The Governess in Nineteenth-Century Literature

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Last Updated on February 4, 2016, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 523

Allen, John J. “The Governess and the Ghosts in The Turn of the Screw.Henry James Review 1, No. 1 (November 1979): 73-80.

Discusses the reliability of the governess-narrator in James' novella.

Boren, Lynda S. “The Performing Self: Psychodrama in Austen, James and Woolf.” Centennial Review 30, No. 1...

(The entire section contains 523 words.)

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Allen, John J. “The Governess and the Ghosts in The Turn of the Screw.Henry James Review 1, No. 1 (November 1979): 73-80.

Discusses the reliability of the governess-narrator in James' novella.

Boren, Lynda S. “The Performing Self: Psychodrama in Austen, James and Woolf.” Centennial Review 30, No. 1 (Winter 1986): 1-24.

Portion of the essay discusses The Turn of the Screw in terms of its dramatic form, focusing on how James employed this framework to explore the nature of self.

Broughton, Trev and Ruth Symes, eds. The Governess: An Anthology. Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Limited, 1997, 214 p.

Reprints contemporary accounts regarding a variety of issues related to governesses, including the process of obtaining a position, working conditions, and the “plight” of the governess. Each chapter includes a brief introduction written by the editors.

Brown, Susan. “Alternatives to the Missionary Position: Anna Leonowens as Victorian Travel Writer.” Feminist Studies 21, No. 3 (Fall 1995): 587-614.

Examines both The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870) and The Romance of the Harem (1873), two works by Anna Harriette Leonowens, an Indian-born woman who was employed as a governess to the many children and wives of King Mongkut, Rama IV of Siam during the 1860s.

Chase, Dennis. “The Ambiguity of Innocence: The Turn of the Screw.Extrapolation 27, No. 3 (Fall 1986): 197-202.

Explores the innocence of both Miles and the governess.

Kepner, Susan. “Anna (and Margaret) and the King of Siam.” Crossroads 10, No. 2 (1996): 1-32.

Offers background information about Leonowens, author of The English Governess at the Court of Siam (1870), including details about her childhood and about her life after her employment in Siam.

Krook, Dorothea. “Prefigurings in Two Early Stories of Henry James.” Modern Language Studies 13, No. 4 (Fall 1983): 5-21.

A portion of the essay compares the governess-child relationships in both “Master Eustace” (1871), an early story by James, and his Turn of the Screw.

Matheson, Terence J. “Did the Governess Smother Miles?: A Note on James's The Turn of the Screw.Studies in Short Fiction 19, No. 2 (Spring 1982): 172-75.

Brief essay providing evidence that Miles died of asphyxiation after having been repeatedly and violently held and squeezed by the governess.

Poovey, Mary. “Jane Eyre and the Governess in Nineteenth-Century Britain.” In Approaches to Teaching Brontë's Jane Eyre, edited by Diane Long Hoeveler and Beth Lau, pp. 43-48. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1993.

Argues that Brontë intended for Jane Eyre to be viewed as a symbol of the middle-class British woman during the socially tumultuous 1840s.

Scott, James B. “How the Screw Is Turned: James's Amusette.University of Mississippi Studies in English 4 (1983): 112-31.

Argues that The Turn of the Screw, rather than being a horrific ghost story, is simply a “plaything,” written by James to hoodwink the unsuspecting reader.

Siegel, Paul N. “‘Miss Jessel’: Mirror Image of the Governess.” Literature and Psychology 18, No. 1 (1968): 30-38.

Claims that the ghost of Miss Jessel serves as a mirror image of the governess, representing her dark, almost ugly, side.

West, Katharine. “Mid-Victorian.” In Chapter of Governesses: A Study of the Governess in English Fiction, 1800–1949, pp. 87-147. London: Cohen & West Ltd., 1949.

Provides an overview of several mid-nineteenth-century works featuring governesses, including novels by William Thackeray, Wilkie Collins, Sheridan Le Fanu, and Elizabeth Gaskell.

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Criticism: Fictional Governesses