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NOVEL/WINTER 1971 Thus a rhythm of "flights and drops," of relaxation and recoil, is established early in the story and continued as the notorious complications of the plot are set in motion. Note the context of the governess' first view of Quint: it is evening, her allotted time for recreation. Appropriately enough, as she strolls in the garden, her mind and guard relaxed, she is musing about the handsome Harley Street bachelor and her own sensations. It is her pleasure hour, and she apprehends the meaning of pleasure too at Bly. "I learnt something... that had not been one of the teachings of my small, smothered life; learnt to be amused, and even amusing, and not to think for the morrow. It was the first time, in a manner, that I had known space and air and freedom, all the music of summer and all the mystery of nature" (p. 34). Then she catches sight of the stranger on the tower, and the mocking echo of her thoughts in the "strange freedom" and "sign of familiarity of his wearing no hat," is only one entry in what will be a varied catalogue of ironic inversions on the theme of expanse and impasse. The freedom and familiarity here, to be sure, are an upstart freedom and an impudent familiarity, and just the reverse of her thoughts of space and air and the handsome face of "someone." But the terms are chosen for their ambiguity, and a subtle taint of deja vu and a fascination suggesting desire are connected with every appearance of the ghosts. Accompanying every ghostly manifestation in "The Turn of the Screw" is, to the governess' sense, a suspension of nature, "a drop of all sound and move- ment"; to ours it is as if the action of her natural senses rebounds in swift con- traction from the evidence of her eyes. Her vision, her point of view, is in effect a usurpation of her other senses. It was as if, while I took in-what I did take in-all the rest of the scene had been stricken with death. I can hear again, as I write, the intense hush in which the sounds of evening dropped. The rooks stopped cawing in the golden sky and the friendly hour lost, for the minute, all its voice. But there was no other change in nature, unless indeed it were a change that I saw with a stranger sharpness. The gold was still in the sky, the clearness in the air, and the man who looked at me over the battlements was as definite as a picture in a frame. (pp. 36-7) By the reference to "picture" and by others like it the governess, it seems to me, is here likening her visions to her point of view as narrator, as stylist. Another time she remarks, "I saw him as I see the letters I form on this page" (p. 37). That is just how clearly we see him too, as clearly as we can read her picture, her imag- ing of her experiences. The governess' suspensions of physical sensation help to define what is at issue in "The Turn of the Screw." The rich and promising en- vironment of Bly in effect emphasizes her solitude. Sense perception is the mind's
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