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Ironically, Brontë’s feminine fantasy given as a man’s piece of work (Currer Bell’s) would echo inversely in Henry James’s story, given as a woman’s narrative.This paradoxical inversion implies that James intentionally framed this of his in the terms of a belated pseudo-feminine fiction—tapping into the popular fantasies of the governess to be married off as reward, and of the latent psychic disorders inherent in ’woman as writer’—a tale of possession/dispossession, as if the writer was labouring under a duty of exorcism, of interrogating the past as both familiar and alien.The social and theological tradition of Puritan conduct books, which was vital for Richardson to create a passion of tragic dimension, was thus imported as an undercurrent of the modern story, echoing the old appeal to divine power or Providence in order to foreground the repeated ”analysis of mortally intricate and perplexing situations” (Brissenden 119).
The governess as both Inquisitor and Saviour of the lost follows the path of her forerunners: Emily St.
Aubert overwhelmed by the reenactment of the restless life of Signora Laurentini/ Sister Agnes; Jane facing Bertha, the mad woman, as in a distorting mirror; the conformist versus the carnivalesque.
which will be considered here not as a model ‘Freudian reading’, but as the illustration of a prevalent tendency as well as an inherent temptation of psychoanalytical interpretation as it undertakes to provide an ‘explanation’, or an ‘explication’ of a literary text.
Considering hypothetical sources for ’The Turn of the Screw’ in terms of generic intertext might show James apparently toying with the great tradition of the English novel and with its undercurrents of society and sex, as exemplified in fantasy (the gothic) or in manners (the realistic novel).
Destiny is writ in hieroglyphic terms in century novels, Quint parading as a spurious master or whispered mysteries of hauntings, or implicit phrases and a pseudo-maternal legacy (Mrs.
Grose), as pitted against the maleoriented letter writing from which the governess is excluded.Edel’s contention is that James’s attempt was to enshrine that tradition in his story: ”The Brontë’s rather than the modern psychological movement nascent in Vienna” (Edel 433, quoted by Perry 62).James would then rank among the practitioners of the tropes familiar among his forerunners in the novel of sentiment and its stereotypes: ”the perceiving female subject, the Gothic structures […] and the explained supernatural” (Milbank 159).Disguise and horse play occupy the episode of the ball room in displaying the lesson of the charades: marriage as ’pantomime,’ with Rochester as a gypsy and a woman to boot. Innuendoes of libidinal pursuits bring the memory of Eyre—of disappeared parents or uncles, re-emerge in the status of the nephews and the parental servants as commanding figures.The governess wonders at the children’s capacity for ”telling her stories, acting her charades, pouncing out at her, in disguises […]” ( 167)., insofar as the text of the novella relates to the ”governess novel” and to the question of a ”mystery” at Bly and its imprisoned inmate.A systematic study (by Alice Hall Petry) has gone a long way in demonstrating the overlap of the two texts, highlighting the concept of the role-playing governess: she would act out the character of Jane, ’The Turn of the Screw’ becoming a parody of Charlotte’s romantic novel.Writing here harks back to the epistolary mode of Richardson’s novel of sentiment and beyond that to the predicaments of the gothic heroine probing the ’secret’ of patriarchy.The first-person woman narrator stages her self-interrogation as a desiring subject negotiating the move from ”a symbolics of blood to an analysis of sexuality,” to take up Hoeveler’s words in her study of feminine Gothicism; and she does that notably ”through the power of language to dissemble” (James indeed kept in mind the old sentimental theme of ”virtue in distress.” Robert Brissenden, a specialist of the genre, asserts that ”if Richardson can be called a sentimental novelist so can Henry James” (Brissenden 117).From the start the mysticism of a Romantic past is being hollowed out for a modern subject to assert itself within a mysterious halo. was itself a story told retrospectively, given as autobiography: a romantic story already displacing gothic tropes and deflating them.then can be a signpost—not only in the heroine pitted against a background of a corrupt society of deceit, but in the parodic reenactment of older materials—possibly feminine romance revamped in the guise of a near psychic case. James makes his novella an alleged manuscript, lost and retrieved—according to the romantic archetype.