The Haunting of Hill House Essay - Critical Essays

Shirley Jackson

Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy The Haunting of Hill House Analysis

Shirley Jacksons work consistently reveals the strange and disturbing undercurrents that lurk beneath the mundane and the commonplace. The Haunting of Hill House concerns itself with the evil energies held within a number of structures, not only the upright walls of Hill House but also the social structure of the family and the fragile constructs that make up an individuals identity.

An acrimonious sense of social and family relationships permeates the novel. Eleanors forced servitude to her controlling mother, her intense dislike of the sister with whom she now lives, and her own utter friendlessness mirror the stark history of the equally isolated Hill House, which was home to a morbid, oppressive patriarch, feuding sisters, and a suicidal companion, as well as other horrors. Montagues team becomes a de facto family, and Eleanor’s relationship with Theodora, her “cousin,” is replete with love, envy, and resentment. The house manifests physical evidence of Eleanor’s complex array of affection and anger by splattering Theodora’s room and belongings with blood, forcing the latter to share Eleanor’s room and clothes. This sisterly proximity contrasts with Eleanor’s emotional withdrawal from the others. She repeatedly is torn between her desire for connection with other people and for a normal life, on one hand, and the paranoia and suspicions that mark her desire for a life with those forces that reside in Hill House.


(The entire section is 442 words.)