(Thanks to Maryanne Lewell for the title inspiration.)
Hey, all! I recently finished
slogging through Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, so you know what that means – another tweet masterpost!
I’m going to be honest… this book was a struggle to get through, in large part because I found the prose almost incomprehensible on many an occasion. “Empty with a great emptiness” – I mean, really? But anyway, here are all my (increasingly sardonic) tweets about this little
piece of crap story.
Prologue summed up: unnecessary context galore
- Hey all – apparently Turn of the Screw, the next book on my capstone syllabus, is short, so I’m just going to try to knock it out now. [edit after the fact: L O L]
- Ah yes, nothing like starting out with creepy ghost stories and a campfire. Awesome.
- “The case, I may mention, was that of an apparition” – oh please, don’t give away the whole story now
- Looks like our first-person narrator won’t be telling us the actual story – rather, some dude named Douglas.
- Douglas: “If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw” – aaahhhh he did the title thing
- Come ON, Douglas, just tell us the dang story. Quit playing coy.
- (also, what do you want to bet Douglas is one of the kids in the story, all grown up)
- Now this is quite a tone shift from some of the other pieces- the audience members here are actively taking delight in these horror stories.
- Huh – I just realized our first-person narrator is, at this point, genderless. Now that is fascinating.
- Douglas insists he didn’t actually experience this particular story. I’m still wondering, though.
- The woman who wrote the story out was “my sister’s governess,” I mean, so yeah.
- Awk. Douglas totally has/had the hots for this governess lady.
- “[Douglas] continued to fix me. ‘You’ll easily judge,’ he repeated: ‘/you/ will.'” – I get such a self-insert vibe from this line
- as if Henry James is inviting the reader to adopt the role of the “I” here
- if he really *is* doing that, then that makes the whole genderless-narrator thing super clever
- “I fixed him too. ‘I see. She was in love.'” – um. Not sure what that has to do with anything, but okay.
- “‘Isn’t anybody going?’ It was almost the tone of hope.” so awk
- One Mrs. Griffin can’t help but wonder: “Who was it [the governess] was in love with?” …oh god.
- if the governess was in love with the ghost… oh GOD
- Douglas totally just burned a hole in the carpet with how fast he disappeared.
- “BYE GOTTA GO TO BED” – Douglas, basically
- I totally thought this was going to be a framed story a la Heart of Darkness, but I guess not – the genderless narrator is going to tell it.
- Well, sort of. This story is super filtered- from the governess through Douglas through the narrator’s transcription.
- Ugh, huge background paragraph- tl;dr, Governess started working for a rich guy whose niece and nephew were his wards.
- These two kids had another governess before this, “a most respectable person- till her death, the great awkwardness of which-” whoa back UP
- that seriously does not bode well
- and also, describing her death as a “great awkwardness” is just. what.
- Aaahhhhhh. So the governess (who I hope gets a name soon) was in love with her employer. Hey, at least I was wrong about it being the ghost.
- Um… so apparently if she’s to take this job, Governess has to basically take care of the kids and everything without any help from Dude.
- His “main condition” was that “she should never trouble him,” “neither appeal nor complain nor write about anything.” ALARM BELLS
- that just sounds so suspicious
- me right now:
Chapter 1 summed up: L is basically the adoptive mother of two far-too-adorable-to-be-real kids, and she’s alone with them in a huge house.
- Okay, now we’re on to the governess’s actual narration, and she still doesn’t have a name. Wonderful.
- Governess is going on and on about how cute little Flora is. Which, of course, means Flora’s going to be evil.
- Seriously, if Flora doesn’t turn out to be a devil child, I’ll be so disappointed.
- I’m so weirded out that the governess doesn’t have a name. I feel like I have to give her a name.
- I’ll just call her L, how about that?
Chapter 2 summed up: Miles may actually be the devil child here, and L asks quite bluntly what happened to the last governess.
- Holy crap, Miles got kicked out of his school.
- At first Mrs. Grose the housekeeper was like “Miles is literally the nicest little kid” and now she’s like “lol about that”
- L is asking Grose about the last governess now. That’s my girl.
- The last governess was a hot young thing too, because “‘it was the way [the master] liked every one!'” OH MY GOD, L, IT’S SUCH A TRAP
- “‘Did she die here?'” – L is being so frank and it’s refreshing
Chapter 3 summed up: Miles is super adorable, L and Grose are total bros, and a creepy dude appears on the top of a tower.
- L’s first impression of Miles is that he’s just as cherubic as his sister. Come on, L, he’s plainly evil.
- or I don’t know, that may just be wishful thinking on my part
- pretty sure Dorian Gray has made me distrust pretty people in literature
- L and Grose are, in Carmilla parlance, “girling the hell up,” and for some reason I can’t help but be alarmed
- I also don’t trust Grose for whatever reason. Actually, I don’t think I trust anybody in this book. Maybe L, but that’s it.
- Now that she’s telling the story, L is amazed at how willing she was to accept such a difficult situation. As am I, honey.
- “Oh it was a trap” – L actually just said that, y’all. REALLY.
- A wild random-person-at-the-top-of-a-tower appears!
- So this is creepy- L was fantasizing about meeting someone while on her afternoon stroll, and this guy who just appeared (1/2)
- (2/2) looks exactly like the dude she’d been imagining. Okay, then.
Chapter 4 summed up: creep creep creepin
- Henry James totally just made a Udolpho reference and a Jane Eyre reference in the same sentence. So meta.
- L isn’t so sure she wants to tell Grose about what happened. Sighhhhhhhh
- No, L’s just chewing over the incident during her alone time.
- L’s still completely obsessed with Miles and Flora. Cool.
- Oh, and they still don’t know why Miles got dismissed from his school. Also cool.
- Oh my god, L, you’re literally saying Miles is too adorable to be evil. Do you realize how ridiculous you sound?
- “He was only too fine and fair for the little horrid unclean school-world” – seriously, L?
- “Both the children had a gentleness – it was their only fault” – L, are you *trying* to make me hate these kids? Because it’s working.
- “Of course I was under the spell” – whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I think Future L just admitted the kids are evil.
- I TOTALLY CALLED IT
- Anyway, moving on.
- Wouldja look at that, the creepy dude just appeared outside the window of the dining room.
- Oh man – L literally just bolted from the house and ran TOWARDS the spot where she saw the creeper.
- I don’t know whether to shake my head or shake her hand.
- Now this is weird – L keeps going on random tangents about time and how long things lasted.
- The tl;dr version of every single one of these is “I don’t know how long it lasted.”
- I feel like HJ is using the lack of time to create the proper atmosphere
- it sort of creates the sense that what’s past isn’t really past, that this or something like it could still happen in the future or the now
- “The terrace and the whole place… were empty with a great emptiness.”
- L is playing detective, apparently. She goes to where Creeper was standing – and accidentally scares Grose in the process.
- “I wondered why /she/ should be scared.” That, my dear L, is an excellent question.
Chapter 5 summed up: it’s a bird! It’s a plane! No… it’s actually a ghost.
- What’s weirding me out about Turn of the Screw is that I’m just not finding it as compelling as I have the other books thus far.
- I think part of it has to do with the writing style- I’ve definitely read the same sentence multiple times before giving up on it.
- like I seriously cannot make any grammatical sense out of some of these sentences, and it’s throwing me off
- Alright, after a little daylong break or so, I’m back to livetweeting Turn of the Screw! Here’s hoping I like it better than I did yesterday
- When we last left our heroine L, she’d seen that creepy guy’s face at the window of the dining room and gone out to investigate.
- “I must have made a wonderful face.” – L, your snark is precious. Keep it up.
- “I put out my hand to [Mrs. Grose] and she took it; I held her hard a little, liking to feel her close to me.” -um. L, that sounds kinda gay
- That’s not to say I’m arguing, because I’m totally not.
- Update: L just asked Mrs. Grose, “‘Did I look very queer?'” Pardon me while I succumb to a fit of juvenile snickers
- Grose: “What was it?” L: “An extraordinary man.” I have to say, “extraordinary” isn’t the word I’d use.
- L: “What *is* he? He’s a horror.” Grose: “A horror?” I’m just going to go ahead and interpret that as a Heart of Darkness joke
- “He has no hat.” omg so terrifying
- so this creeper, in a nutshell:
-little scruffy beard
-super judgmental eyebrows
- …okay, we’ve got something else to add to that list:
- Yes, ladies and germs, it appears that this creeper L’s been seeing looks exactly like her employer’s dead ex-valet.
- (His name, funnily enough, is Peter Quint. I’ll just be over here making Guardians of the Galaxy jokes.)
- actual photo evidence of Peter Quint’s ghost
- filed under: reasons why I should probably never have downloaded GIMP
Chapter 6 summed up: who you gonna call?
- L and Grose are tag-teaming this whole playing-detective thing now.
- (Side note: female friendship in literature is my fave thing ever)
- Okay but what’s more, L either has some sort of psychic connection to the ghost or HJ is just getting super lazy about plot.
- “‘He was looking for little Miles.’ A portentous clearness now possessed me.” – like seriously, L, how on earth could you know that?
- “But how do you know?” – Grose, asking the real questions
- And L has the fantastically reasoned reply of “I know, I know, I know!” Astounding, L. I’m so impressed at your reasoning.
- L is puzzled that neither Flora nor Miles ever mentioned Peter Quint. At least she’s not a totally awful detective…
- “‘Ah, don’t try [Miles]!’ broke from Mrs. Grose.” – okay, I’m starting to get a weird vibe here
- “‘It was Quint’s own fancy. To play with him, I mean – to spoil him. … Quint was much too free.'” – Grose. Um. UM.
- brb looking up what “free” meant in that time period
- results: the meaning I suspected in this case, “unrestricted,” was still a thing back then
- Grose: “…I was afraid.”
L: “Afraid of what?”
Grose: “Of things that man could do.”
- Peter Quint COULD have died from falling and hitting his head. (Of course, L suspects otherwise.)
- L’s getting a bit of an ego trip from this whole situation- “literally able to find a joy in the extraordinary flight of heroism,” she says.
- me right now:
- Oh man, ish is about to get SO REAL, y’all.
- We had left Miles indoors” – OH, BAD IDEA
- …so let me get this straight, L – your idea of “ish getting real” is seeing another apparition on the other side of the lake.
- Good heavens, HJ, do you think you could move things along just a little faster?
- So… Flora knows what’s up but she appears unconcerned? I think?
Chapter 7 summed up: it’s a ghost party all up in here
- “Mr. Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty” – my bro Oscar Wilde. I knew I liked him for a reason.
- L ran to Grose after this incident and “fairly threw myself into her arms.” Uuuummmmmmm.
- oH WHAT THE WHAT. We’ve got another ghost on our hands, folks, to whom L ominously refers as “a woman in black.”
- Aaaaaand like our dear fellow Peter Quint, all she did is stand there.
- Grose: “Was she someone you’ve never seen?” L: “Never. But someone the child has. Someone *you* have.” …I applaud your logic, L. Really.
- Oh and would you look at that, the woman in black is the erstwhile (dead) governess.
- She gets a name now (Miss Jessel), but L still doesn’t.
- (I haven’t actually read Rebecca, but I know the same thing happens in there. Was Rebecca published before or after this?…)
- (to Google with me)
- (Rebecca was published 40 years after this, as it turns out. Anyhoodle, back to the book.)
- Okay, L, now I really don’t know what you’re saying. I’m just going to go ahead and blame HJ for not writing clearly.
- So Jessel wasn’t staring at L, not like Peter Quint was, but at Flora. Which somehow seems creepier to L.
- How L describes Jessel:
-“handsome – very, very”
I’m just gonna leave these here
- Grose: “Miss Jessel – *was* infamous.” I get the feeling Peter Quint’s involved in her infamy somehow.
- Grose: “They were both infamous.” CALLED IT
- Grose: “*She* was a lady.”
oh god, I had JUST gotten Sk8er Boi out of my head
- So we have some torrid affair btwn the governess & the valet. The way this pushes class boundaries sorta reminds me of Lady Audley’s Secret
- Now L is freaking out because she thinks the kids are doomed once and for all. And on that optimistic note, the chapter ends.
Chapter 8 summed up: people talk a lot but say very little
- Somehow L has a perfect knowledge of the appearance of each of these ghosts, despite only having seen them from a distance.
- Either L’s telepathic or HJ is just lazy as heck-all
- I’m inclined to think the former precedes from the latter, actually
- Blah blah blah, more of Flora being unbearably cute
- Blah blah blah, HJ writes another sentence I absolutely cannot understand
- If anyone can make head or tail of the sentence that begins “It was a pity to be obliged” and ends “a matter of habit,” please enlighten me.
- “a small shifty spot on the wrong side of it all still sometimes brushed my brow like the wing of a bat” – okay that’s a nice turn of phrase
- Apparently Grose thought highborn Miles was spending too much time with lower-class Peter, back in the day…
- Aaaaand Miles responded by lying about spending time with Peter… I can’t be the only one getting weird vibes from this, seriously
Chapter 9 summed up: L is creepily obsessed with childhood and has yet another stare-off with the ghost of Peter Quint.
- “I waited and waited” – in which our heroine perfectly describes me as I read this book
- It’s been a few days since any sort of Quint-shaped intrusion, and L’s getting a little too comfortable.
- “I have spoken of the surrender to their extraordinary childish grace” – oh my god, L, we already know the kids are presh NOW SHUT UP
- side note, L’s borderline-creepy obsession with these kids is def something we discussed in detail in class
- but really, L is super preoccupied with the notion of “any clouding of their innocence” and it’s getting way weird
- oh god, and L literally just mentioned “my sharper passion for them” ugh please stop now
- so L’s rhapsodizing about how awesome everything is and then she whips out this gem: “the schoolroom piano broke into all gruesome fancies”
- just when you’re starting to get either caught up in her flight of fancy or bored with her yammering, along comes “gruesome”
- “it was no revelation to me that little girls could be slavish idolaters of little boys” – oh, now THIS is interesting
- maybe your first thought there was of Flora, but the way this is situated in the paragraph makes it seem like *L* is the little girl
- as if she longs for a return to the innocence she sees in Miles and Flora, and that’s why she’s so obsessed with their innocence
- suddenly seeing L as such a Holden Caulfield type
- …that actually makes so much sense
- “I find that I really hang back” – you don’t freakin say – “but I must take my horrid plunge.” FINALLY
- apparently “taking the plunge,” in L’s world, involves several huge paragraphs of context
- Flora’s bed is “shrouded,” which definitely isn’t creepy at all
- oooooohhhhhhhh her candle went out
- …apologies, friends, I got uber-distracted watching this:
- Anyway, back to Turn of the Screw. For real.
- brb looking up this “Fielding’s ‘Amelia'” to which L refers…
- Sadly, ‘Amelia’ is not a reference to any other Gothic work but is in fact a novel about young love in the face of unimaginable adversity
- I mean, on the one hand, BLAH. On the other hand, though, it fits in perfectly with L’s over-romanticized image of… well, everything.
- And, to no one’s surprise but L’s, Peter Quint is here again.
- “…there was nothing in me unable to meet and measure him” – oh for crying out loud
- “but I TOTALLY wasn’t scared or anything” – L, basically
- So what really scares L is… a staring contest. Whoop de do.
- me at everything L says or does, pretty much:
- I might as well keep that gif open – I’m probably going to use it again
Chapter 10 summed up: nobody can stay in their own ding-dang bed
- I still have 65 more pages of this…
- oh crap, Flora’s gone – except no, wait, she isn’t. Darn it, now *that* would have been exciting.
- I wonder if that’s not the whole point of this story – that L’s blowing literally everything way the heck out of proportion
- Hm. Flora’s rebuking L – “You naughty: where *have* you been?” – as if she’s the adult and L is the child in this situation
- Flora’s being a major creep right now
- I don’t know how to even sum it up in tweets
- So we’ve got a new ghost. I can’t even be excited at this point.
- I’m going to be brutally honest for a second – if I weren’t livetweeting this book, I probably would have quit reading it by now
- It’s just massively not my cup of tea
- Fast forward several days: Flora keeps blowing out candles in the middle of the night, and it’s weirding L out.
- Oh boy, and now Flora’s having a stare-off with – I think it’s Ghost #2…
- L’s brilliant plan is that she’s going to go to another window and look at the ghost. Awesome. Great job, L.
- And now she’s creepily tempted to go into Miles’s bedroom. She talks as if that were something forbidden.
- Oh boy- “The presence on the lawn… was poor little Miles himself.” And there’s someone else entirely on the tower.
Chapter 11 summed up: kids are weird
- L responds to this weirdness by keeping an even more watchful eye on the kids, because of course she does.
- Now L’s reminiscing about escorting Miles back indoors after she found him on the lawn.
- She’s fully expecting him to either confess to something terrible or tell a whopper of a lie… and it’s almost as if she relishes that.
- it’s hard not to side-eye phrases like “his dreadful little mind”
- she imagines she’s finally found the devilish crack in his angelic facade
- or something like that
- and now she thinks he’s out to get her, to catch her in some form of vulgarity or immorality or… something
- a good subtitle for this novel: “Paranoid Narrator Alert”
- so… Miles and Flora literally orchestrated the incident for no purpose other than to cause mischief
- I suppose I should expect no less of children
Chapter 12 summed up: L has lots of thoughts about things, and she and Grose have a bit of a spat.
- now L’s sure that the kids are talking about the ghosts behind her back AND that the sort of hijinks from last night got Miles expelled
- where before she was focusing on the kids’ angelic qualities, she focuses on what she sees as their devilish actions
- another of L’s primary concerns is that “her” kids don’t actually belong to her but to Quint and Jessel (the other ghost)
- she’s mega possessive and it’s mega weird
- Grose thinks they should get the kids away from the house ASAP… which actually isn’t a bad plan.
- Grose: hey you should totally ask the master to take the kids for a while
L: lol excuse me what
- hooboy, L just laid down the frickin’ LAW to Grose
- “if you go over my head I’m outta here faster than you can say ghost” – L, pretty much
Chapter 13 summed up: literally nothing happens
- this whole ghost business is now the elephant in the room (or so L thinks)
- It’s been a while since a sighting, and L keeps hearing the boss music, but neither Quint nor Jessel is in sight.
- Now L’s trying to tell us she gets “vibes” or whatever and I’m just like
- it’s cool when Pete Lattimer has vibes, but it’s just the latest in a long string of weird things when L has them
- L’s absolutely on tenterhooks, waiting for one of these kids to slip up and confess to the ghosts being with them or something like that
- After this chapter, I think I’m calling it quits for the night. I’m exhausted/110% done with whatever psychosexual weirdness L has going on.
- At least these chapters are like James-Patterson short
- L’s worried that Miles and Flora are seeing even more than she’s seen… which is actually completely plausible
- So she *does* retain at least a spot of common sense?…
- Literally everybody’s like “Uncle’s totally gonna show up” – somehow I really really doubt that
- This is the dude who pawned his wards off to a lady he’d just met and who doesn’t want to hear a thing about them
- “clearly the master’s not writing to the kids because I’m doing such a good job here” – L, basically. Give me a BREAK.
- L ends this chapter by talking about receiving “relief” but not actually saying what it is. Of course.
- I’m definitely not emotionally invested enough in this story to consider that a cliffhanger
Chapter 14 summed up: Miles really wants to go back to school, and he thinks himself quite the grown-up to boot. L doesn’t know what to do.
- whyyyyyy couldn’t we have just read Dracula *she mumbles, her face buried in her pillow*
- Henry James’s sentences are strung together like freakish marionettes
- Of her intense preoccupation with Miles and Flora, L says “I was like a gaoler” – at least she’s somewhat self-aware
- Miles is addressing L now, and it’s so weird, y’all
- “Look here, my dear, you know” – good grief, he sounds like he’s a thirty-year-old man addressing a child
- “His ‘my dear’ was constantly on his lips for me” – well, that’s not a creepy way to phrase it or anything
- One minute L and Miles seem like child and adult (respectively), and then the next minute they both seem like adults in peculiar intimacy
Chapter 15 summed up: L comes this close to quitting her job and getting out of Dodge.
- L doesn’t want to delve into that whole school business because she doesn’t want to know why Miles got dismissed from his old school.
- It’s a funny sort of reversal, considering how determined she was to catch both kids in some sort of deception earlier.
- L’s super tempted to leave for a bit and not go to church. You do it, girl. You go get yourself a manicure and some self-help books.
- Just when L’s about to make her break for it, she sees the ghost of Miss Jessel and decides to stay. Of course.
- Though this bit’s interesting – “I had the extraordinary chill of a feeling that it was I who was the intruder.”
- I wonder if that’s not one of L’s biggest fears- that she doesn’t *truly* belong here
- Maybe that’s why she overcompensates all the time, by cuddling the kids ferociously and such
Chapter 16 summed up: L’s reasoning skills are hit and miss, and she swears she’s going to write to her employer.
- Oh man, L’s straight-up lying to Grose about why she left. Dang.
- “She showed her surprise. ‘A friend – *you*?'” – ouch, Grose. Ouch.
- “‘I came home, my dear,’ I went on, ‘for a talk with Miss Jessel.'” Because that’s totally going to curry all the favor with Grose.
- And it kind of places Jessel under the category of “friends” mentioned earlier, which is weird as heck.
- So finally one of our ghosts speaks. Cool. I’m still too over this book to be excited.
- Tl;dr Jessel appears to be in purgatory or hell or something like that, and she “wants Flora.” Whatever L means by *that.*
- Also, L’s bound and determined to send for the uncle. I don’t know why she thinks that’s going to do a lick of good.
- L’s so sure Miles is actually wicked. Why, you ask? Because “he’s exquisite.” Commendable reasoning there, L. Marvelous.
- me at L’s weird leaps of logic:
- “‘After all,’ I said, ‘it’s their uncle’s fault. If he left here such people-!'” in which L… actually makes a good point
- And Grose’s reply? “‘He didn’t really in the least know them. The fault’s mine.'” my FOOT it is
- …which is really interesting, actually, because the uncle/master didn’t really know L when he hired her, either
- so she’s kind of lumped in with the “such people” she describes with such horror
Chapter 17 summed up: L, what are you doing? L. Stop. This is weird.
- ahahaha the first sentence of chapter 17: “I went so far, in the evening, as to make a beginning [re: the letter].”
- lol forever at L trying and failing to be stealthy as she skulks around at night
- “‘Did you fancy you made no noise? You’re like a troop of cavalry!'” – Miles, pulling zero punches
- L: “What is it that you think of?”
Miles: “What in the world, my dear, but you?”
AWK. SO AWK.
- Miles also thinks of “the way you bring me up. And all the rest!” Way to be frustratingly vague, kiddo.
- “What do you mean by all the rest?” – L, asking the real questions
- And how does Miles respond to that, you might ask? “Oh, you know, you know!” Ugh.
- Miles looks “as appealing as some wistful patient in a children’s hospital,” and I kind of want to reach into the book and slap L
- this woman literally romanticizes EVERYTHING and it’s getting SO OLD
- L points out that Miles never talks about his old school. A good point, but I fail to see how he has time, what with all their frolicking.
- “I threw myself upon him and in the tenderness of my pity I embraced him” – okay, L, I’m gonna stop you right there
- he is in his bed and you are throwing yourself upon him – don’t you think that’s a little weird? because I definitely do
- L’s acting even more possessive than she has in the rest of the book. Which is saying a LOT.
- “I just want you to help me to save you!” – L
- no but this reminds me SO MUCH of Holden Caulfield (and yes, I know Catcher in the Rye came after this)
- fittingly enough, a creepy gust of wind with no clear origin blows around Miles’s bedchamber right about now
- even the wind is telling L to stop
Chapter 18 summed up: L is actually the worst at watching over kids (no surprise there)
- So L’s actually written the letter by now, but she hasn’t sent it. Oh well, one step at a time, right?
- Blah blah blah, Miles and Flora are such little genius, SHADDUP
- L’s phrasing is distinctive, though – she calls him a “little gentleman.” As if he’s a miniature adult.
- Aaaaand Flora’s gone off god knows where. Of course.
- L is soooooooooo sure Flora’s run off to play with Miss Jessel… this is going to turn out super well…
- (I *have* been spoiled for the ending and some of the events leading up to it, but I’ll share my reactions regardless)
- Okay, L, if you’re really so concerned about not letting Quint and Jessel get to the kids, then you really shouldn’t have left Miles alone.
- Like come on, it would *not* have been that hard to turn looking for Flora into a game of hide-and-seek or something
- “‘The trick’s played,’ [L] went on, ‘they’ve successfully worked their plan.'” 1. how are you so calm about it 2. shut up forever
- L’s super eager to get out the door, and Grose is all like, “You go with nothing on?”
God, please tell me L isn’t actually buck-naked.
- I mean, this is the Victorian era, so probably not, but still. Eugh.
Chapter 19 summed up: ish maybe actually gets real this time.
- “My acquaintance with sheets of water was small” – actual words that just came from L’s mouth… pen… you know what I mean.
- I can’t decide if Grose’s internal monologue is like *this gal is wacko* or if she’s genuinely so gullible that she believes it all
- A wild Flora appears! (About time.)
- Flora is watching L over Grose’s shoulder and it’s creepy (as per usual)
- Oh, so L just went out without her *hat.* Okay. Phew.
- Though that’s interesting because it mirrors Quint’s earlier hatlessness
- Ooooohhhhhhhh, L just asked Flora outright where Miss Jessel is.
Chapter 20 summed up:
- Oh boy, now a wild Miss Jessel appears!… and L is, like, WAY too happy about it.
- Seriously, L, if you could quit with your internal I-told-you-so monologue, I’d be much obliged.
- Oh man oh man. Looks like Flora can’t see Miss Jessel. I bet Grose can’t, either.
- (I mean really, who’s surprised at that? NOT ME)
- Yep, Grose definitely doesn’t see Miss Jessel.
- Oh, so the second L realizes Flora doesn’t see Jessel, the kid becomes “common” and “almost ugly.” Jesusmadia.
- “I think you’re cruel. I don’t like you!” – Flora, speaking the first words of sense in this entire book
- Now Flora’s (justifiably) freaking out and screaming at Grose to get her away from L.
- Which Grose does (gladly, I’m sure).
- L stays outside a while, probably to wallow in self-pity or something.
- L’s brooding by a fire now, some hours later, and Miles sits with her. That’d be cute if this story wasn’t already so creeptastic.
Chapter 21 summed up: L is a raging paranoiac, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at this stage.
- It’s a brand new day, and Flora has – oh crap, Flora has a fever. That’s not good.
- maybe she suffers from a case of stickittodamanniosis
- (I need to rewatch School of Rock like yesterday)
- And L’s all like “she still says she hasn’t seen anything?” Nothing about the fever, just about the ghost.
- Oh man, L is going off. “Ah she’s ‘respectable,’ the chit!”
- Hey L, you’re like two inches from being out of a job right now. You may want to chill.
- Ugh, after seeing “The Innocents” in class, I can’t read about L and Miles “kiss[ing] for goodnight” the same way
- Now *that* was a freaky movie
- What really mystifies me here is how this lady got hired as a governess *again.*
- Remember back in the very, very beginning, all those weeks ago? L was the governess to Douglas’s nieces.
- And Douglas had the hots for her, to boot.
- me right now:
- OH man. Flora’s apparently been slandering L behind her back.
- Which just makes things worse, honestly, because L was already *so sure* Flora was some devil child, and now she’s just getting confirmation
- and L’s *laughing* at this all like
- L: lol so that letter I wrote, right????
Grose: um about that
Grose: I mean I’m not saying Miles took it
but it’s gone
- Wow, now *Grose* is the one who’s sure Miles got expelled from school for stealing, and L’s playing devil’s advocate.
- L fancies herself quite the priest. She’s fantasizing about getting Miles to “confess” and stuff. As you do.
Chapter 22 summed up: this chapter could have been written by a squirrel trying to use a computer and it would have been more interesting
- L’s like LA LA LA I’M SO INDUSTRIOUS AND GREAT and I still want to punch her in the face
- blah blah blah blah blah please god make something happen because nothing is happening
- Now Miles is asking about Flora over dinner, and it’s the first time in this whole chapter that something has actually happened.
- Miles: “Well – so we’re alone!” Unfortunately for you.
other things more interesting than this chapter: Irene Iddisleigh, cricket, watching ants drown in ant killer, My Immortal
Chapter 23 summed up: nobody wants to talk about the thing (whatever the thing is)
- And how does this next chapter begin? With L replying, “Oh, more or less.” Cool.
- So according to Miles, the servants who are still at Bly don’t count for much. Siiiiiighhhhhhhhhhhh
- Miles is staring out of a window, and you would not BELIEVE how much L’s reading into that.
- this dialogue between L and Miles is uncomfortably romantic-sounding
- Okay, now L and Miles are just playing a giant immature game of Who Can Avoid Mentioning The Elephant In The Room The Longest?
- Miles is finally starting to get uncomfortable. ABOUT TIME, KID.
- nope. nope. nope. nope. not dealing with that paragraph
- there are just… certain words that you will almost never have a good reason to use. ever.
- I feel as if this gif is pertinent right now:
- so everybody in this book keeps referring to some guy named Luke (probably one of those servants who doesn’t count, amirite?)
- and I can’t help but wonder what Luke thinks of all this
- L: *is her usual raging paranoid self*
- get it trending
- Ohhhhh boy. L just asked Miles, in her typical casual way*, if he stole the letter.*by which I mean really not casual at all
Chapter 24 in a nutshell: straight-up murder, I’m pretty sure.
- Last chapter, folks. And full disclosure, I’ve already done a close reading of this section for class.
- So I know what happens. Or I think I know.
- no matter, I’ll have a lot to snark about regardless
- A WILD PETER QUINT APPEARS OUTSIDE THE WINDOW, HECK YEAH
- like seriously, at this point I’m outright rooting for the creepy ghost
- Quint: lol did you miss me?
L: OH SH-
L: I mean what
L: nothing’s wrong, Miles, just DON’T LOOK AT THE WINDOW
- “It was like fighting with a demon for a human soul” – and if this doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the book, I don’t know what does
- y’all, I’m so close to being done
- so close
- Miles took the letter, y’all. He’s actually guilty of something.
- “At this, with a moan of joy” – okay, L, I’m going to stop you RIGHT THERE
- Ooh, and Miles OPENED the letter. SO SCANDALOUS
- …and he burned it. Okay, that’s actually mildly worrying.
- “Did I *steal*?” Miles says this as if it’s such an impossibility. L, for her part, is all like *omg have I been impertinent?*
- “my hands – but it was for pure tenderness – shook him” – HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, L.
- WHY does she think that’s okay
- Now she’s trying to get more juicy confessions out of Miles, and the kid is *not* delivering.
- L: seriously what did you do
Miles: I said things
L: like what
Miles: and stuff
- He said things to “those I liked,” too – and here, folks, is the one point at which I can agree with the Miles-is-gay interpretation
- (seriously, we read an essay for class in which the critic basically described this last scene as Miles’s struggle between straight and gay)
- (I mostly side-eyed it, but this line… yeah, I can see it here.)
- “I seemed to float not into clearness, but into a darker obscure” – oh look, L and I had the same initial reaction to that line from Miles
- “…if he *were* innocent, what then on earth was I?” – another snippet that basically sums up the passage
- And would you look at that, Peter Quint’s returned from his smoke break or whatever and is at the window again.
- And oh boy, does L ever FLIP OUT.
- “…made me, with a single bound and an irrepressible cry, spring straight upon him” – yeah. I’m just gonna leave that there
- L’s screeching at Quint, Miles has no idea what in blazes is going on, and things are just generally a big ol’ mess.
- Ooh, Miles is “at [L] in a white rage.” Dang, boy.
- I will forever choose to believe that the person to whom Miles refers when he says “you devil!” is L
- So okay, this second-to-last bit still confuses me.
- Basically it’s like… L thinks if Miles says Quint’s name, it’ll break the spell? And then he says it, so L’s like YUSSSS
- But Miles is still looking around for Quint’s ghost, which ticks her off.
- And then he’s visibly distressed, which ticks her off more.
- L: everything’s FINE now, GOSH
Miles: what are you talking about
Miles: literally nothing is fine
- Now, this last part… I’m pretty sure L straight-up murders Miles.
- In order:
-Miles yells like “a creature hurled over an abyss”
-L “recovers” him with a grasp that she likens to “catching him in his fall”
- -L “caught him”
-L “held him”
-“it may be imagined with what a passion”
-all this lasted for “a minute” (L’s words, not mine)
- and after this minute, guess what? “…his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped.”
- so my conclusion is that L strangled Miles.
- and on that inimitably optimistic note, I AM FINALLY DONE WITH THIS WRETCHED LITTLE BOOK OH MY SWEET LORD YES
- should I throw the book across my bedroom? I kind of want to
- update: I did, and it was so satisfying
Thank heavens that’s done. The next book on my list (and the last one on the syllabus for capstone!) is The Phantom of the Opera. I’ll commence livetweeting that pretty soon. Till then: