The Not-So Innocent

     Within the 1950 play The Innocents by William Archibald, and the 1961 movie, filmed by Jack Clayton based on the book The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, there is one question one is left asking oneself; are there really any ghosts? One is never really told whether there are ghosts or not, but is left to infer the existence of the ghosts by the actions of the characters, namely those of the children. Miles and Flora are far from normal functioning children if one judges them by their actions. Even if the governess, named Miss Giddens in the play, had not thought she had seen the ghosts, one can tell that the children are not normal. What are these actions, and how do they imply that there were really ghosts?

     Let us begin with Flora's actions. First Flora stops in the middle of her nightly prayers and begins to ask questions about the turtle she owns. She then asks what happens to people if they are bad and afterwards answers her own question by saying that some are left to wander the earth. Then she states that Miles will be returning, even before the governess knows. The next day when the letter arrives and the governess states that Miles will be returning, Flora gives her an innocent childish grin. How did she know Miles was returning? When she gave the smile to Miss Giddens it had an almost evil connotation to it. This is another indicator that Flora is not a normal child. One of the more explicit examples of Flora's oddness happens in the courtyard. She traps a butterfly and watches with glee on her face when a spider begins to eat it. Does this sound like the behavior of a healthy little girl? These actions show that something is wrong with Flora. Without ever hearing Miss Giddens speak of the ghosts one could tell that something was wrong with Flora.

     Miles also has many behaviors that seem very untypical for a boy of the age of twelve. To begin with, when Miles arrives, he has flowers for Miss Giddens and says that she is much too pretty to be a governess. How did he know that a new governess was there. Miss Giddens had only been there a short while. What twelve year old tells a woman of twenty how pretty she is. Miles also seemed very articulate for such a young lad. He always called Miss Giddens "My dear." That is far from normal for a young child. When Miss Giddens comes up to the tower and asks Miles who the man up there with him was, he begins to patronize her and tells her that maybe she had imagined the idea and needs to get some sleep. What kind of child can make that kind of assumption? Miles keeps the dead bird. That should be a warning sign of instability. Miles also kisses Miss Giddens on the lips. Just by his actions, one can tell that Miles is not a normal child and that and that something is wrong with him.

     As you can see Miles and Flora are not your typical children. They engage in behaviors that are far from normal. Discounting the visions that Miss Giddens sees, one should believe that there are ghosts by the actions of the children.

Shawn Rainey

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