This challenges the human psyche and we question and fear, how easily manipulated our emotions are. In both the texts, the supernatural element arises through apparitions, which also raises questions about the condition of the human mind. However, the supernatural element extends further than just questioning our susceptibility. Both texts contain this Gothic element to challenge religious beliefs. In James’ novella, the Governess never makes it to church, as she is “not fit for church” and this is juxtaposed to the supernatural apparitions.
This shows the challenging of religious morals, as modernism questions Christian faith, showing insecurities of the society. Similarly, Amenabar deploys the supernatural element in his film to challenge religion, though with greater severity. The voiceover of Grace in the introduction of the film shows her as a devout Christian, but this is juxtaposed with her sceptical children who oppose her and “don’t believe God made the world in seven days”. The revelation of spectres also influences us, when we see Grace punishing her children for “lying” about the noises in the house.
We are made to feel ignorant. We also see that Grace is “keeping them in the dark” by suffocating them with religion. This challenges religion, but is questioning whether children are victimised by the adult world. The spectres haunt Grace, who only feels that “there is something” in her house, but does not see the spectres. It is very typically represented by Grace as something that is, “diabolical” and not “human” because “it says so in the Bible” which is her “answer to everything”.
This attacks Christianity by showing no sign between healthy faith and unhealthy legalism. Grace becomes more and more paralysed by fear of things her “rule book” does not explain. We are forced to question religion what is moral and immoral, and, good and evil. We question the law of what is right and wrong and then we fear our society in the past. We also fear the present, knowing that we are becoming more and more legalised with more rules, legal institutions and contracts. Furthermore, in both the texts we notice it is a woman who is driven “mad” by these spectres.
This Gothic convention of a woman in distress is quintessential as it communicates the attitudes towards women. Amenabar’s film, teaches us of how men felt that a woman was weak and incapable of being “a mother” during the post World War 2 period, where women were unable to take care of the children and themselves. James’ novella, teaches us of the discriminating attitudes towards women during his period of writing, known as the Gothic era, which was a patriarchal age. It is an eye-opener to the exploitation of women.
It also reveals men’s misogyny and male hegemony through the disempowerment of women. My study of the Gothic genre has been intriguing and insightful. From the comparative study of the film, “The Others” and the novella, “The Turn of the Screw” I have learned of the significant purpose and value of Gothic fiction. It is a magnificent genre allowing the representation of the hidden darkness of the world. The study has been a wonderful experience and with this I strongly advocate the study of Gothic literature in schools.