M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of English
Hawthorne; Nathaniel; 1804-1864. Scarlet letter; James; Henry; 1843-1916. Turn of the screw
Although the differences between Scarlet Letter and The Turn of the Screw are so strong that they make the two works quite dissimilar, there are many comparisons to be drawn between then that lead to the conclusion that Hawthorne’s novel had a direct influence on Henry Jones' book. This influence may have affected James either consciously or unconsciously. It is not the purpose of this paper to decide that point. Rather, the attempt here is to set forth a theory based on the following line of thinking; James read The Scarlet Letter. He was so strongly influenced by the novel that he retained much of the impression that it made on him, that impression helped form the background that he utilized in writing The Turn of the Screw. The first evidence of such a theory was noted by this writer when he observed an underlying similarity between the prodigious child characters in the two works. Little Pearl, though different from Miles and Flora in disposition and countenance, has much in common with them. A closer study of the two novels shows even more similarities which help lead one to the conclusion that The Scarlet Letter was an influence on The Turn of the Screw. No one comparison is strong enough by itself to justify the notion that Hawthorne did influence James, But in quantity, the similarities are such that they make it much more valid. There are similarities which would indicate that the Governess, the Uncle on Harley street, Miles, Flora, Peter Quint, and Miss Jessel all have something in common with at least one of the characters in The Scarlet Letter. The relationships between characters and certain situations found in James' novel are quite like several in Hawthorne's book.
Hasemann, Elwood H., "The influence of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw" (1954). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 5928.
Northern Illinois University
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