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Chapters 7, 8, and 9


She rushes to find Mrs. Grose after this and tells her that the children know about the apparitions, and they also know that the governess sees them. Mrs. Grose asks if Flora told the governess. She replies that no, that's the worst of it, she kept it to herself, but was perfectly aware of the watcher. The governess describes the new figure she has seen as a woman in black, pale and dreadful. The governess is sure it's her predecessor-Miss Jessel. The governess is convinced that Flora will lie about it if asked. She also says that Miss Jessel appeared to fix her eyes on Flora with a terrible intention, as if she wished to get hold of her somehow. She thinks Flora knows this too. Mrs. Grose asks the governess to repeat the description, which resembles Miss Jessel, and then she tells the governess that Miss Jessel and Quint were infamous. Mrs. Grose still says she doesn't know how Miss Jessel died, but hints that she was pregnant and says that she didn't want to know, as it must have been dreadful. The governess bursts into tears, and as Mrs. Grose embraces and comforts her, she cries: "I don't save or shield them! It's far worse than I dreamed-they're already lost!"


Mrs. Grose and the governess again confabulate late at night in her room, and the governess asserts that Mrs. Grose agrees that she's seen what she's seen. The governess still finds renewed pleasure in the company of the children, particularly when Flora innocently accuses the governess of having cried. The governess finds it hard when she is showering them with kisses or pressing their faces to hers, but knows she must now observe the children carefully. She thinks Flora purposefully diverts her attention by an increase of movement in her play to make her think that she doesn't see the apparitions when they appear.

The governess has another talk with Mrs. Grose, where she asks very seriously if she has ever seen Miles act bad, in the way that got him dismissed from school. Mrs. Grose explains that he used to spend all his time with Quint, and when she approached him about it he lied and called her a menial. The governess thinks this explanation-with the idea that Miss Jessel was constantly associating with Flora and Quint with Miles, in all their infamy-is just what she was expecting. She fears Miles is concealing a relationship with Quint from her now, and is ready to wait and observe.


She waits, and as the days elapse her consternation subsides. She wonders if her charges notice how closely they are under observation, and reasons that the more clouded their innocence is already, the more reason to fight to preserve it. The children are in this period "extravagantly and preternaturally fond" of the governess, hugging her often and telling her stories or reciting pieces. Miles' show of striking cleverness in understanding the little lessons she poses him lessens her concern about finding another school for him. The two children are extraordinarily good comrades despite the age and sex difference, and never quarrel. However, she wonders if at times one conspires to distract her in order to allow the other one to slip away.

One night the governess stays up late at night reading a novel by candlelight. Suddenly she senses that something is astir in the house. She gets up, then looking over at Flora's bed she locks the door and walks downstairs. Her candle suddenly goes out, but it's early morning and light enough that she doesn't really need it. She sees someone on the stair. It's Quint, who pauses and faces her, staring. She feels anguish but no terror, and stands her ground with a great rigor of courage even though their stare into each other's eyes seems to last forever. Finally Quint turns and vanishes as he descends the stairs.

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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