs. Grose asks if the governess thinks that Flora has gone into the lake. Her companion states that, if she has, the water is not that deep. She thinks instead that the girl has gone to the spot where the ghost of Miss Jessel had appeared on their last visit to the lake. Mrs. Grose asks if she thinks that the children actually talk to the ghosts. The governess replies that they say things that would appall the grown-ups if they heard them.
Mrs. Grose is grateful for a chance to at last see what the governess has witnessed. As they reach the lake, they see nothing, but the governess notices that the boat is gone, and there is not sign of it on the lake. The two women walk around the lake to where they spot the boat. They see Flora near a copse, as if she had just come out of the woods. When they reach the girl, each waits for someone to speak, not willing to be the one to ask the question. At last Flora asks why they are outside without their things. When the governess asks her where hers are, Flora asks where Miles is. The governess responds by saying that she will tell her if Flora will tell her where Miss Jessel is. All of a sudden, Mrs. Grose cries out, as does the governess, who spots Miss Jessel on the spot where she had previously appeared. The governess is glad that at last the ghost appears so that Mrs. Grose can see her, and that Flora can be confronted with her acknowledgement of the visits of Miss Jessel. Mrs. Grose, however, exclaims that the governess gave her quite a turn with her cry. The governess asks her if she does not see the ghost of the former governess, but Mrs. Grose sees nothing. Flora herself gives not sign of seeing anything either.
At this realization, the governess declares that she gives in; Miss Jessel can have the girl. She tells the housekeeper and the girl to go back to the house and leave her. After a period of time, she finds herself on the damp ground, where she has evidently thrown herself in her grief and despair. She goes back to the house, but does not see Mrs. Grose or Flora. She goes to her room, puts out the candle, and sits beside the fire. Miles comes in quietly, and sits beside her, saying nothing.
At this new appearance...
(The entire section is 926 words.)
Chapters 21 and 22 Summary and Analysis
The next morning the governess awakens to find Mrs. Grose at her bedside with the news that Flora is ill and feverish. She is afraid, not of the presence of Miss Jessel, but of the governess herself. She persists in denying that she saw anything, as the governess charges, who believes that Flora and Miles have devised this plan in order to make her look bad in the eyes of their uncle. She says that Flora means to get rid of her, with which Mrs. Grose agrees.
The governess states that Mrs. Grose must take Flora and leave Bly and let her deal with Miles. She believes that the boy might yet come to her side and tell her all. She makes sure that Flora has not been alone in order to communicate with Miss Jessel. Mrs. Grose assures her as much as she can that, if the housekeeper could not be with her, that one of the maids stayed with her. She asks the governess if she is sure of Miles, to which the governess replies that she is no longer sure of anything but Mrs. Grose. She thought the night before, when Miles came to sit with her by the fireside, that he might be going to tell her something, but he did not. She wants to give him more time, if Mrs. Grose will take Flora and leave. Mrs. Grose agrees that it is best that Flora leave the house. She says that she has heard the girl make the most ghastly accusations. When the governess asks if the accusations were about Miss Jessel, the housekeeper replies that, no, they were about the governess herself. She says that she cannot think where the girl had picked up such language. The governess is, in a way, glad that Flora has said such things, feeling that it justifies her own fears somewhat. Mrs. Grose says that, though she is horrified by what Flora says, she agrees that the governess is right about the ghost, though she herself saw nothing. She is going to take the girl to her uncle. When the governess mentions that her letter has most likely reached him by now, the housekeeper tells her that it was never sent, that Miles stole it before it could be taken to the village. She is convinced that this was the awful thing that Miles did at school that caused him to be expelled, though the governess thinks this is not nearly wicked enough. She vows to get the truth out of Miles because, if she does, then not only is the boy saved, but she is as well.
Miles asks if Flora...
(The entire section is 896 words.)
Chapters 23 and 24 Summary and Analysis
Finding themselves alone, Miles and the governess are at a face-off. In response to Miles’ remark that the two of them are alone, she says that they are not absolutely alone, to which he agrees. She says that they have “the others.” Miles states that, though they have “them,” they do not much count. The governess picks up her knitting to occupy herself. She sees that Miles is looking out the window, and she feels that he is struggling to break free to tell her everything. He merely states that Bly “agrees” with him. She mentions that he has seen a lot of it, since he has been free from her to roam around the grounds. She asks if he likes it, to which he replies, “Do you?” He then says that, if they are alone there now, it is she that is alone the most. He asks her if she minds; she does not, since it allows her to enjoy his company, and that is why she has stayed. He questions her if this is the real reason. She reminds him that she told him before, when she sat by his side during the thunderstorm, that she would do anything to save him. He says he thought she meant that this was only to get him to do something for her. The governess replies that, yes, she wanted him to do something (tell her about school and the ghosts) but he did not do it. He then pointedly asks if that is the real reason she stayed, to get information out of him. She admits that it was, and that she still is waiting. She asks if he wants to tell her everything now. She then asks if he wants to go outside again, and he says that he does. He promises that he will tell her everything, but “not now.” He says he has to go see Luke (one of the servants at Bly). Before he walks away from the window, she asks him if he took her letter. As soon as she asks the question, Peter Quint appears at the window. Miles admits he took it to see what she said about him. The governess gently confronts him with the fact that he found nothing. She asks what he did with it, and he says that he burnt it.
The governess then asks him outright if this is what he did at school to be expelled. He is surprised that she knows about his expulsion, but she says that she knows everything. He says that he did not steal, but he said “things” to other boys he liked. They in turn repeated these “things” to boys that they themselves liked, and eventually it got back to the masters. Peter Quint once more appears at the window and the governess cries...
(The entire section is 937 words.)