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English 167 Second Paper - Eric Dobson Section 324 The...

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Eric Dobson 10/14/2006 Section 324 The Nature of Perception in The Turn of the Screw In The Turn of the Screw , Henry James argues that human perception is naturally subjective, and that people will often interpret others and their actions in the manner that reflects their self-perception and their desires. As the governess’ situation changes, so does her concept of her role at Bly. As this role changes, her perception of the other characters and their actions shifts accordingly to suit it. The governess’ perception of the children and of Bly upon her arrival reflects her disposition upon arriving at a new situation, a situation that she believes promises positive things to come. She states her original goals and intentions at Bly in saying, “To watch, teach, ‘form’ little Flora would too evidently be the making of a happy and useful life” (8). Her benevolent perception of the children at the beginning of their relationship reflects this. She describes Flora as “a creature so charming as to make it a great fortune to have to do with her” (7) and Miles as having a “indescribable little air of knowing nothing in the world but love. (13)” In seeking this simple, peaceful life with the children, her description of the estate at Bly follows accordingly. She tells of remembering, “as a most pleasant impression the broad, clear front, its open windows and fresh curtains and a pair of maids looking out” and that “the scene had a greatness that made it a different affair from my home. (7)” This version of life, that she is at this point seemingly completely satisfied with, is portrayed through her perception of the manor and of those that inhabit it.
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