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I think that obfuscation is used in the story to allow readers to have different interpretations. This is accomplished by telling the story solely through the governess. People can perceive her as a heroic governess trying to save the children from ghosts or a somewhat hysterical woman. As I've read farther into the book I've seen her more as the latter.
I think that although it is also used to provide varied interpretations of the story, that obfuscation is primarily used in order to accentuate and highlight the mental illness aspect of the Governess. I think that by making the story confusing to read, the author is pointing us subconsciously towards the idea that there is something mentally unsettled underneath the cover of the Governess being a caretaker. This almost comes to fruition with her being the only one to be seeing ghosts (as far as I've read). Thoughts?
@jacksonvon Yeah is obfuscating the story quite a bit. But since she is only sharing her perspective then it is quite easy for her to blur what is going on. But the reason why she does this may seem to protect herself ,or maybe to give herself some sort of false illusion.
@gil I agree that that point is true. If we don't fully understand something that can make up uncomfortable, and when there is already a horror aspect it can make us feel nervous or even frightened. Also, someone acknowledged the fact that this obfuscation is the product of the author, not the governess. Even though this is slightly obvious, it is definitely important when considering the goal of the obfuscation. It's either Henry James trying to install fear in his readers or him trying to portray the fear of the governess
@jacksonvon I like this point a lot,
Posted by: @jacksonvon
it is a bit more complexed than what the governess provides us
because we do only know what she tells us. Throughout the story she continues to get more and more overbearing to the children, she smothers them in questions and she becomes almost hysterical over not knowing. This to me makes it seem as though her judgement/ clear thinking is being clouded by the distress (rightfully so) and we may never get the true recall of events. Additionally, as you state, there are many other perspectives that we will never know and that leaves a lot up for the reader's interpretation.
I think the obfuscation is quite annoying. My brain really wants less adjectives and less nonsense!! However, I also think this strategy mimics the governess's way of thinking. After all, she is recollecting her experience, so she is only sharing what she wants to, which may not be how it was. I think that as she writes this journal she has conflicting feelings about the story. Perhaps she knows something isn't quite right in her subconscious, and James writes it to just quickly hint at what she sees, and what the rest of her brain knows. And like some others were saying, the obfuscation adds to the fear factor of the novella. It is scarier to not know the truth.
@stella I think this is a very important thing to note about how the book was written. We only see the governess' point of view. And because of its intent to confuse us as readers, many different interpretations can occur. I think the most important interpretation that has to be made by readers is about the governess. Is she normal, telling the story exactly as it happened? Is she biased? Are the ghosts real? Or are there in her imagination? Depending on the reader's interpretation, the theme, storyline, and meaning of the book can be taken in many different directions.
@conster, I agree. I think because the story is told directly from the governesses perspective, the story is more difficult to understand. However, I didn't think that it was something that was made subtle by the author. I think there are a lot of hints in how the governess tells the story that she may be dealing with a mental illness.
@aplitstudent123, I think that anytime a story is told from a first-person perspective, it will be a least somewhat biased. In this book, I saw a lot of bias coming out through the governess's narration. Specifically, I saw this with her views of the children as the book progressed. What I interpreted as normal behavior from the children, the governess saw it as grounds for suspicion as if the children were plotting against her. To me, this was the biggest indicator that the governess's telling of the story might not be completely accurate.
for sure the more that I have been reading the novel a theory which I have beginning to start considering is the fact that the governess is lying about the ghosts to cover herself from any of the issues which are going on at the estate. Clearly, we can see through reading the novel that the governess is making things worse because she is giving an excuse for miles to act the way he does and she can´t blame herself because the ghost did it and it isn't her fault this has been bugging me. she is exteraling her own issues not to face the reality that she is a bad caregiver and Miles isn't a good child
@stella I'm really glad I checked out these forum postings because I am having a hard time understanding the book. I procrastinated reading it but I am almost done now. I definitely agree that the governess being the narrator leads to a good amount of confusion just because her story telling is limited to her perspective. The biggest confusion for me has been the altering of her views on the children and my perception of them. Recently in class Mr. Chisnell brought up that idea and how our views on the kids may differ. We're introduced to Miles as being a very bad kid and super troubled. There was a line in regards to him not being allowed at a particular school for that reason. I now realize that it is important to especially recognize and acknowledge the view point of the governess to not be as significant because we only read her viewpoint.
@gardella, how to view the children has also been confusing for me. I never saw the children as bad or suspicious, and after completing the book, I still don't see them that way. I think the governess, before she even met Miles, wanted him to be a bad kid. So she over-analyzed everything that he did so that it would match with her pre-determined conceptions of him.
@stella I never really took into account the fact that the governess probably had biases against Miles, and I think that after you brought that up a lot of the governess's attitude towards Miles makes a lot more sense. However I also think that the governess was so caught up in trying to protect the kids that she started to imagine conspiracies and danger in places where none existed, so I think the governess became irrationally suspicious towards the kids for much of the book.
@jacksonvon I agree with you. And I am also amazed at the way she illustrates these paranormal phenomena. When I was reading this book, I thought that the ghosts where quite real. But the way uses the ghosts and blames them on her failures at the mansion is a little excessive and convenient.
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