Little Ones are the Scariest

Miles and Flora in Henry James’ Turn of The Screw are the oddest little children I’ve read about. They are perceived as very innocent, yet hold some dark secrets we as a reader have to figure out. I feel like James’ use of the ghosts seem to challenge the children’s innocence. The governess is paranoid about Flora and Miles’ relationship with the ghosts, and I feel like she has a reason for it. The ghosts can be a symbol of corruption. That the unseen is something we should fear and the fact that it’s seeping into the children’s lives shows how they are affected by these truths.

I do feel like the children are playing tricks on the governess. They are too sneaky and pretty well versed in their scenes with her. Miles and Flora definitely know that their governess loves them and in turn, abuse it. So, they play along with that image but still have mischievous thoughts. I think the most evident sections that show their mischievous acts are when they don’t talk. That small break of silence or just their body image, tells that they are thinking of something. Wether to play a trick or to just stir up some trouble outside the home.

If there’s one thing I absolutely dread whenever I do stumble on a horror film, is the children. They are always seen as either the victim or the evil. One example that I thought of in regards to corrupted children in horror, was Esther from the film The Orphan. She is seen as this loving child who is full of innocence, yet when no one is looking, she causes trouble. Really, really, BAD kind of trouble.

This play on innocence and contradicting it to what we associate with children, allows horror to heighten the emotion. I believe that the use of children in suspense films are to allude to the fact that evil is found even in the most innocent of creatures. We never question a child’s actions because we just write it of as, “Well, that’s what children do… they play around. But it’s all fun and games. They’re harmless.” Though when you watch this movie or read James’ story, you must question that ideal.


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