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Chapters 10, 11, and 12


The governess remains frozen until she is sure Quint is gone, then returns to her room. Flora's bed is empty. The white curtains have been deceivingly pulled forward. She is terrified but at just that moment notices an agitation in the window blind, and Flora emerges from the window to ask the governess where she's been. Flora explains that she noticed the governess' absence and jumped up to see if she was walking in the grounds. The governess is sure Flora is lying and wants to break the silence and force her to admit she sees the apparitions, but instead she asks Flora why she pulled the curtains to make it look like she was still in bed. Flora explains that she just didn't want to frighten the governess if she came back suddenly.

The governess is now much more watchful at night and once briefly surprises a bowed Miss Jessel on the stairs, but after eleven days have passed she begins to relax her guard. That night she goes to bed at her usual hour but wakes up suddenly and completely in the middle of the night. Flora had gotten up and squeezed behind the blind again, sitting on the casement and not noticing the noise the governess makes as she stands up and hastily gets into her slippers. Wanting to see the communication going on between Flora and the unknown other, she slips into another room with a window in the same direction. She senses another presence above her in the tower, but the figure on the lawn is little Miles.


The governess doesn't get a chance to talk to Mrs. Grose until the next day. She is greatly relieved that Mrs. Grose believes her, and notices that since the cildren never seem to look blighted or sad, Mrs. Grose has been concentrating most of her solicitude on the governess. She and Mrs. Grose watch the two children stroll on the lawn together with a storybook, and she recalls the scene when she brought Miles indoors the night before.

Not a sound passed between them as they walked to his bedroom, and she wonders if he was taxing his brain to come up with a plausible excuse. She feels Miles has her trapped, since it's not socially acceptable for a caretaker to introduce superstitious ideas to young children. She tenderly puts her hands on his shoulders and asks him what he was doing. Miles replies that he just wanted the governess to think him bad for a change-it was an experiment. He says he stayed up all night reading and made Flora to agree to get up and look out the window for him, so that the governess would notice. The whole explanation is delivered with charming innocence.


The governess now tells Mrs. Grose that both children perpetually meet the phantoms, and their unnatural beauty and goodness is just a policy and fraud on their part. She's they're not really good-just absent, lost in the world of the dead restored. She thinks Quint and Miss Jessel return to the children for the love of all the evil that they taught them while alive. She thinks the ghosts appear in high places or across bodies of water to tempt the children to come to them, and perish in the attempt. Mrs. Grose tells the governess she should write to the children's uncle and explain what is going on. The governess absolutely refuses, thinking he would either decide she was mad or that she was in love with him and had devised a stratagem to see him. She threatens to leave on the spot if Mrs. Grose informs him herself.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Framing Scene
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7, 8, and 9
Chapters 10, 11, and 12
Chapters 13, 14, and 15
Chapters 16, 17, and 18
Chapters 19, 20, and 21
Chapters 22, 23, and 24


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