The (5-12 years of age): the development of

The novel, The Turn of the Screw in relation to the
ideas of the beliefs of the early psychologist, Sigmund Freud, is significant
in comparison to the main character the governess. Freud’s beliefs are based
off of the idea that everything is derived from sexual desires, which the main
character in the novel, the Governess, has similar desires for a significantly
younger child she is responsible for. In
The Turn of the Screw, the governess
is characterized as an embattled and confused woman, whose tendencies towards
the young children fits the psychological mold of Sigmund Freud, and his
beliefs on sexual desires.

            The ideas that
Sigmund Freud based his practice off of are quite different than one would
expect. Freud believed that people’s dreams and personality were based off of
sexual desires that constantly flourished and changed as one aged. According to
Journal Psyche, Freud had different
stages of the psychosexual development and the stages are, “Oral (0-1.5 years
of age): Fixation on all things oral. If not satisfactorily met there is the
likelihood of developing negative oral habits or behaviors. Anal (1.5-3 years
of age): As indicated this stage is primarily related to developing healthy
toilet training habits. Phallic (3-5 years of age): The development of healthy
substitutes for the sexual attraction boys and girls have toward a parent of
the opposite gender. Latency (5-12 years of age): the development of healthy
dormant sexual feelings for the opposite sex. Genital (12-adulthood): All tasks
from the previous four stages are integrated into the mind allowing for the
onset of healthy sexual feelings and behaviors” (“The Freudian Theory of
Personality). Stated in Myers’ Psychology
for AP, if at any time in the stages of oral, anal, or phallic stages,
these ideas could stick and would not grow or change as time goes on (Myers
2014).

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            Additionally, the governess in the novel also represents
Freud’s other theory revolving around the unconscious mind with the “three
interacting systems: the id, ego, and
superego,” which is also known as the
“iceberg” (Myers’s Psychology for AP). According to Myers’ Psychology for AP, the id
is “a reservoir of unconscious psychic energy that, according to Freud,
strives to satisfy basic sexual and aggressive drive. It also operates on the
principal of pleasure principle, demanding
immediate gratification” (Myers G-7). The second system is the ego, which is “the largely conscious,
“executive” part of the personality that, according to Freud, mediates among
the demands of the id, superego, and reality. The ego operates on the reality principle, satisfying the id’s
desires in ways that will realistically bring pleasure rather than pain” (Myers
G-4). The final system is the superego, which
is defined as “the part of the personality that, according to Freud, represents
internalized ideals and provides standards for judgment (the conscious) and for
future aspirations” (Myers G-14).

            With the ideas stated in the previous paragraph, the main
character it is evident that, the governess, is a clear representative of the
psychosexual stages and the stages of the id,
ego, and superego all developed
by Sigmund Freud. The governess’ strong affection for the children she is in
charge of grows continuously and ends up getting out of control. The readers are let into the mind of
the governess and are given strange information about how she feels about the
children as she says, “…I thought strange things about them” (James 330);
hinting that she could be having sexual fantasies about the children. This
directly relates to the unconscious mind of the id and the realist mind of the ego.
With these two ideas on personality taking place in the mind of the
governess, she is directly showing that she is trying to repress her feelings
for the children, especially Miles. The unconscious mind, of the id, and her conscious mind, of the ego, is trying to rationalize it in
perception and judgment making.

            With the governess being so deeply disturbed, both
mentally and sexually, the relationship that she has with the children can
simply becoming threatening. In the governess’ mind she is protecting the
children and is nothing but good to them, but in reality she could quite
possibly be hurting the children. Being so sleep deprived she is constantly in
the thinking of the unconscious state of mind. “Incidents of sexual abuse
against the children appear frequently. With Flora, her advances are subtle…Between
Miles and the governess, the sexual undertones are more overt” (Therapy for the
Governess; A Psychoanalytic View of her Sickness and Crime). The governess
loses almost all control of herself when she is alone with the children, having
the constant need to touch the children or even think or make sexual innuendos.

            Although these advances made by the governess are not
happening in the state of dreaming, she is still representing the unconscious
mind although she is awake. These three overlapping systems and the stages of
psychosexual development coined by Freud define who the governess is and where
her mental state stands. “In his novel The
Turn of the Screw, Henry James plays with this notion that the unconscious
mind greatly affects and controls the conscious mind of men and women” (Psychoanalytical
Essay–The Unconscious Mind, in Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw”).  This statement shows that the governess,
although her desires and needs are kept unraveled in the beginning of the
novel, her actions and statements greatly show how her unconscious mind affects
her conscious mind and thinking.

            The governess’ behavior is a constant buildup and
storyline to keep the readers interested and questioning. Her development as a
character changes from the very beginning. With her suppressed sexual feelings
for lack of a significant other, her mind becomes controlling of her and her
desires, leaving her mind to unwanted sexual attraction to children and a man
she has never met. Her unconscious mind and thoughts gain control over her
conscious mind leaving her with these desires. Although these desires are not
specifically mentioned, readers are able to come to a conclusion that her
conscious mind is no longer in control because of her believing she can see
apparitions, and thus, creating confusing desires about both Miles and Flora.

            The governess’ so called “iceberg” continually becomes
imbalanced throughout the novel as she is unable to regain her mental
stability. As she spends more time stuck in her thoughts and constantly being
with the children her desires are constantly getting stronger. The governess
expresses her strong desire for Miles when this particular event took place, “…he
bent forward and kissed me. It was practically the end of everything. I met his
kiss and I had to make, while I folded him for a minute in my arms, the most
stupendous effort not to cry” (James 342). This was the first time Miles had
made a romantic movement towards the governess, and it shows how the kiss made
her feel because she was so happy she had to refrain from crying. The governess
is not only making advances towards Miles, but she is also making them towards
Flora as well. This is exemplified when she has a realization upon returning to
her bedroom, “…then I had returned to my room. The foremost thing I saw there
by the light of the candle I had left burning was that Flora’s little bed was
empty;” (James 335). At the mention of Flora’s bed being empty when the
governess returns to her room, the reader can conclude that the governess had
wanted to protect Flora from the apparitions, but instead might have used it to
get closer to Flora and possibly take advantage of her.

            These advances the governess is making towards the two
children can be described as unhealthy and obsessive. The way she acts towards
both Miles and Flora, shows how unstable her mental state is, even though the
governess believes she is being protective. These beliefs come from the sleep
deprivation she is facing, which is causing her unconscious mindset to take
control over her conscious mind.

 Her tip of the iceberg, as one could say, is
the death of her so called beloved Miles. “Another emergence of the governess’s
neurotic behavior-conceivably the ultimate emergence of her neurotic behavior-
demonstrating how her repressed thoughts lead to the deterioration of her mind,
materialize in Miles’ death” (Psychoanalytical Essay–The Unconscious Mind, in
Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw”). At the end of the novel, the scene
displays the final conversation between the governess and Miles. Here, readers
can still be left to come up with their own thoughts based of off, “Well-I said
things…No-only a few. Those I liked…they must have repeated them. To those they liked” (James 392-393). Readers,
along with the governess are not completely sure of what Miles is trying to say
here, because it is left unknown to what he is saying and to whom he said it
to. All of this leads to the improbable death of Miles.  

            After losing Flora, because of how the governess was
acting, she could not bear having Miles leave her as well when she believed she
saw the apparition appearing in the room with her and Miles. These happenings give
more clarity to the idea that her id now
has taken full control over her superego,
which used to control her id. “With
the stroke of the loss I was so proud of he uttered the cry of a creature
hurdled over an abyss, and the grasp with which I recovered him might have been
that of catching him in his fall. I caught him, yes, I held him-it may be
imagined with passion; but at the end of a minute I began to feel what it truly
was that I held. We were alone with the quiet of day, and his little heart,
dispossessed, had stopped” (James 395). With her belief of the apparitions and
her sexual desires towards the children, the death of Miles can be shown as all
her fault. With her struggle to maintain Freud’s idea of the iceberg balance,
everything in her life soon becomes unavoidable, such as Miles’ death.

            In conclusion the main character, the governess, in The Turn of the Screw is an excellent
example of how the theories and ideas that Freud proposed. These ideas coined
by Sigmund Freud-the psychosexual development theory and the ideas of the id, ego, and superego-all take shape in the governess, through confusion and her
tendencies towards the children, Miles and Flora, in the novel The Turn of the Screw.

           

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