Intentional Danger


In Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw,” the reason for Miles’ calculated mischief lies in his determination for his uncle to realize his situation. Miles planned for his sister to look out the window in order for the governess to notice his absence and told the governess that he wanted her to think of him as bad (76). If the governess believes him to be bad and is unable to control him, she may summon the uncle. “’But who’ll get him to come down?’ ‘I will!’ the boy said with extraordinary brightness and emphasis” (92). The boy’s response comes after the governess’ claim that he, referring to the uncle, does not care about the boy’s situation. Miles’ response shows his determination. The italicized I indicated that this word’s tone is emphasized. The exclamation point makes it seem as if the phrase was spoken confidently, which shows that Miles is not messing around. He wants the uncle to come down and he will do what he must in order to make that happen. He says the statement with “extraordinary brightness and emphasis,” which again indicates the confident and positive manner in which he speaks. It seems that he is trying to show the governess that he can and will do as he wishes and will not be completely under her control. My claim and evidence can show that encounters between the ghost and Miles may not be accidental on Miles’ part, since Miles is purposely trying to cause trouble.

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One comment

  1. While Miles may have calculated his mischief in order to bring his uncle back to Bly, Miles behavior in order to obtain his uncles attention is a gross oversimplification. For example, although he was outside at night in order for the governess to notice his absence (76), he did not purposely get in trouble to press for his uncle’s return. Even though his mischief rises as he realizes that he was expelled from school due to his interactions with other boys that he liked, Miles most likely did not intentionally act poorly on purpose. Instead of intentionally acting poorly on purpose, Miles calculated every move, which he and Flora would take. After all, Miles was a clever and charming child. As Miles not only convinced Flora to stand at the window, but it is arguable that he also convinced her to row across the lake. In turn, this action prompted the governess to send Flora to her uncle. Miles planned this action, as he knew a letter was a vulnerable message, subject to misinterpretation and interception. At the end of the text, Miles was granted his wish for the return of his uncle due to his scheming because there is no doubt that his uncle would return for his nephew’s body or funeral. Unfortunately, the question remains whether the governess herself was responsible for this action through her negligence for the care of Miles. However, in the end, Miles, through his manipulation of Flora, may have driven her to this step.

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