The Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

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Why did the author use the quote from Shakespeare, "Journeys end in lovers meeting," throughout The Haunting of Hill House so many times?

The repeated use of the quotation "Journeys end in lovers meeting" from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night communicates the novel's themes of seduction and predestination. Eleanor and Hill House are comparable to the lovers in the quotation, as they are destined to find each other and be together. Like a lover, the house slowly seduces Eleanor. Eleanor invokes the phrase several times throughout the novel to remind herself to follow through in her journey to unite with her "lover," Hill House.

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The quotation "Journeys end in lovers meeting" is a refrain repeated many times throughout Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. The quotation comes from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. In the play, a jester named Feste sings the line in a foreshadowing song about two twin siblings who are separated from one another due to a shipwreck and are ultimately reunited. Shakespeare compares the twins to lovers. Lovers are separate from one another and are destined to seek each other out. Their respective journeys to find each other will end when the lovers finally meet. Throughout The Haunting of Hill House, Eleanor frequently speaks (or in some cases, thinks) this line. Jackson's repeated use of the quotation is meant to illustrate the novel's themes of seduction and predestination.

The line first appears in the first chapter, as Eleanor is still traveling to Hill House. Upon arriving at her destination, she is struck by a feeling that the house "was waiting for her, evil, but patient," and she repeats the line twice more before entering the house. Although she is initially afraid of the house, she soon falls under its spell. Much like a lover, the house seduces Eleanor, slowly courting her throughout the novel. The first few times Eleanor speaks or thinks the quotation, she is doing so in an effort to comfort and console herself, as she is fearful of the house.

In the third chapter, Jackson writes,

Somewhere down there was her little car, which could take her away again. Journeys end in lovers meeting, she thought; it was my own choice to come. Then she realized that she was afraid.

Eleanor uses the line to talk herself into staying at the house despite her fear. As the novel progresses, we see that Eleanor's speaking of the line takes on a more endearing tone as the house succeeds in its goal of seducing her. Eleanor and Hill House are akin to the lovers in the quotation. They are separate before seeking each other out, as they are predestined to do. Their journeys will be complete once the house succeeds in overtaking Eleanor.

Eleanor's repetition of this phrase, which becomes a mantra of sorts, demonstrates that on some subconscious level, she is drawn to the house by destiny. The line first appears in the novel prior to Eleanor's arrival at Hill House because some part of her knows that she is destined to go there. The house is already exerting its influence over her and drawing her in before she even sets foot on its grounds. It is almost as if Hill House somehow instilled the phrase in Eleanor's head to remind her to follow through in her journey to find the house and be seduced by it. The repetition of the quote is a repeated reminder that Eleanor and Hill House are meant to find each other.

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