The governess notices that her relationship with Miles and Flora is even closer and more affectionate than ever. She tries to convince herself that this is a result of their mutual fondness for each other, but she cannot help feeling that maybe they are trying to hide something from her. One night, she goes out of the room she shares with Flora and meets Quint on the staircase. Neither one says a word, but the governess is convinced that he is “a living, detestable, dangerous presence.” After a prolonged moment, Quint turns around, descends the staircase, and disappears.
When the governess returns to her room, Flora is missing. She finds the child hidden by the drapes and Flora explains that she was looking out the window for the governess. Flora says she was no one outside, but the governess does not believe her.
Some evenings later, the governess sees an apparition of Miss Jessel sitting on one of the lower steps of the staircase. In an instant, however, the vision vanishes.
Several nights later, Flora disappears from her bed again. She is again looking out the window. The governess goes to the window of a lower room to see what it is that Flora sees out the window. There, in the garden, is Miles, looking up at something in a higher room.
Chapters 9-10, Analysis
The governess is terrified, but she also seems to be enjoying the mystery a little. She is very proud of herself for facing down Quint and having the courage to walk by him. She talks about the “thrill” of gaining an advantage over an opponent, but the question remains just exactly who her opponent is. She seems to want to catch Flora misbehaving because it is thrilling to think of this beautiful child being evil.
When the governess toys with the idea of going into Miless room at night, it is ostensibly because she wishes to see if he is there. She stands outside his door and listens, then turns away in case he might be innocent. As he is an older child and male, there is a sexual component to her considering entering his room late at night. This leads to the supposition that she might be substituting the thrill of “ghosts” for unfulfilled sexual desire. She could just be a very repressed woman who looks for excitement and conquest wherever she can find them, which is mostly in her imagination in a house with two small children. She could also be a vigilant governess that wants to protect her charges; that Miles is out of his room at night is a serious warning that he is not as angelic as he seems.