The Realities of Miss Giddens’ Discovery

         In the movie The Innocents, directed in 1961 by Jack Clayton and based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, the actress Deborah Kerr truly transforms herself into Miss Giddens instead of just playing the character. Miss Giddens, the main character, is the motherly figure of the film; she becomes the governess and full guardian of Miles and Flora, the children. Miss Giddens seems overwhelmed with fear when she starts witnessing strange occurrences throughout the mansion. When she begins to hear strange things, she becomes wary of her new job.

         Miss Giddens believes that her mind is playing tricks on itself when she hears Flora humming a song. While Flora is singing this song, Miss Giddens sees a woman dressed in black sitting on the other side of the pond. Miss Giddens believes Flora also sees her; however, Flora denies that she sees the woman, and the woman disappears. While discussing the woman with Mrs. Grose, Miss Giddens says, “They are both playing or being made to play some monstrous game. I can’t pretend to understand what its purpose is, I just know it’s happening, something secretive and whispery and indecent…” Miss Giddens believes ghosts are haunting the children and that the ghosts have physical power over them. When Miss Giddens finds out that Miss Jessel and Quint, the children’s former caretakers, are the two ghosts who are haunting the children, she wants to seek help for the children.

         Contrary to what Mrs. Grose suggests, Miss Giddens does not believe that Quint is innocent, and she finds out that Miles had, in the past, considered Quint to be a role model. This makes her believe even more strongly that Quint is responsible for making little Miles behave in the way that he has been behaving. Miss Giddens believes that the ghosts are riotously causing little Flora and Miles to become wicked children and that the ghosts are taking revenge for their previous lives. Miss Giddens hopes that once she makes the children accept that Quint and Miss Jessel have passed away, they will become normal children again. Conversely, once Miles admits to who had been haunting him, he abruptly dies.

         One would suppose that Miss Giddens had been correct the whole time about Quint and Miss Jessel haunting the children and the children merely could not accept that they were being haunted or possessed by their previous caretakers. However, in the end when Miles dies, Miss Giddens undoubtedly learns that she is the haunted one and not the children.

Michelle Crockwell

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