Love Will Make You Crazy

        Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, filmed as The Innocents in 1961 by Jack Clayton, is about the main character, the governess, (played by Deborah Kerr as Miss Giddens), searching for love. She feels so lonely that she is desperate for anything to fill the lonesomeness. In result, she begins to manifest her unrequited feelings in the shape of ghostly apparitions. The governess plays an unreliable narrator, seeing phantoms who play out an captivating relationship, which allows her to feel as though she herself was a part of it. When the governess becomes tired with the ghosts, she turns to other characters to complete her objective, to find love.

        The governess sees ghosts in order to satisfy her desire to be in love, which is triggered by the instant attraction to the handsome bachelor uncle (Michael Redgrave) of the orphaned children, Miles and Flora (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin) whom she is looking after. Notice she only clearly sees the ghost of Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) after she has seen his face. Also, she sees such aspirations only after she dreams of meeting someone for her own. Her aspiration to be in love comes with the stage she her life is in. She does not really know what she wants, but hearing of the uncle's "charming ways with women" gives her an idea of what she wants out of life.

        The governess's arrival to Bly, the setting, is a rational place for her feelings of love to surface. It brings her away from civilization, so her imagination is free to run wild. Seeing the first ghost, Peter Quint, represents what she wants, someone to love her, but knows is unreal and unattainable which is why her mind portrays Quint as a ghost. The second ghost, Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop), represents a woman in love with someone, like Quint, to love her mutually. The governess's process of seeing the ghosts is to see them in her mind then let her imagination transfer the image to a visual, a ghost.

        In the end, her mind drives the governess in a crazy search for love, first with the attraction toward the uncle, then the fictitious Peter Quint, and in the end, even in Miles, a young boy. In search for a reciprocated feeling of love, the governess actually smothers Miles to death. In this story, perhaps the old saying is true. Love can make one do some crazy things, quite literally.

Jessica Riddle

Table of Contents