Analysis of the Poor Girl by Elizabeth Taylor and the Turn of Screw by Henry James - Essay Prowess

Analysis of the Poor Girl by Elizabeth Taylor and the Turn of Screw by Henry James


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Analysis of the Poor Girl by Elizabeth Taylor and the Turn of Screw by Henry James


The two books, Poor Girl and The Turn of Screw have both the similarities and differences in terms of themes, characters, and settings. The two books are similar because the authors intend to deliver the theme of corruption of the innocent children. In this regard, ghosts affect the lives of young children in both books.   However, settings of the Turn of Screw is different because takes place on Bly grounds while The Poor Girl takes place in undisclosed home.

Analysis of the main characters

The Turn of the Screw by James Henry and Poor Girl by Elizabeth Taylor are similar because they use the governesses as their main characters. In the book, the Turn of the Screw, the narrator of the story is a young governess (James, 2014). However, they differ because the governess in the Turn of the Screw remains anonymous throughout the narration. The governess was responsible of taking care of her uncle’s children, i.e. Flora and Miles (James, 2014). After the governess meets Flora and Miles, she admires them but later she became suspicious of their action. She learnt that their actions and words were intended to deceive her. Nonetheless, she was sure the children were innocent. She is passionate with the children and sometimes she kisses Miles but the text depicts this as harmless. On the other hand, the narrator is volatile to the children hence their relationship is not always good. Increasing scepticism from Mrs Grose raises the fears and visions of the governess, which proposes that she may be losing her mind (James, 2014). In the story, Poor Girl by Elizabeth Taylor, Miss Florence Chasty is a young governess. She has the responsibility of taking care of Hilary who is seven-years old.  The books are different because Miss Florence Chasty was Hillary’s teacher (Taylor 2009). Additionally, both books are similar because governesses are fascinating characters as they narrate their stories. At the beginning of both books, these governesses appear romantic to the children and they have higher acceptance of their jobs.

The books, Turn of the Screw and Poor Girl are similar because they demonstrate the young governesses with excessive care for the kids. Therefore, they can be regarded as heroines (James, 2014). Moreover, both governesses in Poor Girl and The Turn of the Screw are sane but they became victims of supernatural beings. In this respect, both are viewed as heroine because their actions are towards protecting the children. Additionally, they both appear to be ambitious in positions, which they are required to struggle bravely in order to protect the children from ghostly forces (Taylor 2009). They also demonstrate that the supernatural visitors psychologically affect the children. From this perspective, both governesses are noble, intelligent and strong-minded young ladies. Nonetheless, both governesses are victim of ghostly visitors at the end of the story (James, 2014).

In a different perspective, both governesses in the books Poor Girl and The Turn of the screw are depicted as insane. In this respect, the ghostly activities are a demonstration of repressed and tormented state of their mind. For instance, in the Turn of the Screw by Henry James, Wilson indicates that he could see Freudian symbolism in the narrative. In this case, the governess is depicted as an anxious and sexually suppressed lady (James, 2014). Furthermore, since they are inexperienced young ladies, who are always nervous, they ultimately become affected by dangerous hallucinations or fabrication. Consequently, their hidden wishes force them to be mad. Therefore, the governesses are demonstrated as untrustworthy characters (Hoeveler, 2005).

The books The Turn of the Screw by James Henry and Poor Girl by Elizabeth Taylor have similar themes of the corruption of the innocent. Both governesses show that they fear the supernatural ghosts, which may harm the children. For instance, in the book, the Turn of the Screw, the death of Miles is surprising because the supernatural beings do not seem as a threat. In both books, the lives of the children seem to be distracted by ghosts. The governess in the Poor Girls does not take serious action of protecting the boy, Hilary. For instance, she noted heavy and mysterious fragrance in the air which she could not understand its source. Miss Chasty revealed out that there are supernatural beings that are beyond her power in her house of work because she could not feel a peace there. Nonetheless, Miss Chasty does not do enough to protect Hilary from corruption of the ghost in their house (Taylor 2009). In addition, she failed to notify her parents when she identified red stain where her lips were on the cup.

Jessel and Quint have corrupted both Flora and Miles. In addition, the governess has also learnt that Miles is also responsible of corrupting other children in his school. On the contrary, the books are different because the governess in the Turn of the Screw tried to save Flora from supernatural beings by sending her away (James, 2014). Although the meaning of word exposure is not clearly demonstrated, the governesses know that the children are exposed to sex. Based on the governesses’ opinions, the exposure of children to sex is very dangerous factor as compared to confronting the supernatural beings. Similarly, Miss Florence Chasty knows that Hilary has sexual affection towards her. The boy kisses Miss Chasty when she felt a great sense of disappointment but when at school she felt a completely different individual. The boy also leans towards her and makes bold statements when in schoolroom, which makes her afraid (Taylor 2009). Therefore, she understands that dark forces that influence his sexual orientation may possess the boy.

Since both governesses understand that supernatural beings are determined to harm the lives of the children, they do very little in predicting what they might experience in the future. Instead, the governess in the Turn of the Screw tries to make the children admit what they know (Hoeveler, 2005). However, the governess is afraid of the innocence being corrupted, which forces her to indirectly solve the problem. Similarly, the Miss Chasty does not make significant attempts to help Hilary from the supernatural beings. It seems she fear the supernatural forces so much that she is afraid of informing her employers – Mr and Mrs Wilson.

The issue of corruption is a fearful conjecture instead of accepted fact in both books. In fact, both governesses fear them, which is destructive. Therefore, both do not initiate adequate attempts to save the children from living dead. Although the governesses are vigilant and fearful of this corruption, they lack experience on how to deal with sexual matters (Hoeveler, 2005). For instance, Miss Chasty does not demonstrate her experience in helping Hilary after the latter kisses her. Addition, her desires towards sex coupled with dark forces increases her fear to solve the situation.

However, The Turn of the Screw is different from Poor Girl because, the governess is responsible of taking care of the children as well as large estate. In addition, her uncle (employer) isolates her to deal with the problem alone hence he remains absent throughout the narrative. The governess is forced to confront the problem because her employer has left her. The employer never comes up to know how the children are growing. The governess views the challenges as a crucial opportunity to satisfy her employer.  On the contrary, Miss Chasty in the book, the Poor Girl has the opportunity to inform her employers (Taylor 2009). Nonetheless, she remains silent but Mr and Mrs Wilson decide to send her away after realizing not all is well. At the beginning, when Miss Chasty realized that the boy had sexual attraction towards her at the age of seven, she did not take appropriate actions to inform his parents. Instead, she thought she was just a very young boy. Most notably, when she realized that the boy was corrupted she decided to remain silent prior to taking appropriate actions (Taylor 2009).

The book, The Turn of the Screw and Poor Child are similar because the whole narratives take place at school and their home. However, they are different because the book the Turn of the Screw takes place in a remote country estate in Bly grounds (James, 2014). The home where the narrative occurs is creepy and old. In addition, from the start of the story, the home seems to be a haunted place. In both books, homes are normally a disorienting place where they feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, they feel peace when they move outside their homes. In this regard, both houses seem to be possessed by dark forces. For instance, Miss Chasty admits that she feel differently when in a schoolroom than in the house. Moreover, the governess stays away from the house because she needs time alone. As the narrative progresses, the whole estate feels more oppressive (Taylor 2009). Due to the continuous state of isolation in both books, there is high sense of tension throughout the narration. Both the governess has limited contact from the rest of the world. However, the governess in the Turn of the Screw has contact of the outside world especially on Sunday when she attends church service. On the contrary, the governess in Poor Girl has contact of the outside world through the school.


The books, the Turn of the Screw and Poor Girl have both similarities and differences. They are similar because they both have the theme of corruption of the innocent. In this regard, ghostly beings possess the children (Hoeveler, 2005). Consequently, they have knowledge about sex when they are very young. In addition, young governesses are mandated to take of the children. However, because are inexperienced on how to deal with ghostly, the lives of the children are at risk (Taylor 2009). The two books are different because, Miss Chasty is a Hilary’s teacher while the governess in The Turn of the Screw is the not. Moreover, the setting of The Turn of the Screw takes place in Bly grounds while Poor Girl is not disclosed.


Hoeveler, D. (2005). Teaching the Turn of the Screw Metatextuall.

James, H. (2014). Turn of the screw. [S.l.]: Trajectory, Inc.

Taylor E., (2009), Ghost Stories – Poor Girl. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.