The governess in Henry James’ Turn of the Screw is a character I am not too fond of. I think that she definitely over-steps her boundaries as a professional by being touchy with the children. She embraces them tightly, kisses them, and even has these spasms in which she hurts them (the incident with Flora). Her concerns are far beyond the classroom. She is constantly thinking the children are angels, but then fears that they are being mischievous. This back and forth between perspectives make her all the more confusing. The governess wants to constantly protect them and voice that she is doing everything for the good of Flora and Miles, yet is not even capable of doing so because she is caught up in her own mind.
I think that the governess is trying to take on a motherly role to the children, rather than being their teacher. Since she is concerned about how she is perceived by her employer, their uncle, she finds it her duty to care for them like her own. The governess doesn’t want to be seen as lonesome or uncaring, so she pushes herself onto the children, smothering them. She forgets that she has the authority to correct the children as well. The governess doesn’t seem to be a good disciplinary figure. I remember my teachers being strict and making sure I knew how to do my assignments correctly. They weren’t mean, but they definitely weren’t soft. The governess doesn’t have that trait. She lacks in showing the children wrong from right, and instead lets their mischievous acts go. That would definitely not fly well with my teachers!
Even if I don’t think the governess is completely evil, she does have some darkness in her. When I think of an mean, dangerous, and evil teacher Dolores Umbridge comes to mind. She is crazy! I can see her and the governess share the trait of paranoia. Umbridge wants things her way because she feels like Hogwarts is not the place it should be. Her strict ways are smothering and definitely wrong. Umbridge, like the governess snaps and underestimates the endurance of her students.