Is the Governess Mad? Or Is Everyone Else?

College English


The selfishness of the governess caused her to go mad and experience frequent ghost sightings. Her delusions were caused by sexuality, suppression, and insanity. Each mirage caused the governess to envision spirits and stifle the children. As a result of her troubles, the rest of the household suffered.

The governess suffered from sexual hysteria, which was not uncommon for young, attractive females in the Victorian age. Those in that age were fascinated by sexuality, but never dared to mention it forthright, rather flirted with the line as much as possible without ever crossing it. From the first time the governess met the Uncle; she was immediately attracted and described him as "handsome, bold, and pleasant" (7). When the ghost sightings become recurrent, Mrs. Grose suggests that the Uncle should be notified. The governess would have no part of doing so for fear of disturbing him. He had previously ordered that the governess not update or ask anything of him. Even the pressure from the Miles and Flora and their desire to see the Uncle cannot sway her. The governess hoped to win his respect and love by not troubling him. Her passion for the Uncle can also be seen through Peter Quint. In reality, she did not see his face at all. Quint\'s physical description resembled that of a sexual predator. Red hair was a symbol of Satan, and the governess spoke of him wearing the Uncle\'s clothes. This is more evidence that the governess often fantasized over her master. Since sexuality was never openly spoken in the Victorian age, the governess cannot express her infatuation with the Uncle, so she creates a ghost in the disguise of Peter Quint to satisfy her fantasy. The frustrations dealing with sexuality and the fact that she can only fantasize over the Uncle played a determining role in her madness.