The Turn of the Screw

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Genres: Best books ever listing
Language: English
Type: Digital

The Turn of the Screw, a novella by American-British author Henry James, was first published in 1898. It is a suspenseful ghost story that remains one of James's most popular and well-regarded works.

Plot Summary

The novella tells the story of a young governess who is hired to care for two orphaned children, Miles and Flora, at a secluded country estate called Bly. The governess arrives at Bly and soon begins to suspect that the house is haunted by the ghosts of two former employees, Quint and Miss Jessel.

The governess's suspicions are confirmed when she sees the ghosts on several occasions. She becomes convinced that the ghosts are trying to corrupt the children and that she must do everything in her power to protect them.

The governess's attempts to protect the children lead to a climax in which she tries to force them to confront the ghosts. The children deny that the ghosts exist, and the governess eventually breaks down.

The novella ends with the governess being fired and the children returning to the care of their uncle. It is left up to the reader to decide whether the ghosts were real or whether they were simply a product of the governess's imagination.


The Turn of the Screw explores a wide range of themes, including:

  • The nature of good and evil
  • The role of innocence
  • The power of suggestion
  • The ambiguity of perception


The novella features a cast of memorable characters, including:

  • The governess: The narrator of the story, the governess is a young woman who is hired to care for the children at Bly. She is a complex and unreliable narrator, and her perceptions of the events at Bly are often called into question.
  • Miles and Flora: The orphaned children who are cared for by the governess. They are innocent and seemingly untouched by the evil that haunts Bly.
  • Quint and Miss Jessel: The ghosts of two former employees at Bly. They are evil and corrupting, and they try to influence the children.


The Turn of the Screw is considered one of the greatest ghost stories ever written. It has been praised for its suspense, its ambiguity, and its exploration of psychological themes. The novella has been adapted into many different forms, including films, television series, and operas.

Some of the novella's most famous quotes include:

  • "They are a company of honest men—for pirates!"
  • "I'm an American—I was born here."
  • "It's hard to believe that something so small could be so cruel."
  • "I'm not afraid of the dark—I'm afraid of what's in it."
  • "The only way to escape fear is to face it."


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