Thus, there are two struggles presented. Firstly, there is the very real internal struggle of the governess to suppress her own natural desire—a desire which cannot be fulfilled. Secondly, there is the questionable struggle between the world of the living and the dead. If you believe that the Governess isn’t imagining it, then you have a terrible ghost story of wicked spirits possessing children. If you doubt her, then you have a terrible psychological tale of a woman driven over the edge whose wild imagination endangers the lives of the children she was hired to protect. Either way, James succeeds at giving us an intense story filled with hidden meaning.
For the children's music, Britten drew words and melody from a number of traditional British nursery rhymes, including Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son and Lavender's Blue . Of particular note is Miles' song "Malo." The lyrics to this are a mnemonic for beginning Latin students. The word malo can be either a form of the adjective for "bad", or the first-person singular of the verb malle , "to prefer," which has an irregular conjugation and is a common stumbling block for students. Malo could also be a form of the scientific name for the apple species. The rhyme Miles sings helps students to keep in mind the three possible meanings for "malo" when encountered in a text for translation: adjective of wickedness, verb of preference, or apple tree ? The Latin words that are used in the lesson scene have been examined in more detail for their paedophilic innuendos.  The line "The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned" sung by Quint and Miss Jessel is taken from the poem The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats .
In The Turn of the Screw , events become fully real only when they have been written down. The governess at first refuses to record the circumstances at Bly in a letter to her employer. If she preserves the events in a material document, she will have reached a point of no return—she will be forever unable to deny what happened. She also has relied on threats and passionate speech to persuade Mrs. Grose of her visions and theories, and convincing someone through the written word will be much more difficult. Eventually, she does write the letter, and she also writes down the entire account in the manuscript that we are reading. The manuscript, unlike the letter, allows her to present events in a way that will persuade her readers she is both sane and telling the truth. In keeping with the ambiguity of the tale, the trajectories of both written records, the letter and the manuscript, are interrupted, which further impedes our ability to determine whether the events are or are not “real.” The letter is never sent, and the manuscript stops short of a definite conclusion. These interruptions suggest the story remains unresolved—and cast doubt on its reliability.