The Turn of the Screw: Novel Summary: Chapter 19 – 20

Chapter 19
The governess and Mrs. Grose go looking for Flora. The governess is convinced that the girl must have taken the boat across the pond, and they walk around to the other side of the pond, where they find the boat and shortly afterwards find Flora, also. Mrs. Grose embraces Flora in relief, after which Flora asks where Miles is. The governess replies that she will tell her if Flora tells the governess where Miss Jessel is.
Chapter 20
Flora is horrified. Then, the governess sees Miss Jessel, standing on the opposite bank of the pond. However, Mrs. Grose does not see her and Flora also claims she does not see her. The child wants to be taken away from her governess, and Mrs. Grose does just that.
The governess remains a while by the water. When she returns to the house, she finds that Floras bed and her belongings have been moved to Mrs. Groses room. Miles now has the freedom to do what he wishes, but he chooses to come and sit with his governess after tea.
Chapters 19-20, Analysis
All but the most stubborn of readers probably will now think that the ghosts are not real.The governess has invented them out of her own hysterical need for power, attention, or sexual fulfillment. She is, after all, caught between classes. She is not as high class as the children nor as low class as Mrs. Grose, so there is a certain anxiety about her own place in the hierarchy. In addition, she had some sort of sexual encounter with the master, quite possibly all in her own head, that stripped her of any power. She only had the power to say “yes” to the job and now she has no contact with him. If she is sexually repressed, the ghosts would certainly be a manifestation of her unfulfilled needs. Finally, a young woman in that time, regardless of class, was relatively powerless, and inventing the ghosts gives her a tremendous amount of power. If the children are evil or under the influence of evil, she gains a great deal of stature because she needs to protect them.
This is not to say that she lies. The governess clearly believes all she is saying. For some time, it is quite convincing. In these final chapters, however, it seems more and more clear that she is definitely obsessive and probably hysterical. Mrs. Grose does not see the ghost, so there is no corroboration. Since there has been absolutely no evidence of their existence up until this time, it becomes even harder to believe they could be real.