Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Monika Elbert

Committee Member

Alyce Miller

Committee Member

Jonathan Greenberg


Edith Wharton (1862-1937)--Criticism and interpretation, Henry James (1843-1916)--Criticism and interpretation, Master and servant in literature, Henry James (1843-1916)--Turn of the screw


The aim of this thesis is to investigate the relationship between the master and the servant in Edith Wharton’s ghost stories and Henry James’s The Turn o f the Screw. I have used the theory of Michel Foucault’s Panopticon to investigate how the idea of being watched and observed can influence the behavior of both the master and servant and how this impacts their relationships. In Wharton’s ghost stories, I argue that she is opening a discussion on the ruling class versus the serving class and how societal pressures influence and often control these relationships, or, in many cases, imagined relationships. I am not arguing that Wharton is taking sides with either the serving class or ruling class. Instead, her stories are reflective of the cultural shift occurring in the economic classes and her own person experiences as being a wealthy member of society. Similarly, Henry James uses the servants in his story, The Turn of the Screw, to provide commentary on the servant master relationship as well as the search for personal identity in the serving class during this time of cultural shift. His heavily the serving class and how they are affected by being watched. Through watching, he is able to showcase how behavior and personal identity can be manipulated in the serving and ruling classes.

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