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APS TOGETHER

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James Day 6

July 14, 2020 | Chapters 10–11

The governess obsessively observes the children, trying to gather evidence. But what evidence would suffice? A boy sneaking out of his room? She wants to see a reality beneath appearances, “the back of the tapestry.” —Garth

“…she conscientiously turned to take from me a view of the back of the tapestry.”


I find this exchange heartbreaking. As the governess’s watchfulness—her surveillance—becomes more & more tyrannical, being bad is the only means at Miles’s disposal to assert his freedom. —Garth

“‘Well,’ he said at last, ‘just exactly in order that you should do this.’
‘Do what?’
‘Think me—for a change--*bad*!’”


Britten sets up Miles’s fascination w/ “badness” in a scene that has no equivalent in James. During a Latin lesson, Miles sings a haunting song on the word “malo” (which can mean “I prefer,” “apple tree,” & “bad”). —Garth


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