She is in the stereotypical subservient housemaid role, and she does not divulge her sexual identity either.
Sexual knowledge is also intimately equated with death in Turn of the Screw. The title suggests at once the screws in a coffin but also the sexual act. The governess sees ghosts instead of fulfilling her desire to have sex with the father of the children she hawks over. While the governess seems assertive at times, brave enough to look into the eyes of a stranger and a ghost, she is also too timid to directly confront the father of the children. His request that she never contact him seems ridiculous, given Flora and Miles are his children.
The fact that the governess obeys the orders at all shows that she lacks the internal conviction and self-confidence to assert herself. Feminist theories of identity formation therefore lend a considerable amount of insight into Henry Jamess Turn of the Screw. Works Cited James, Henry. Turn of the Screw. Biblios. 2010. Norton, R. (1999). “Henry Jamess the Turn of the Screw,” Gay History and Literature, 1971, 1999, updated 20 June 2008