Summary of Section V
The governess describes the man she saw looking in the window to Mrs. Grose. She says he was not a gentleman, and she has seen him twice. She calls him a horror and does not want to leave the children to go to church. The man has no hat and red hair, athletic, handsome, not a gentleman but dressed in someone else's clothes. Mrs. Grose says they are the master's clothes, and it must be Quint, his valet, who sometimes wore the master's clothes. He was at Bly last year with the master, and when he left, Quint stayed and was in charge. Finally, Mrs. Grose admits that Quint is dead.
Commentary on Section V
Each section is like the beat of a line of poetry, giving turns to the feelings of the characters, and to the reader. James always ends a section on a note of suspense or horror. In this way, each section is another “turn of the screw.” The original story was published in weekly installments in Collier's Weekly Magazine in 1898, and so James always leaves the reader wanting more.
This episode represents the best case on the side of the governess that she has seen ghosts, for she describes Quint to Mrs. Grose in detail without knowing he is dead, and Mrs. Grose is able to identify him. Other incidents are more circumstantial and vague. We find out that Quint is like his master, handsome, a lady's man, and charming. He even wears his employer's clothes and no doubt likes to pretend he is the master of the house. He is terrifying to the governess for she perceives not only his ghost presence, but what he must have been like as a man. He was left in charge of the children, governess, and servants after the master left.