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Critical ChildrenThe Use of Childhood in Ten Great Novels$
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Richard Locke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157834

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157834.001.0001

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Henry James’s Demonic Lambs

Henry James’s Demonic Lambs

Miles and Flora in The Turn of the Screw

(p.87) 3 Henry James’s Demonic Lambs
Critical Children

Richard Locke

Columbia University Press

This chapter analyzes the depiction of children in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw (1898). The novel follows two orphaned children, Miles and Flora, who were born in India and taken under the care of their grandparents. When their grandparents died, the children were then brought to England by their uncle, and were cared for by an inexperienced governess who was given “supreme authority” over them. The novel dramatizes the abuse of adult authority in the name of “forming” children's souls and social and intellectual behavior, thereby confirming the adult's construction of reality—even sanity—and justifying the adult's power and moral virtue. Throughout the narrative, the children attempt to achieve conventional childhoods.

Keywords:   Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, Miles, Flora, adult authority, reality, sanity

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