“Exactly” hangs between the lines

After reading a novel, people often have the habit of asking “what”. If you happen to find a satisfactory answer, you can breathe a sigh of relief, and you will feel a sense of enlightenment. 1843-1916)’s novel “The Screw Is Tightening”, after reading it through or reading it carefully, it is not so easy to pick up a topic at random and think about it. After thinking about it, it seems that I can’t find the right answer, but I feel unwilling, and I end up dreaming about it. I’m afraid this is the “missing effect” that James intends to leave readers!

The opening of the novel is intriguing and whetted the reader’s appetite. “I” met Douglas at a party, who claimed to be telling a horrific story. But the story is on the books, tucked away in a locked drawer in Douglas’s London apartment. It was recorded by the female teacher who experienced this horrific story and entrusted her manuscript to Douglas on her deathbed. To listen to the story, it took a lot of trouble, and it was necessary for Douglas to send the key to the servant, and the servant took out the manuscript and mailed it, so that it could be published. Two days later, the manuscript arrived on schedule, and “I” finally listened to Douglas’s recitation.

Next, what is presented to the reader is the transcript of “I” based on Douglas’s reading; and the narrator “I” in the text is the governess who has been dead for more than 20 years. The female teacher is the daughter of a poor country pastor, and she is about to go to Bly Manor to take up a teaching position. Her employer, the hero of the novel, is far away in London, and entrusts her to teach and care for her nephew Miles and niece Flora, who live in an ancestral home in the country. The job was well paid, except for one condition that sounded harsh and eccentric, that no matter what happened in the manor, she had to face it alone, take it on her own and not bother her employer. A girl who is looking for a job for the first time and has no experience in the world is in a rush when facing her employer, because she has never seen such a handsome, suave, and generous single man before. Maybe it is because of her fascination with mature masculinity, or she is not sure about herself. Looking forward to the future, she bravely accepted the job.

When I first arrived at Bly Manor, everything seemed peaceful and beautiful – the quaint country mansion, the angel-like little Flora, the otherworldly little Miles, the kind housekeeper Mrs. Gross, and the courteous servants , all of which gave her the illusion that she was “inexplicably steering the helm” on a drifting ship.

However, the good times did not last long, and the letter of persuasion from Myers School broke the inner peace of the female teacher. Then, while she was walking, she encountered a ghost again. Afterwards, she told her experience to the housekeeper Mrs. Gross. With her help and identification, the female teacher gradually confirmed that the ghost’s identity was Peter Quint. She learned from Mrs. Gross that Quint was a heinous fellow who had had an inappropriate relationship with a former governess, Miss Jessel. Jessel was sent home because she was pregnant with Quint’s child, and soon died in childbirth. Quint also stumbled due to drinking and accidentally fell and died.

In the following period of time, the ghosts of Quint and Jessel frequently appeared, haunting the two children, trying to control the will of the two children. In order not to let the ghosts corrupt the children’s hearts, but also to enable herself to do her job well and win the favor of the male master, the female teacher bravely took on the important task of protecting the two innocent little lives.

And just like that, a battle for the child begins between the female teacher and the ghost. Strangely enough, in the entire Bligh Manor, only the female teacher can see ghosts. One afternoon, the female teacher and Flora were playing by the lake, when Jessel’s ghost appeared. The female teacher believes that Flora also saw it but pretended not to know, so she suspects that there must be an unspeakable secret between the girl and the ghost. After that, the two children played a prank together at night, which made the female teacher even more suspicious. Thinking of the letter of persuasion from Myers School, she further confirmed that the two children were not what she imagined. Naive and innocent, she assumed that they must be having a secret association with ghosts.

The sensitivity and suspicion of the female teacher and her side-talking gradually disturbed the two children. From time to time, they showed their rebellion and wanted to break free from the female teacher’s mercy. One day, the female teacher couldn’t find Flora. She took Mrs. Gross to the lake to look for it, and she found the ghost Jessel and Flora here again “date”. The governess hysterically urged the girl to admit Jessel’s existence: “There she is, you poor little one—there, there, there, you see her as clearly as you see me!” However, Flora didn’t admit it at all, wailing at Mrs. Gross, who was “blindfolded” to see no ghosts: “I don’t see anyone. I don’t see anything. I’ve never seen… the Take me away, take me away—take me away from her!” Fear and mania made Flora so ill that Mrs. Gross had to take her away from Bly Manor.

Just like a screw that has been tightened, the more you tighten it, the harder it becomes, and the more you tighten it, the more you tighten it, the story of ups and downs is finally approaching its climax. After Mrs. Gross and Flora leave, the teacher and Miles are left alone, and she asks him to confess his “bad deeds” at the school, just as Quint’s ghost reappears and the three sides finally confront each other. The nearly collapsed female teacher used amazing courage to “win” Miles back from Quint, and Miles finally completely belonged to the female teacher, but his “little, displaced heart, had stopped.” jumping”.

After reading the novel, I couldn’t let go for a long time. A series of “exact” questions followed. Was the female teacher guilty of Miles’ death? Are there ghosts in the book? Although these topics are not new, they can always easily grab the hearts of batch after batch of readers. Since the book came out, its readers have been divided. Some people think that ghosts do exist, and the female teacher’s righteousness and rescuing the children are commendable; others think that the female teacher is an extreme pervert, the so-called ghosts are just her “inner demons”, and everything is her imagination. It came out that Miles was killed by her in the name of love. However, in the author’s opinion, the female teacher is a victim and a tragic figure worthy of sympathy.

In fact, the ultimate fate of female teachers has already begun to take shape when she first seeks a teaching position. She came from a humble background, young and inexperienced. Before she was hired, she obviously underestimated the great responsibilities and lonely living conditions she would face in the future. Although she was quite hesitant, the salary promised by the employer was much higher than her humble salary. requirements; on the other hand, the demeanor and heroism of the male host fascinates the female teacher. For female teachers, “if it wasn’t for the encounter in a dream, or in an old novel, such a character would never have met each other.” Coupled with the splendid residence and the hero’s arrogance, these irresistible temptations have become The factor that the female teacher nodded resolutely in the re-interview and signed up for employment.

“Screw Tightening”
In addition, the most important thing is that the female teacher failed to understand the condition put forward by the male master that “no matter what happens, she will live forever and never bother him, and she will take care of all the big and small matters, so that he will be free from trouble.” This condition In fact, it means that the male host has completely left his responsibilities as the uncle of the two children. Not only that, but through this “retreat” method, the male host has also firmly established his control over the female teacher. In the end, he deliberately described the whole thing as a gift and favor from the female teacher, and held her hand to thank her for her self-sacrifice. Little did he know that all of this was a trap he set up for the female teacher in advance. The kind-hearted female teacher felt that she had “already been rewarded” after she voluntarily fell into the trap.

After coming to Bly Manor, the female teacher has always been obsessed with the master. She often fantasized about being able to meet the master again. Therefore, when she met Quint for the first time, she almost rashly assumed that he was the male host, and only after she came back did she realize that “the man who looked at me face to face was definitely not the one I had never forgotten before”. The female teacher also fantasized about being able to please and impress the male master with her loyalty. On the one hand, the female teacher holds the belief that the male master may come at any time, on the other hand, she understands the lack of contact of the male master as her trust and praise.

Being in the huge Bligh Manor, taking on the important task of teaching a pair of minor nobles, and being respected by the housekeepers and servants, all this made the female teacher have an illusion, as if she was sitting on a drifting ship” inexplicably at the helm.” This metaphor actually shows the female teacher’s dream of becoming the hostess of the manor one day. The admiration for the upper class and the long-cherished desire to get rid of poverty and rewrite their own destiny have prompted female teachers to seek a foothold in this patriarchal society with strict hierarchies and many barriers. If she can combine with the male host and be promoted to the hostess of the manor, then she will be able to kill two birds with one stone – not only realize her dream of love, but also settle down in the upper class. Sadly, however, the chance for the female teacher to meet the male host has come to an end. Since then, the host has never made a public appearance. A rather ironic fact emerges: by the time the female teacher gets up and rushes to Bly Manor, the master has abandoned her.

Fortunately, the female teacher met Miles, the nephew of the male owner, at Bly Manor. Although Miles is only an eleven-year-old boy, his “holy qualities”, “unworldliness” and “indescribable nuanced temperament” make female teachers irresistible. Sensitive characteristics and unique talents make Miles’ gestures, words and deeds quite like a mature teenager, and his childish elegance often makes female teachers fascinated. Since the male host disappeared, the female teacher could only transfer her feelings to Miles. It seemed that with Miles, she also had the male host’s spring breeze and moisturizing love. This can be confirmed from the wild thoughts of the female teacher when eating with Miles, “We are so indifferent, we are like a young couple on a honeymoon, living in a small inn, waiting for a waiter. Shame in front of life.” The metaphor of “little husband and wife” seems to reveal the inner voice of the female teacher. So when the female teacher realized that Quint was looking for Miles, her heart tensed. She was very afraid of losing Miles, losing her lover, just like losing the man who was so far away in London that she was looking forward to it. In this sense, the behavior of the female teacher who would rather risk her life to win back Miles is the embodiment of desperately defending her love and dreams.

In short, the female teacher wrongly placed her love and trust on the male host, but did not realize that the male host was actually a playboy who played with women. Her fervent desire to pursue love and dreams, and her unfulfilled despair, eventually twisted into a force that destroyed everything, not only leading to Miles’ death, but also her own life. From a broad perspective, the female teacher’s final struggle, like a moth to the fire and a jade to burn, is nothing more than an attempt to break through the barriers set up by the entire patriarchal society for women. Dissatisfaction and accusation of the entire patriarchal society represented.

Regarding the ghosts of Quint and Jessel, although the female teachers always hold that they are symbols of evil and depravity, I think they also have something worthy of sympathy. First of all, in the multiple rounds of struggle against ghosts, the female teacher always confirmed her inference from the words of the housekeeper Mrs. Gross, so the female teacher judged that the two were a pair of lewds based on these words alone. Perhaps too simplistic and arbitrary. She ignores the fact that former governess Miss Jessel is also a victim. Looking back at the tragic end of Jessel’s expulsion from the manor and his death in childbirth, how similar the fate of the female teacher is! Without exception, they are all pawns used and manipulated by the male master. As for Quint, the male master’s personal servant, perhaps it is by virtue of the male master’s acquiescence and connivance that he is able to act arrogantly, do evil things, and fearlessly in the manor.

Secondly, why is the housekeeper Mrs. Gross, who has a close relationship with the female teacher, and is always able to confirm the female teacher’s assumption at a critical moment? Who’s to make sure she’s not scheming or wearing tinted glasses when describing Quint and Jessel? Maybe she is simply an eyeliner set by the male master beside the female teacher, guiding her astray step by step while monitoring the female teacher’s every move? Maybe there is an unknown secret between the ghost and the two children, so that they are still depressed after death, and have to linger in Bly Manor?

Finally, the female teacher has been dead for more than 20 years. Before her death, she entrusted the recorded manuscript to Douglas, the storyteller, and what is presented to the reader is what the listener “I” did according to Douglas’s recitation. record. Who can be sure that there is not the slightest bit of loss or gap in this narrative shift after another, or add the subjective assumptions of Douglas as the teacher’s admirer or “I” as the listener and recorder? After all, Douglas and “I” are both representatives who can exercise rights in this patriarchal society, so it is not impossible for them to give some of their own emotional colors to the story of the female teacher.

All in all, after reading the novel “The Screw Is Tightening”, discussions and questions about the “exactly” in it have always lingered in my mind, and the answer is always ever-changing and unfinished. James is worthy of being a great realist writer. His detailed and step-by-step psychological descriptions always make readers’ hearts like a screwed-up screw, never slackening. However, the mountains and rivers are full of doubts, and there are many hidden flowers and bright villages. If you have to compare the truth and find out the truth, it turns out that “the truth” is already hanging between the lines. This is the process of reading and interpretation.

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