Purpose:  Write a single well-designed introductory paragraph of a paper which examines the psychological dimensions of the Governess or of Miles. I will look closely at two parts of this paragraph:

  • The thesis sentence.  See the course pack on designing the thesis:  specific, accurate, carefully crafted, insightful.
  • The sentences leading up to it which should provide some theoretical or practical justification for the thesis.  The theoretical dimension may be psych. lit. theory or other approaches which discuss the general craft of understanding texts.  The practical dimension might grab one or two key/salient points from the text itself on which to base the position of the thesis.

Beyond that, the paragraph should be the finest introductory paragraph you’ve created, replete with meaning, well-crafted sentences, appropriate text, even imagery, and a lack of waste.

Sample Intro

PDF Link

A Quick How-To:

  • 0:00  Intro and Directions
  • 1:10  New Model:  Mrs. Grose Outline
  • 6:30  Composing the Paragraph
  • 12:00 Revision by Adding Text
  • 13:30 Verb Revision
  • 19:30 Repetition Removal and Refining
    • *Ballet from Romeo & Juliet, by the way

Intro Sample from the Video

Mrs. Grose in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw seems a simple foil for the Governess’ bizarre machinations and hallucinations, but the psychological dementia of the Victorian period also ironically cultivates a woman socially “trained to silence her own beliefs” (Chisnell, “AP Literature Coursepack” 111).  In this sense, Grose’s inability to escape her position of class, illiteracy, or servitude fosters a creature of nervousness, silences, and duty, obfuscating her own motivations and allowing the Governess to fill in her own slanted ones.  Perhaps even jealous in her scorn of Quint, she declares him “much too free” with the boy, underscoring her own repression.  While the Governess and the former servant Quint give birth to much of the tragedy and horror of the novel, Grose serves as midwife, placing her own humanity in the hands of the Governess and becoming Reisman’s “other-directed personality;” Grose therefore shares part responsibility for the death which follows, if not herself entirely blameworthy for it.

Weaker Samples: Can You Guess My Comments on the Blue Sections of These?

The Governess’ Psychology

In constant emulation between standards of success and fears of stagnation, the governess’ distraught over the children assists her own striving to become someone of importance.  She is regularly concerned for Flora and Miles– often misconstruing typical situations into something of great significance.  She cannot have the children think poorly of her, and when Miles took the letter and read its contents, the governess was overjoyed to hear him say that there was nothing in that letter for him to think down on her for.  The governess uses the children to fulfill her need to become truly successful.

  • Text from novel?
  • Specific psychological approach?
Governess Isolation

In Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, the Governess fails to find her resolution to the psycho-social developmental stage of intimacy versus isolation and therefore finds herself in an exclusion, a tendency to isolate herself from society by being the role of Miles’ and Flora’s governess and develops a pitiful paranoia in attempt to compensate for her loneliness.  The Governess’s paranoia becomes destructive and causes her to create conflicts between the children and her to validate for her hallucinations of Quint and Miss Jessel’s ghosts, which ultimately triggers her, in the end, to lose her mind to the fears, suspicions, and skepticisms she holds.

  • Text from novel?
Miles and Confusion

The relationship Miles has with the governess in The Turn of the Screw can be explained by Erikson’s second step in his stages of development: General Identity Confusion. Confusion started when Miles was expelled from school, causing educational problems. Henry James’ sexual diction between Miles and the governess implies Miles’ confusion in sexual development. His attempt to “merge with a leader” causes even more confusion when the leader forces an untrue identity on him. The combination of the governess’ idealistic expectations of Miles and the development of his physiological self before his psychological self results in Miles’ tragic ultimate imbalance which kills him.

  • Text from novel?