The Turn of the Screw: Novel Summary: Chapter 11 – 12

Chapter 11

The governess shares with Mrs. Grose what happened after she went outside to get Miles. She took him back to his room and asked him why he had sneaked out in the night. He was pleased with himself. He claimed he did it just to show the governess that he could be bad. He had set things up so that Flora would disturb the governess by looking out of the window, and the governess would then also look out and see Miles.
Chapter 12
The governess explains to Mrs. Grose her conclusions about the children. She thinks the children meet regularly with Quint and Miss Jessel, even though they have never mentioned them. The governess has reached the conclusion that the children belong to the ghosts who in life put evil into the children. The ghosts are now trying to destroy them.
Mrs. Grose suggests that she write to her employer and get him to take the children away. But the governess realizes she cannot do this without seeming like a typical hysterical governess, when her job is really to keep superstition and instability away from the children. Nor can she call for the master without seeming to be plotting to get him to come to Bly by making up stories. She tells Mrs. Grose that she is not to try to get the master to come to Bly to help.
Chapters 11-12, Analysis
The scene between Miles and the governess in his bedroom continues the hint of sexuality contained in the last chapters. He tells her that he wants her to think him bad, and then they give each other a kiss. In fact, there are several mentions of an embrace. He has set a trap to catch her and make her think he is bad, and she is so obsessed with him and the possibility of his evil that she is ensnared.
Her dismay is that she realizes the children do not belong to her. “Theyre his and theyre hers!” (64) she concludes, and this is a problem because she wants to possess them completely. All her early descriptions of their beauty have turned into descriptions of the evil that the beauty hides. Her possessiveness, her desire to detect some badness, and her fascination with their beauty all sound more like the relationship with a spurned lover than with two children.