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  1. Sissy

    Turn of the Screw

    Henry James entitled a novella, The Turn of the Screw. What's does that expression mean?

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    Re: Turn of the Screw

    It can mean a slow increase in pressure.

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    Re: Turn of the Screw

    Yes; if you look on the first page, you'll see that the character Douglas uses the phrase:

    1. "...the child gives the effect another turn of the screw..."

    i.e. "the fact that the ghost appeared to a little boy gives the story another twist, another increase in literary pressure."

    Near the end, interestingly, the governess herself uses the phrase:

    2. "...another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue".

    Here, the sense is slightly different: the governess means she must screw up her courage (i.e. tighten it, like a screw, so it doesn't slip) to face the ordeal.

    Cf. Lady Macbeth's words to Macbeth: "screw your courage to the sticking-place, And we'll not fail."

    All the best,


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