What do you think life was like for upper-class people in England in the second half of the 19 th century?
What is a governess?
Do you believe in ghosts? Why / Why not?
What is a boarding school? Would you like to go to a boarding school? Explain your reasons.
They lived in big, beautiful houses; they had many servants; children were often taught at home; only boys were sent to school.)
A woman who is hired to educate children in their home.
( Yes: I believe in ghosts, because that explains where we ‘go’ after we die; many people claim to have seen ghosts, so they must exist. No: I don’t believe in what
I can’t see or prove.)
A school where the students live during the school term.
Yes: It could be fun living with my friends from school; my parents can’t tell me what to do. No: I would miss my family; I might not like the food there; I wouldn’t have my own room; I might have to follow a lot of rules and be punished
LIST OF MAIN CHARACTERS
Douglas: the narrator of the story.
Catherine Blake: governess to two children, Miles and Flora.
Miles: a 10-year-old orphan boy.
Flora: Miles’ 7-year-old sister.
Lord Henry: Miles and Flora’s uncle.
Mrs Grose: the housekeeper.
Miss Jessel’s ghost: the ghost of Miles and Flora’s previous governess.
Quint’s ghost: the ghost of Lord Henry’s previous assistant.
Douglas reads to his guests a strange ghost story that hasn’t been heard before. He tells them that the story was written by his sister’s governess 20 years before, and that it is a true story.
Before reading, Douglas gives them some background information:
Lord Henry’s niece, Flora, and nephew, Miles, had become orphaned after their parents’ tragic death.
Lord Henry lived in London and didn’t have time to look after the children, so he sent them to his country mansion, Bly, and hired Catherine to take care of them.
He made it clear to her that he didn’t want to be worried by any problems or questions about the children
Catherine is charmed by Flora’s beauty and sweet nature. Mrs Grose tells Catherine that Miles is as sweet and good as his sister and Catherine can’t wait to meet him when he gets back from the boarding school.
But the next day, Catherine receives a letter from Lord Henry. Inside it is a letter from Miles’ headmaster saying that Miles is expelled from school and must not return after the holidays.
When Catherine meets him, she can’t understand how such an angelic boy could have been expelled.
Soon, weird things start to happen. Catherine sees a strange man appearing around the house, and then disappearing into nowhere.
Sometimes she sees a strange woman, too
Catherine talks about the two strangers to Mrs Grose and discovers that they’re the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Quint.
Mrs Grose is terrified when she hears about the ghosts’ frequent visits. She tells Catherine that they’re evil and that she fears for the children’s safety.
When she tries to talk to the children about it, they pretend that they don’t know what she’s talking about.
But Catherine knows they’re hiding something from her. She also realises that they like the ghostly visitors and aren’t aware of their evil powers.
Catherine tries to protect Flora and Miles but they don’t co-operate.
Sometimes they talk as though they aren’t themselves, as though a ghost is talking through them.
She writes a letter to Lord Henry, asking for his help. But later, she discovers that Miles stole the letter in a desperate attempt to stay at Bly, with the ghosts.
She believes that once they stop protecting the ghosts, the children will be free of them forever.
First, she tries to get Flora to confess, but only succeeds in making the little girl hate her.
Then, she tries to get Miles to talk about Quint. Miles confesses everything and even says Quint’s name.
At first Catherine is overjoyed and holds Miles to her, thinking that he’s now free.
But after a few seconds, she realises that the boy in her arms is dead.
Suddenly, she understands that Miles couldn’t live without Quint – he preferred to be dead – and that she, Catherine, had killed him.
Do you think Lord Henry took good enough care of Flora and Miles? Explain your answer.
Imagine that Catherine had decided not to fight the ghosts. How do you think this would have changed the story?
What kind of person is Catherine Blake? Which aspects of her personality make her a good governess? Has she got any negative characteristics?
Explain the relationship between Quint and Miss Jessel. How were their lives and deaths connected?
Describe the relationship between Catherine and Flora. How does it change during the story?
3.Catherine Blake is a very loving person. She’s got a good imagination and children like her. She’s curious, strong and brave. She’s not afraid to fight and refuses to be defeated. She’s a good governess because she loves the children, protects them and feels responsible for them.
4.Quint and Miss Jessel used to work at Bly. Quint was Lord Henry’s assistant and Miss Jessel was Miles and Flora’s governess. Miss Jessel was in love with Quint but he didn’t really love her. Miss Jessel didn’t see this – she was blinded by her feelings. Quint laughed at her and finally ended their relationship. Miss Jessel was very sad but he didn’t care. Then one day, Quint got drunk,he fell on his way home and hit his head on the ground. He was found dead on the road. After that, Miss Jessel was so unhappy that she died.
5. Catherine thinks Flora is sweet and angelic, and immediately likes her. At first Flora is shy, but she soon feels more confident with Catherine and becomes loving towards her. But when Catherine discovers Flora’s secret friendship with the ghosts, she and Flora become less close. Catherine tries to get Flora to confess, but Flora pretends that the ghosts don’t exist. In the end, when Flora pretends she can’t see Miss Jessel at the lake, Catherine doesn’t believe her. This makes Flora very angry and it’s the end of their friendship. Flora starts to hate Catherine. She doesn’t want to be near her or sleep in the same room as her any more.