The Turn of the Screw: A Semiotic Reading

Sigrid Renaux

The Turn of the Screw: A Semiotic Reading
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The Turn of the Screw: A Semiotic Reading

Sigrid Renaux

One of the greatest critical challenges of the 20th century, from its publication in 1898 up to our own time, The Turn of the Screw continues to fascinate readers and scholars alike, by its seemingly inexhaustible semantic richness. This study presents a re-evaluation of the ambiguities and doubts which permeate Henry James’s tale, through a process of semiotic transcodification. By way of C.S. Peirce’s and D. Pignatari’s theories of the sign, it captures and interprets the iconic-symbolic elements interwoven in the narrative, thus offering astonishing new insights into the question of the reality / unreality of the apparitions, the coexistence or not of good and evil in the children, and the credibility of the governess / narrator, among other aspects. By integrating all of them into a semantic structure, it demonstrates how the interpretation of the tale gyrates around the fusion of contradictions, as the turn of the screw synthetizes universal duality / complementarity.

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