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The Turn of the Screw and Twilight Essay Sample

The Turn of the Screw and Twilight Pages
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“Texts on their own are interesting, but when compared to other texts they become illuminating” Discuss in relation to ‘Twilight’ and ‘The Turn of the Screw’

Texts on their own are thought-provoking, motivating, fascinating and stimulating. With a background context, audiences may learn about the values of the time. Although when studying more than one text, if the contexts are understood, the two texts can be analysed, interpreted, compared, contrasted, it becomes informative and audiences may learn more about the values held in the texts. The texts are illuminating when compared to each other because we are able to see what values are being challenged through the gothic genre in regard to the context. Values including sexuality, forbidden relationships and the role of women are represented and explored in both Henry James’s gothic novel The Turn of The Screw, composed in the Victorian era and Catherine Hardwicke’s 21st century gothic film, Twilight. Sexuality is explored in both Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight. Through studying Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, it is evident in the England 19th century sexuality was a taboo and was expected to be conservative. Although in the gothic novel sexuality is not spoken of directly, there are connotations of sexuality throughout the text.

The governess is sexually frustrated and repressed, she is not given her desires so is preoccupied by the ghosts, “he is handsome…remarkably”. As James had a strong background in Freud’s theory, his father being a keen reader of Sigmund Freud’s work, his brother a Freudian psychologist and philosopher, the likely reason why the governess really sees the ghosts is a result of her sexual repression, the Freudian theory being “when the pleasure principle cannot express itself, it must bury (repress) or transfer (sublimate) its desire”. Whereas in 21st century postmodern society active sexuality is acceptable, it is openly discussed and advertised in many places. In Catherine Hardwicke’s gothic film Twilight set in the 21st century, sexuality is openly discussed although the protagonists Bella and Edward represent abstinence and. Hardwicke has done this to challenge the idea of active sexuality. The phone scene represents Bella’s mother as society’s assumptions to be sexually active when she says to Bella “we’ve got to talk boys, are you being safe?”

Although in the bedroom scene when Bella and Edward start getting intimate and pursuing each other Edward says “stop…I can never lose control with you” and instead they lay on the bed talking, this challenged the need for young people to be sexually active. Both texts represent challenging social norms about sexuality, in The Turn of the Screw society believed in the values of chastity and being conservative although the protagonist, the governess wanted to be sexually active but became repressed whereas in Twilight society was accepting of active sexuality although the protagonists held the values of chastity and abstinence. These texts juxtapose the protagonist’s values and society’s values; through juxtaposing attitudes towards sexuality in both texts it becomes informative. The value of engaging in forbidden relationships is explored in both Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight. In The Turn of The Screw the idea of breaking inter-class barriers in relationships is explored.

In Victorian England in the late 19th century almost all people married within the same class, there were many double standards; marrying someone of a different class was frowned upon and classes were based on family name and blood. In Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw the governess is intrigued by the class difference between Miss Jessel and Peter quint who were together, “she was a lady…and he so dreadfully below”. Similarly the governess and the master are of different classes, the love is unrequited and unquestionably forbidden. In Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight the idea of breaking inter-species barriers is explored. In 21st century America, this is something unheard of and most definitely frowned upon. In Twilight the relationship between Bella and Edward, a vampire of different species is very much not supported and forbidden, Bella’s friends says “You with Edward now…I don’t like it…he looks at you as if you’re something to eat”. Both texts represent the value of breaking social barriers, which is breaking inter-class and interspecies barriers and pursuing forbidden relationships despite the fact they are in different contexts.

Through juxtaposing the value of breaking social barriers in both texts it becomes informative. The role and representation of women is explored in both Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight. In The Turn of the Screw the ‘heroine’ being the governess is represented as being determined, confident, sensitive, obsessive, reckless and impulsive. She is represented as being in need of a male and vulnerable. In the Victorian era, society held the value of males being superior to females, females where inferior and vulnerable to males. Society suppressed this and females conformed to the unfortunate fact that males were superior. These values are conveyed in The Turn of the Screw, “her youth and beauty helped her…he and pretty…it was the way he liked everyone”, this represents the gothic element of gothic texts where ‘women are threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male’ and the inferiority and vulnerability of females to males. Opposing this, in 21st century post-modern society, the attitude is very much towards gender equality, many women became feminists without even realising, since the Victorian era there has become almost completely gender equality, women are seen as neither inferior nor superior to males.

In Twilight the heroine Bella supports gender equality, “you’re a strong independent woman” this is ironic as Bella is dependent on her lover Edward. Bella is living in a society where gender equality is supported although she chooses to be vulnerable and reliant on Edward. This can be seen when Edward is represented as the ‘predator’ and Bella juxtaposed as the ‘prey’, “and so the lion fell in love with the lamb”, this juxtaposition between Bella and Edward represents the superiority of Edward and the inferiority of Bella. Bella is conveyed as vulnerable and inferior to Edward, this is seen when Edward says “I’m designed to kill…I want to kill you…I’ve never wanted a human’s blood so much” this represents the gothic element of gothic texts where ‘women are threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male’.

Both values and contexts juxtapose each other once again, in The Turn of the Screw society was not gender equal although the governess was questioning why whereas post-modern society was supporting of gender equality although in twilight the female protagonist was very vulnerable and dependent on the male protagonist. Through juxtaposing the value of roles and representation of women in both texts it becomes informative. Through studying Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight we are able to study the values of sexuality, forbidden relationships and the role of women represented in both texts. Through analysing, comparing and contrasting the values held in both texts in relation to the context is it is informative and very illuminating.

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