Evidently, the one being told appears to have exceptional impact, since ‘held us’ implies the Story has captivated those who are listening to it. The curiosity as to what it exactly is that intrigues the characters, is also synonymously what intrigues the reader – creating tension as an outcome. Then, the contain caution of the setting being described as “on Christmas Eve in an old house” further extends the atmosphere of tension, due to ‘Christmas Eve’ being a day of significance and ‘old house’ having connotations to an establishment as such is typically found to be undaunted or cursed in Gothic works.
As a result, it meets the primary purpose and aim of the prologue, as James intended it to: to set the foundations for tension, unease and fear to be established upon. Further evidence that the prologue does this includes descriptions of the sighted ghost as: “of a dreadful kind”, and: “waking her up in the terror of it”; these quotations particularly evoke a sense of fear in the narrators monologue and to the reader, who attempts to decipher the true monstrous image of such a nastily- described being.
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This quite sudden and swiftly-advanced transition towards an atmosphere of fear, before the story even begins to switch to the governess’ perspective, is done so by James with the intention of catching the reader off-guard and causing them to garner exceptional concern for the sheer sinisterly of the circumstances in which Douglas’ story entails. As Douglas is prompted to recite the ghost story for the others – who are held in remarkable awe and await his narration eagerly with extraordinary anticipation – he informs them that he “shall have to send to town” since “The Tory’s written.
It’s in a locked drawer -? it has not been out for years”. Whilst this primarily inflicts discontent among them, James deliberately adds the detail of ‘it has not been out for years’ to yet again form a link with Gothic genre, since ‘old’ and ‘aged’ both depict some hidden secrecy or plot-holes within the anticipated narrative. In addition, the fact is has been placed into a ‘locked drawer further builds upon the notion of secrecy; why might the story need to be hidden? Who and what from? What is it even about?
These questions all place the reader at unease; henceforth the prologue establishes the tone of the novel from the very start… At least, that is what the reader In chapter 1 , the switch of perspective and the stark contrast of presumes. Setting juxtapose that of the imagery portrayed during the prologue. For instance: “a lovely day, through a country to which the summer sweetness seemed to offer me a friendly welcome” features a variety of positive adjectives and abstract nouns, i. E. ‘sweetness’ and friendly.
Albeit the heartening description of the scenery, any reader which had begun reading he novel with a mind-set of slight skepticism, would have attempted to read between the lines – and would perhaps discover the awfully cliche nature of the vast and abrupt mood shift to be unsettling. James, as we know, wrote The Turn of The Screw’ with challenging the typical Gothic literature stance in mind; since he has chosen to implement this aspect of the narrative beginning as pleasant and harmonious despite his clearly apparent goals, this in turn imposes unease upon the reader as they begin to second-guess the legitimacy of the governess’ recount.
Unease is continuously maintained – more so than tension or fear as of yet – throughout the rest of chapters 1 and 2. Most notably, the level of unease the reader feels is heightened when the governess meets Flora; “spot a creature so charming’, and: “She was the most beautiful child I had ever seen” both strike the reader as very peculiar and extravagant remarks to make about a young child. This might be regarded as some as the first sign of the governess’ perception skewed and/or delusional to some degree.
How she will treat and look after Flora becomes a pressing Hough that the reader possesses, since there is uncertainty as to whether her inexperience will lead to a lack of rational approach when nurturing a chi lid whom she finds so exquisite. Unease again is heightened further on at the beginning of chapter 2, when the news is heard of Miles’ expulsion from school, within days of her enrolling as her position.
The governess uptakes a gallant uptake of duty and deems herself responsible for this having happened. Tension is simultaneously resumed when the governess claims that the school’s reasoning for having done so is because Miles was an “injury to there”. This quotation insinuates that Miles – a 10 year old and seemingly innocent boy -? had the capacity to cause harm to his classmates (and teachers).