Morbid Satisfaction

Even in her first glimpse of Miles, the governess in Henry James\'s Turn of the Screw feels instant adoration and affection for the boy who she describes as innocent, at least by outward appearance. As she grows to know Miles, she develops not only an attachment towards him, but an obsession as well. The governess longs to protect Miles from "evil," to protect him from Peter Quint - a man whom she has not only never met, but who is also dead. The closing chapter of Turn of the Screw demonstrates clearly the governess\' unordinary obsession to rescue Miles from what she has determined as evil. But, while the governess\' supposed objective is protection, the novel ends with Miles dead in her hands. Furthermore, as she holds the child\'s lifeless body in her arms, the governess feels no signs of sadness or mourning but instead, mysterious content and satisfaction.
The final episode of Turn of the Screw reveals that the governess\' exterior and persistent desires to protect Miles conceals a more unspeakable sensual longing for the boy. Prior to her move to Bly, sexual exploration for the governess, "the youngest of seven daughters of a poor country parson," is nonexistent (295). Upon taking the new job, however, the governess - an unmarried and "anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicarage who, except in her fantasies, has never experienced intimate relationships with men - is free to immerse herself in all the opportunities for sexual experimentation available to her at Bly. The governess\' desire to explore the masculine race is seen in the beginning of the novella in her eager decision to accept a job from the wealthy master, a man whose figure she becomes infatuated with and who "impressed her as vast and imposing - this prospective patron proved a gentlemen, a bachelor in the prime of life, such a figure as had never risen, save in a dream or an old novel, before a fluttered, anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicarage" (295). The development of her fixation to experience and engage in relationships with men is seen furthermore in the closing paragraphs of Chapter III when she daydreams of meeting a man while she takes a stroll, fantasizing that "it would be charming as a charming story suddenly to meet someone. I only asked that he should know; and the only way to be sure he knew would be to see it, and the kind light of it, in his handsome face" (310). The governess\' departure from the "Hampshire vicarage" brings her vast opportunities for sexual exploration. She experiences a sexual awakening, overwhelmed by opportunities for relations with member of the opposite sex.
Miles becomes the governess\' choice as her outlet for sexual experimentation. Since her move to Bly, she has encountered at least three potential men - the master, Quint and Miles. But, because Quint, who is dead, and the master, who resides in town, are both intangible, Miles, provides for her the best means to satisfy her sexual cravings. Since the beginning of the novella, visions of Quint have consistently emerged during times when the governess worries about her relationship with Miles. Quint appears initially in Chapter III just after the governess meets Miles for the first time, as she is contemplating the potential ramifications his dismissal from boarding school could have on their relationship. Later, in Chapter IV, the governess becomes troubled again while pondering Miles\' alleged wrongs and sees Quint a second time. Quint\'s appearance serves as an instrument to measure the governess\' confidence in her relationship with Miles. Visions of Quint emerge during times when the governess feels distant from Miles, at times when she fears she could be losing Miles in some way. Quint\'s appearance gives the governess a false sense of comfort that Miles\' unwillingness to open up in their relationship is simply a result of the threat that Quint poses on it, not any fault of her own. Conversely, Quint\'s appearance is not evident during times when the governess is satisfied with her relationship with Miles.
In the final episode of the novella, the governess, who is preoccupied by the anticipation of Miles\' possible reaction to her abrupt and blunt questioning, sees Quint\'s