"everything but a sort of passion of tenderness for him was swept away by his presence"
Sigmund Freud
Public DomainSigmund Freud - Credit: Ferdinand Schmutzer

The governess's rather inappropriate rapture at Miles's sweetness and beauty smacks of what psychoanalytic literature terms 'displacement'. This concept derives predominantly from Freud, who wrote of it from the late 1880s onwards, but it has antecedants in earlier works — including, intriguingly, that of William James, Henry's brother, who is regarded as the American founding father of psychology. It describes an involuntary defence mechanism whereby inadmissable feelings are buried deep in the unconscious mind and redirected to a safe, neutral object. In this case, it seems the governess, aware that she is breaching the bounds of acceptability by harbouring a desire for her socially superior employer, diverts her adoration towards his nephew.