The Turn of the Screw: Novel Summary: Chapter 3 – 4

Chapter 3
The governess decides that the charges against Miles must be absurd because the child is clearly so innocent. He seems too fresh and sweet to have been reprimanded as a naughty child would be. She decides not to say anything to him or to the master, and Mrs. Grose agrees with her.
While the governess is out for a walk one afternoon, she sees a man up on one of the houses two towers. Since she had just been fantasizing about the master coming to the house, she at first thinks it might be he. However, she realizes it is someone else. She is shocked to see a man she does not know in the house. When she returns, no one demonstrates any evidence of knowing about a strange man in the house, so she keeps it a secret.
Chapter 4
Because of her strange experience, the governess wonders if there is a secret at Bly, perhaps an insane relative kept in confinement there. For several days, she ponders the matter.
A few days later, she goes into the dining room to fetch her gloves. When she goes in, she sees the same man looking at her from outside the windows. She is shocked. When she goes out to look for him, she is gone. She goes and stands where he had been at the window and sees Mrs. Grose coming into the room. Mrs. Grose is as frightened as the governess was when she saw the strange man at the window.
Chapters 3-4, Analysis
Other than a little dialogue about Miless dismissal, these two chapters are completely made up of the governesss thoughts. She imagines seeing the master, she sees a strange man and determines that there is a mystery about him, she thinks about how wonderful the children are and how innocent they must be, she sees the man again, she thinks she must go and stand where he stood, and she wonders why Mrs. Grose is so frightened. The effect of this restriction to her internal thoughts is twofold. On the one hand, there is a sense of mystery. It all seems so terrifying and there is clearly something wrong. On the other hand, there is doubt. There is no confirmation that any of this is happening outside of the governesss mind.
The doubt about the veracity of all the events partly stems from the fact that she has shown a clear propensity for fantasy. She fantasizes about the master, imagines what the house will be like, and assumes she can see peoples character just by looking at them. In fact, she decides Miles was wrongly accused because “If he had been wicked he would have caught it, and I should have caught it by the rebound-I should have found the trace, should have felt the wound and the dishonour. I could reconstitute nothing at all, and he was therefore an angel” (27). This is the kind of evidence upon which she bases her conclusions, so her judgment is somewhat suspect. On the other hand, it does all seem rather spooky.