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 The Turn of the Screw Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

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The Turn of the Screw: Novel Summary: Chapter 17- 18

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Chapter 17
 
The governess starts to write her letter, but cannot make much progress. She gets up and makes yet another nocturnal visit to Miles's room. She assures him he will be sent to school, saying that she was unaware that he wanted to go, since he had never said a word to her about it and she had assumed he was happy with his life at Bly. She pressures him to tell her whatever he might need to. He declines to tell her anything, simply saying that he will write to his uncle and get him to come. He wants the governess to leave him alone. Again she asks him to tell her why he was expelled from school. She says she just wants him to help her save him. Just then a gust of wind comes in the room and the candle goes out. But the window is closed. Miles says that he blew out the candle.
 
Chapter 18
 
The next day, the governess has written her letter but she has not yet mailed it. Miles plays the piano delightfully for her and distracts her while Flora sneaks off. The governess goes looking for her, finding Mrs. Grose. For some minutes the two of them look for Flora, without success. When Mrs. Grose asks where Miles is, she replies "Oh he's with Quint. They'll be in the schoolroom" (86). She contends that she no longer worries about Miles talking to Quint and they need to go save Flora.
 
Chapters 17 and 18, Analysis
 
During her nighttime visit to Miles, it is hard to tell whether the governess is trying to get Miles to tell her about Quint or about why he was kicked out of school. The two in her mind are the same and show his evil. At first, she seemed continually agitated about the fact that the children were socializing with ghosts and not telling her, which would be a breech of her total power. Now, it seems she is looking for all evidence of evil in Miles and wants him to admit some unnamed evil.
 
If this is the case, her contention that she no longer cares if he talks to Quint makes sense. She no longer wants to protect Miles from evil. He has rebelled against her, so she has decided he is evil, which his getting kicked out of school confirms. She is determined to confront him and get the upper hand. However, with Flora, she still has a chance to "save" one child and show she is powerful in that way.




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