Seekers of the Truth

        On the surface, Henry James's 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw, filmed in 1961 by Jack Clayton as The Innocents, and the 90ís television show The X-Files do not have a lot in common, other than they both deal with supernatural elements. Their connection does run a bit deeper than that. In fact, the two stories have several similarities.

         The Turn of the Screw, along with its movie counterpart, can be seen as a quest to save the lives of innocents at all costs. The governess, played as Miss Giddens by Deborah Kerr on the screen, does not care about how she sounds when she says she sees ghosts. She only cares about protecting her young charges, Miles and Flora (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin). She wants to discover the truth about what is happening so she can protect the children. The whole basic premise of The X-Files is one manís quest to find out the truth about what really had happened to his sister, who mysteriously disappeared several years ago, and to protect the lives of innocent civilians from supernatural and unrelenting forces. Both characters accomplish this feat at a great personal cost. The governess has to eventually give in and call upon her employer, who has left strict instructions to not be bothered; in essence she is admitting that she could not do the job he has asked her to do. She does this reluctantly since she has fallen in love with her employer and does not want to disappoint him. She also was unsuccessful in protecting Miles. Mulderís personal sacrifices are too great to list, but suffice it to say that he has gone to hell and back a thousand times over to prove that he is right and to protect those that he loves.

        As I pointed out before, the governess never cares if she sounds crazy by saying she sees ghosts; she only wishes to learn their motives. Mulder was never worried about sounding like an idiot. He is infamous for making outlandish theories. Each of these brave characters will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. The consequences of their actions mean nothing to these two characters so long as the action furthers their agendas.

        In the end, the governess is only successful in protecting Flora from the horrors she faces, but at a great cost to both the little girl and the governess herself. The governess is too late to save Miles. Mulderís story has yet to be resolved. He did eventually find out what happened to his sister, but whether that version of events was true or not will probably never be revealed. He still does everything in his power to save the lives of innocents. He is still reckless and spontaneous. One hopes that his story can end on a happier note than that of the governess.

        The characters of the governess in The Turn of the Screw, as well as in The Innocents, and Fox Mulder in The X-Files are very similar even though they come from very different stories. They each personify what it means to be truly dedicated to a cause. The characters suffer for their dedication, but that just makes them more dynamic.

Ashley Williams

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