Abstract on Priscilla L. Walton

Walton, Priscilla L et al. “A Gender Studies Perspective .” The Turn of the Screw, 3rd ed., Bedford , Boston, MA, 2010, pp. 348–359.

Walton discusses how The Turn of the Screw reflects the cultural anxieties of women/ gender roles and sexuality in 1880′s.  Delving into the history of governesses, Walton looks at how women became governesses and were unreliable due to their hindered sexuality.  She also highlights how the beginning narrator appears too close with Douglas, connecting them with homosexuality.  Sexuality is a common theme throughout as the governess and Quint struggle with dominating the children and showing the strength of their sexuality.  The governess means to take the male authority and use it while the figure of Mrs. Grose holds her back with women’s ideals.  Walton believes that the governess attempts reject her femininity and take on more masculine authority which leads to her downfall.  Flora represents the mediator between Mrs. Grose’s proper, maternal depiction of women and the governess’s fluid sexuality.  When Flora turns violent to the governess, she then depicts the common reaction to lesbianism and rejects the governess for a whorish figure.  Once Flora is removed, the governess is left to struggle for control over Miles who perishes because he cannot choose between the sexualities of Quint and the governess.  From this, Walton believes Henry James demonstrated the worries of men about women who refuse their patriarchal roles.

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