Real Ghosts?

         Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, and Jack Clayton's 1961 film, The Innocents, were excellent choices for our class. It was an excellent way to open up students of the modern day to films other than modern ones. Throughout both versions, there are details that leave students to question the existence of the ghosts.

          However, I have decided that there is solid evidence that the ghosts probably existed.  The information that most strongly supports the idea that the ghosts were real was that the governess, who had never met these people and knew nothing about them, could describe them so accurately. She had not seen pictures of them until after the ghosts had already appeared to her. Most of the incidences in which the governess, named Miss Giddens and played by Deborah Kerr in the film, would see the ghosts the children were near by, for example when the governess so a man on the roof. When she reached the top of the tower, Miles was up there alone playing with the birds. A reason for the children's inability to see the ghosts could have been that they were being manipulated by the ghosts to play dumb in an attempt to drive the governess away, or they sincerely could not have been able to see them, which I doubt.

         Could the children see the "ghosts?" There were instances in the book and film when the children, Miles and Flora (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin), would seem to be under some sort of supernatural control, especially Miles. Miles was too mature and intelligent, in a wicked way, for a child of his age in either the book or the film. He displayed rather violent and scary tendencies, such as his choke hold on the governess in the attic.

         The last fact is what makes me certain that the ghosts were real. I believe that the purpose of the ghosts were to drive the governess away. They had had a close bond with the children and felt threatened by the new governess and her growing relationship with the children. Thus, it seemed as though the ghosts were jealous of the governess' relationship with the children. Proof of the jealousy is also shown through Miles' death. I got the idea that, when Miles died, Mr. Quint thought that the boy had become more loyal to the governess than to him. He must have felt that, if he could not have Miles, then no one could. So therefore he took Miles' soul.

          I have come to the conclusion from both versions of the book and film that the ghosts were real. They were trying to manipulate the governess and the children. The closeness of the children between them and the governess was threatening to them, and he retaliated by making the governess think she was crazy.

Brittany Fentress

Table of Contents