The Turn of the Screw
Henry James

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Karim Chandra

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Overview
Author
Henry James
Year Published
1898
Type
Fiction
Genre
Classics
About the Title

In the first chapter of the story, Douglas uses the phrase turn of the screw to indicate that a ghost story has a more terrifying effect if a specter targets a child rather than an adult, as in a story just completed by a man named Griffin. Then Douglas asks his listeners what they would say of a ghost story with two children. One of them says such a story would cause two turns of the screw. Here is the passage: 

......."I quite agree—in regard to Griffin’s ghost, or whatever it was—that its appearing first to the little boy, at so tender an age, adds a particular touch. But it’s not the first occurrence of its charming kind that I know to have involved a child. If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, terror what do you say to TWO children—?" 

......."We say, of course," somebody exclaimed, "that they give two turns!

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