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Turning the Screw for What? A Feminist Will to Power and Knowing

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Title
Turning the Screw for What? A Feminist Will to Power and Knowing
Author
Kim, Changhee
Keywords
Henry James; The Turn of the Screw; Feminist Subjectivity; Authorial Sovereignty; The Desiring Subject
Issue Date
201108
Publisher
19세기 영어권 문학회
Citation
19세기 영어권 문학 , v.15, no.2, pp.223 - 252
Abstract
My critical approach to The Turn of ABEL class=bgy>the Screw is focused on the ideological power struggle between the governess’ authorial sovereignty in her epistolary text and the exterior context that frames it in the gender politics of Victorian Britain. Through the articulation of her colonial desire at the house of Bly, she challenges the patriarchal authority of the invisible yet hegemonic master. Her storytelling allows her to become a desiring subject that attempts to rid herself of her own otherness as a sheer embodiment of feminist subjectivity at its purist level. Within the enclosed space of her epistolary text, she aims to build her oppositional subjectivity as a pure incarnation of the antithetical self that contradicts and corrupts Victorian Britain at the turn of the century. The paradoxical dimension of thinking, which is, not only self-critical but also dogmatic, helps explain the primary cause of the governess’ insanity in the novella. Her desire to know ‘something’ about the children and the ghosts, driven by her will to attain colonial power over Bly, ends up not only delirious but also despotic. In attempts to remove the ontological, as well as sovereign, otherness of uncertainty and unknowability, she not so much protects as oppresses the children. Her desire for knowing is essentially akin to her will to power to establish authorial sovereignty in place of the master, but it ends in failure. Eventually, her delirious obsession with power and knowing leads her to what Theodor Adorno calls the “death of spirit.
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ISSN
1598-3269
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