The Turn of the Screw: Novel Summary: Chapter 7 – 8

Chapter 7
The governess tells Mrs. Grose that she saw a woman across the lake, and she is sure that Flora saw the woman, as well. The horror of it, she claims, is that Flora completely pretended she did not see the woman. It is clear to the governess now that the woman is her predecessor, whose name was Miss Jessel. She describes the woman as pretty with dark, shabby clothing, and Mrs. Grose is convinced it is indeed Miss Jessel.
Mrs. Grose then reveals that Miss Jessel had a romantic relationship with Quint, and she implies that Miss Jessel was pregnant when she left. Upset by the entire situation, the governess bursts into tears. Mrs. Gross embraces her, but the governess fears that the children are lost.
Chapter 8
Late that night, Mrs. Grose and the governess talk again in the governesss room. Mrs. Grose acknowledges that the governess has indeed seen what she claims to have seen.
When the governess returns to the children, she realizes that she cannot attribute to them anything other than youthful innocence and beauty. She asks Mrs. Grose what she meant when she said that on occasion, Miles had been “bad.” Mrs. Grose replies that for a period of several months, Miles spent a good deal of time with Quint, which was inappropriate because he is of much higher station than Quint. Mrs. Grose defends Miles by pointing out that Miss Jessel did not object to his association with Quint.
The governess assures Mrs. Grose that she will not accuse anyone until she has further evidence. In truth, the governess is convinced that the children are aware of the ghosts and meet with them all the time. To her, that is actually the biggest problem, because it means that they are lying to her. If so, they are really quite evil, because they are so clever and never show a sign of seeing the ghosts.
Chapters 7-8, Analysis
The governesss description of the woman she saw is vague, yet she and Mrs. Grose agree it definitely was Miss Jessel. Mrs. Grose believes all of her friends assertions because the governess is so much more educated and higher class than she is. They may be friends, but it is an unequal friendship. They are both acutely aware of this, as one of their biggest objections to the affair between Quint and Miss Jessel is that she was much higher class than he.
The children have given no indication that they see the ghosts, which is precisely the governesss issue with them. She assumes the ghosts are real and the children are hiding their knowledge. Again, the reader can either accept that the ghosts exist and therefore accept the governesss assertion that the children are ensnared in their trap, or the reader can think that she is hysterical and is simply imagining the children are pretending they dont see the ghosts. After all, she is the one who says they show no sign of seeing the ghosts.