Kwame Clarke ENG3407 Fall 2020
The Haunting of Hill House
In the Story “The Haunting of Hill house” we follow Doctor John Montague and a group of other carefully selected individuals as they spend a part of the summer at a Hillside Manor that is infamous for being incredibly haunted.As we go through the accounts of everyone staying in this house this story reveals that it embodies many of the gothic elements that we have gone over this semester.In my personal opinion to me some of the most noteworthy of these elements had to be Anthony Vidler’s idea of architectural uncanny and Todorov’s concept of Haunting or as he would have defined it as fantastic as we explore more of the story the house and its inhabitants start to show their true intentions and desires.
The House itself gave off an entire feeling of being uncanny being a small home on a hillside know for being a haunted a great way this was highlighted was in this quote in chapter 2 when the guests first arrived “The four of them stood, for the first time, in the wide, dark entrance hall of Hill House. Around them the house steadied and located them, above them the hills slept watchfully, small eddies of air and sound and movement stirred and waited and whispered, and the center of consciousness was somehow the small space where they stood, four separated people, and looked trustingly at one another” This quote here just set the tone for how the rest of the story will play out.The Uncanny also plays out in this scene were eleanor is exploring the backside of the house and it great detail the architecture is described “Behind the house, seeming almost overhead, the great hills were muted and dull in the rain. Eleanor wandered along the veranda, thinking that she had never before known a house so completely surrounded. Like a very tight belt, she thought; would the house fly apart if the veranda came of!”Here we can see the house described in great detail how its design is so odd and how a house like this was something never seen before and how eleanor sees the landscape surrounding the house as if its choking it.
The story also very greatly explores the theme of haunting with the multiple apparitions and supernatural events that happen inside the house.One scene the shows this perfectly is when Eleanor is with Theodora Eleanor” It sounded, Eleanor thought, like a hollow noise, a hollow bang, as though something were hitting the doors with an iron kettle, or an iron bar, or an iron glove. It pounded regularly for a minute, and then suddenly more softly, and then again in a quick flurry, seeming to be going methodically from door to door at the end of the hall. Distantly she thought she could hear the voices of Luke and the doctor, calling from somewhere below, and she thought,Then they are not up here with us at all , and heard the iron crashing against what must have been a door very close”To me this really stuck out because of the way Eleanor Described it with hearing faint voices of people she knew wasn’t around them the loud noises in the distance and finally how it reached it climaxwith a loudbang on a door in hall causing both of the girls to investigate it.Another scene in the story tat encapsulates the gothic theme of haunting in the story was this scene in chapter 6 “the little gurgling laugh came again, and the rising mad sound of it drowned out the voice, and then suddenly absolute silence. Eleanor took a breath, wondering if she could speak now, and then she heard a little soft cry which broke her heart, a little infinitely sad cry, a little sweet moan of wild sadness. It is a child , she thought with disbelief, a child is crying somewhere, and then, upon that thought, came the wild shrieking voice she had never heard before and yet knew she had heard always in her nightmares. “Go away!” it screamed. “Go away, go away, don’t hurt me,”This was a fantastic way to present the true horror of the situation the sounds of gurgling and the voice fo children crying out in fear shows us the kinds of terrible things that must go on in this house and to its inhabitants.
The haunting of hill house was interesting story that explored many types of gothic elements that clearly are defining factors for its story.The Architecture of the house being so unlike anything else any of the guests have seen and the elaborate way the house is built on the inside makes the setting much more unsettling.The constant hauntings and ghost that appear throughout the story and how they interact with the guests is the most defining factor of the story as these encounters influence the characters and the progression of the story.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Haunting of Hill House”. 1959
“Haunted House.” Wikipedia
Haunting Of The Hill House
Pointed arch, ribbed vault and flying buttress are just three of the many elements that makes a space gothic. Imagine being stuck in a place with these elements or even staying the night. An experience like that would surely drive a person mad or just change their personality and their interactions as a whole, wether its with people or themselves. We can see this in Shirly Jackson “the haunting of the hill house”.
The main protagonist Eleanor can be seen as someone influenced by a gothic space. When we were first introduced to her, she was stuck taking care of her mother for 11 years. After her mom passed she received an invitation to the hill house. At the very moment she arrived she senses evil coming from the house. Now when we talk about a gothic space informing a characters action, the hill house fits this perfectly. The house literally speaks to Eleanor like its alive. For example when there was mysterious writing on the wall written in blood. “Can you read it?” Luke asked softly, and the doctor, moving his flashlight, read slowly: HELP ELEANOR COME HOME. No. And Eleanor felt the words stop in her throat; she had seen her name as the doctor read it. It is me, she thought. It is my name standing out there so clearly; I should not be on the walls of this house. “Wipe it off, please ,”(6;5) . When Eleanor sees this she becomes more frightened then she did when she arrived. So how can a woman who fears this place so much would want to stay after everything? The house basically changed Eleanor from a fearful person ,who felt trapped all her life and looking for freedom, to a fearless and deranged person. “They waved back at her dutifully, standing still, watching her. They will watch me down the drive as far as they can see, she thought; it is only civil for them to look at me until I am out of sight; But I won’t go, she thought, and just by telling me to go away they can’t make me leave, not if Hill House means me to stay. “Go away, Eleanor,” she chanted aloud, “go away, Eleanor, we don’t want you any more, not inour Hill House, go away, Eleanor, you can’t stayhere ; but I can,” she sang, “but I can;they don’t make the rules aroundhere . They can’t turn me out or shut me out or laugh at me or hide from me; I won’t go, and Hill House belongs to me ” (9;9). Eleanor goes from fearing the house to not wanting to leave. whatever haunted the house basically changed her and attracted her to it.
The hill house is, without a doubt, haunted. Based on the wikipedia definition, A haunted house is a house where supernatural events are believed to take place. It can contain ghosts or spirits of dead people. Based on my opinion, I would say that the events that took place in the house was more marvelous and uncanny than anything else. “Hill House itself, not sane, stood against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone” (9;9). This brief description of the home is a perfect representation of something uncanny. usually when we think of haunted houses we think of dirty moldy walls, darkness, and weird sounds. the hill house was described as a place that holds darkness yet the interior is neat and well built. Whats more mysterious and extraordinary then a clean home haunted by something paranormal. “
Even though the hill house is a scary, unsettling place Eleanor doesn’t want to leave, why? there were a few instances that reminded Eleanor of the home and her mother that she wanted to escape from. wether it was a noise or a paranormal event. for example, Coming, mother, coming,” Eleanor said, fumbling for the light. “It’s all right, I’m coming.”Eleanor , she heard,Eleanor . “Coming, coming,” she shouted irritably, “just a minute , I’mcoming Then she thought, with a crashing shock which brought her awake, cold and shivering, out of bed and awake:I am in Hill House.”(4;6). This quote is significant because Eleanors mother died and she became so used to taking care of her she started to hear her voice. I feel like this represents gothic homesickness because even though her mother passed away she still feels anxious about helping her. she still felt like she was at home when in reality she was still at the hill house.
in conclusion, the haunting of the hill house depicted many gothic elements such as gothic architecture, uncanny, gothic homesickness, and marvelous. The house changed Eleanor so much with its mysterious and extraordinary aspects. she went from a person that felt trapped and fearful to a person who actually fell in love with the thing she feared the most. The hill house.
Professor Sean Scanlan
December 14, 2020
In the chilling novel, “ The Haunting of Hill House” author Shirley Jackson, used concepts such as gothic homesickness and the uncanny to convey a message of central gothic irony throughout the storyline. With gothic homesickness essentially meaning, the feeling of the absence of something related to a lost home. Similar to the spirit of perverseness, gothic homesickness can lead to those affected to make drastic and in most cases destructive decisions in hopes of changing the idea of one’s imperfect reality of home; This type of homesickness is represented through the actions and emotions of protagonist, Eleanor Vance.
In the first chapter of “ The Haunting of Hill House”, what once could have been a homey and hospitable abode, is described as, “ not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.”(Jackson, Ch.1) The interior of the house is made to seem desolate, as it is said to have, “walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” (Jackson, Ch.1) With this in mind, “ Vidler’s The Architectural Uncanny”, in where architectural critic Anthony Vidler clarifies and/or distinguishes the difference architectural uncanny, which is “the lack of clarity between what is homely and what is on unhomely”(Vidler, pg.1)This being said, Hill House exemplifies architectural uncanny, especially with the house being alienated and almost exiled from other residence seeing as it stands alone, above the rest. As the storyline continues the research team experiences multiple paranormal phenomenon. One that captures a characters emotions towards an uncanny space is when Eleanor Vance, an unfortunate protagonist who’s struggling with her yearning to live freely after dedicating eleven years to caring her mother, recently passed.
In end of Chapter 3, Eleanor seems to find herself experiencing an uncanny feeling because although she does not deny the fact that there is a dreadful presence in the house yet she still finds to herself on familiar grounds. For instance it’s stated, “Eleanor thought wearily that it might be the darkness and oppression of Hill House that tired her so, and then it no longer mattered. The blue bed was unbelievably soft. Odd, she thought sleepily, that the house should be so dreadful and yet in many respects so physically comfortable—the soft bed, the pleasant lawn, the good fire, the cooking of Mrs. Dudley. The company too…”(Jackson, Ch.3). However, after experience a paranormal phenomenon in which Eleanor and Theodora hear a ‘bang sound, as it begins to echo, and the noise starts to travel closer to them. Eleanor thought it sounded like, “a hollow noise, a hollow bang, as though something were hitting the doors with an iron kettle, or an iron bar, or an iron glove. It pounded regularly for a minute, and then suddenly more softly, and then again in a quick flurry, seeming to be going methodically from door to door at the end of the hall.” (Jackson, Ch.4) During this time, when Luke and Dr. Montague were not in close enough vicinity to hear or be present for the phenomenon. This incident causes anxiety to rise especially seeing as they keep hearing sounds in the hallway and fighting the coldness of the room which creates for the perfect uncanny space.
Throughout the story Eleanor’s character is constantly put through stressful and difficult situation, that push her fears to the surface. This connects to the first line made In the beginning of the novel. For instance, it states, “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.” (Jackson, Ch.1) as it is made evident in Chapter 8, Eleanor is always feels out of place and which in turn is causing her to experience a sense of gothic homesickness, she tries to get Theodora to agree to allow her to stay with her but is rejected, which doesn’t necessarily help her mental stability. Although Eleanor’s childish actions were almost like a cry for attention didn’t pan out the way she expected leaving her feeling humiliated and alienated from the rest of the group. This caused Eleanor to have an unhealthy attachment to Hill House as she saw it as a possible place to create her idea of home. So when the others try to get her to leave the house she now see as an assured future, she begins to act destructively. For instance it’s stated, “But Iwon’t go, she thought, and laughed aloud to herself Hill House is not as easy asthey are; just by telling me to go away they can’t make me leave, not if Hill House means me to stay. “Go away, Eleanor,” she chanted aloud, “go away, Eleanor, we don’t want you any more, not inour Hill House, go away, Eleanor, you can’t stayhere ; but I can,” she sang, “but I can;they don’t make the rules aroundhere . They can’t turn me out or shut me out or laugh at me or hide from me; I won’t go, and Hill House belongs tome .”(Jackson, Ch.9) In the end, as she’s on the brink of insanity, her fears of leaving Hill House makes her fall under its domain and submit to her demise. Ultimately making Eleanor Vance, one of Hill House’s victims.
Freud’s “The Uncanny
Gothic Homesickness Handout
Jackson, Shirley. The Haunting of Hill House. Penguin, 1959.
Vidler’s The Architectural Uncanny
Manuel Angel Barreras
13 November 2020
The Haunting Of Hill House
Within the novel “The Haunting Of Hill House”, a team of people are recruited by Dr. Mountage to investigate the supernatural forces that take place within the Hill House. In this specific team of people, there is Eleanor, Theodora, Dr. Montague himself, and Luke, the nephew of the current owner of the Hill House. Throughout the story, there were many cases of gothic terms being displayed based on different rooms and structures in the house itself, but also when it comes to the behavior of the characters towards specific events and unsettling moments that cause this. There are many gothic terms that can present themselves in this novel, but I chose to specifically focus on Vidler’s architectural uncanny and Todorov’s uncanny/fantastic.
In the novel, the Hill House makes itself known with its unsettling feeling and gives the character an understanding of the dynamic the house has. In chapter 2, when the characters are getting ready to go to the house, it is very noticeable based on the structure of the house what type of haunting feeling it exudes. According to “The Haunting Of Hill House”, it states “No human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake”(Jackson, 1959, Chapter 2, Pg 14). With this specific quotation, it is evident that Vidler’s definition of architectural uncanny is taking place because of the unsettling feeling that the look of Hill House gives, these characters have never been in this house but the outside structure essentially gives a creepy but alive projection based on the frontal structure of the house. In chapter 4, Eleanor is with the group exploring Hill House and they come across the library and experience frigid temperatures. According to “The Haunting Of Hill House”, it states “I can’t go in there,” Eleanor said, surprising herself, but she could not. She backed away, overwhelmed with the cold air of mold and earth which rushed at her. “My mother—” she said, not knowing what she wanted to tell them, and pressed herself against the wall” (Jackson, 1959, Chapter 4, Pg 48). Within this quotation, you are able to see once again Vidler’s architectural uncanny because of how the library itself should be a place of serenity and wisdom in a typical house, but Eleanor becomes overwhelmed by the temperature and the smell of mold in the library to the point that it makes her very uncomfortable and she decides to not enter.
During the group’s stay at the Hill House, it is apparent the type of enigmatic journey it becomes to understand and investigate the house. According to “The Haunting Of Hill House”, it states “It doesn’t seem like an impartial cold,” Eleanor said, awkward because she was not quite sure what she meant. “I felt it as deliberate, as though something wanted to give me an unpleasant shock” (Jackson, 1959, Chapter 4, Pg 57). In direct relation to his quote, Vidler’s architectural uncanny has been demonstrated but also, in a way Todorov’s fantastic could be seen within this specific quotation. When the group reaches the nursery which is also the heart of the mansion, the air in the room feels neglectful and is very cold as well, because it is a nursery, it would be expected to be the most charming and innocent room in the house, but the guests are greeted with a frosty cold that makes the overall experience unpleasant. When it comes to Todorov’s fantastic, Eleanor’s feeling that the temperature in the room was deliberate could show how she might possibly believe there are supernatural forces that bring this neglectful feeling into the room with the wintry temperature. According to “The Haunting Of Hill House”, it states “No.” And Eleanor felt the words stop in her throat; she had seen her name as the doctor read it. It is me, she thought. It is my name standing out there so clearly; I should not be on the walls of this house… “Then why me?” Eleanor said, looking from one of them to another; I am outside, she thought madly, I am the one chosen, and she said quickly, beggingly, “Did I do something to attract attention, more than anyone else?” (Jackson, 1959, Chapter 5, Pgs 69-70). When reading this quotation, it is able to show how Todorov’s fantastic is being demonstrated. In this specific scene, the words “HELP ELEANOR COME HOME” are written on a wall in the house and there is no one to prove that it was anyone in the group to do this, causing Eleanor to believe that supernatural forces of the house have done this to show a sign, possibly to show that she is becoming apart of the Hill House soon enough or something else, either way, this supernatural phenomenon leads Eleanor to believe in what would be considered impossible.
The novel, The Haunting Of Hill House, is rich in many gothic concepts and accurately displays numerous gothic terms that were discussed throughout the course of this semester. My specific focus was on Vidler’s architectural uncanny and Todorov’s uncanny/fantastic to give the reader a better understanding of how specific events and character behavior could demonstrate the academic language used within the gothic period. In conclusion, The Haunting Of Hill House shows a deep cognizance of how to precisely demonstrate the lore and overall feeling of the gothic genre itself.
Jackson, Shirley,“The Haunting Of Hill House”, 1959
December 14, 2020
Eleanor & The Haunting of Hill House
Throughout the story “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson, the main characters experience a series of events of fantastic phenomenons while staying in a house that was believed to be haunted, for an experiment. The house was “haunted” because of a line of deaths that had happened throughout the history of the house. One of the main character experiences Gothic homesickness through a fantastic phenomenon inside a “haunted house”. This paper will explain what is Gothic homesickness and fantastic in Gothic literature and how the character’s emotions and or actions were influenced/affected by the Gothic spaces/architecture of Hill House.
Hill House is considered a haunted house by the owners, the caretakers and the people from the town. Everybody lives miles away from the house, they are afraid of what might happen next or better yet who might happen next. According to Wikipedia “a haunted house or ghost house is a house or other building often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were otherwise connected with the property. Parapsychologists often attribute haunting to the spirits of the dead who have suffered from violent or tragic events in the building’s past such as murder, accidental death, or suicide.” This is relevant because before Eleanor entered Hill House Mr. Dudley, the caretaker tried to warn her about Hill House and try to scare her off the house but Eleanor insisted and got inside the house. Then once she was finally inside Mrs. Dudley also tried to warn her that if something happened after dark in Hill House nobody was going to be able to hear them and more importantly nobody was going to go inside the house after dark, or as she would say “I leave before dark comes”(chapter 2, pg.16).
Gothic homesickness is a literary element that is very present in Eleanor’s character. She gets homesick by a home that is not a home, Hill House is unhomely and by a group of strangers that she doesn’t quiet know much about. Gothic homesickness is “the feeling of missing something related to home that is now gone. Gothic homesickness, however, is more extreme than homesickness in that the such feelings and decisions about home may destroy the actual home. What this means is that the negativity surrounding the home may activate violent—perhaps even deadly—decisions to destroy.” Another literary element that is shown in the story is fantastic, Eleanor experiences a series of fantastic phenomenon after being in Hill House for a few days. Eleanor experiences supernatural events such as hearing voices or weird sounds, and feeling the presence of “spirits”. Todorov’s states that ‘“The fantastic requires the fulfillment of three conditions. First, the text must oblige the reader to consider the world of the characters as a world of living persons and to hesitate between a natural and a supernatural explanation of the events described” (32).’
One day, Eleanor told Theo that once they are out of Hill House she was going to move in with her, Theo was not very fund of the idea. However, Eleanor felt like they were very close, close enough to move in with her after the experiment with Dr. Montague and Luke. According to the text,
‘“I’ve been wondering.”
“Well?” Theodora smiled a little. “You look so serious,” she said. “Are you coming to some great decision?”
“Yes,” Eleanor said, deciding. “About what I’m going to do afterwards. After we all leave Hill House.”
“I’m coming with you,” Eleanor said.
“Coming where with me?”
“Back with you, back home. I”—and Eleanor smiled wryly— “am going to follow you home.”
Theodora stared. “Why?” she asked blankly.”
“I never had anyone to care about,” Eleanor said, wondering where she had heard someone say something like this before. “I want to be someplace where I belong.”
“I am not in the habit of taking home stray cats,” Theodora said lightly” (chapter 8, pg. 100).
This important because Eleanor and Theo form a sisterly like bond. For example, they would paint each other nails, exchange clothes and hang out together. Therefore, Eleanor believes that it is okay to go live with Theo even though they are practically total strangers; she got used to her, and didn’t want to be away from her. This shows that Eleanor is not only homesick by a home but by people that she feels that appreciate her and that are family like, Eleanor wants to belong. In addition, Eleanor had a very unfortunate connection with the house and Dr. Montague decided she had to leave Hill House. However, Eleanor didn’t want to leave Hill House even though she knew it was not a place suitable for a human to live in; she wanted to stay there. Jackson states that,
‘“Why,” the doctor said, “home, of course,” and Theodora said,
“Nell, your own little place, your own apartment, where all your things are,” and Eleanor laughed.
“I haven’t any apartment,” she said to Theodora. “I made it up. I sleep on a cot at my sister’s, in the baby’s room. I haven’t any home, no place at all. And I can’t go back to my sister’s because I stole her car.” She laughed, hearing her own words, so inadequate and so unutterably sad. “I haven’t any home,” she said again, and regarded them hopefully. “No home. Everything in all the world that belongs to me is in a carton in the back of my car. That’s all I have, some books and things I had when I was a little girl, and a watch my mother gave me. So you see there’s no place you can send me”’ (chapter 9, pg.116).
This is relevant because it really shows Gothic homesickness at its finest. Eleanor wants to stay at Hill House with her “friends” even after knowing and experiencing supernatural events, even after knowing the history of Hill House. The story about Hill House says that almost everybody that have lived in the house ends up dead and yet Eleanor sees passed that and wants to be in Hill House. She doesn’t have a home and Hill House is probably the closest thing to a home she has had in years.
The night before Dr. Montague decides to tell Eleanor to go back home Eleanor believes that her mom was inside the house. That night Eleanor couldn’t sleep, so she went down the stairs to the library to get a book to read; but she felt an “spirit” and believed it was her mother, she ran all around the house following and looking for her “mother”, her deceased mother whom she took care of for eleven years. According to chapter 9,
“… But I can’t go in there; I’m not allowed in there—and recoiled in the doorway before the odor of decay, which nauseated her. “Mother,” she said aloud, and stepped quickly back. “Come along,” a voice answered distinctly upstairs, and Eleanor turned, eager, and hurried to the staircase.
“Mother?” she said softly, and then again, “Mother?” A little soft laugh floated down to her, and she ran, breathless, up the stairs and stopped at the top, looking to right and left along the hallway at the closed doors.
“You’re here somewhere,” she said, and down the hall the little echo went, slipping in a whisper on the tiny currents of air.
“Somewhere,” it said. “Somewhere”’(chapter 9, pgs. 110-111).
This illustrates that Eleanor was facing a fantastic phenomenon, Hill House was affecting her in a deeper level. She was talking and connecting in a more personal level with the house’s “spirits”, since she believed her mom was inside Hill House and talking with her when her mother its actually dead. Hill House got insides Eleanor’s head and make her run around the house and up and down the stair, until everybody wakes up and realize that she is influenced/possessed by the “spirits” of the house. Moreover, Eleanor becomes so attached to the house that the house could feed onto her emotions of homesickness and didn’t want to let her go neither, so it decided (the house) to play with her head once again to convince her to stay, but it (the house) knew she couldn’t stay therefore it killed her so that she couldn’t go anywhere. According to the text,
“With what she perceived as quick cleverness she pressed her foot down hard on the accelerator; they can’t run fast enough to catch me this time, she thought, but by now they must be beginning to realize; I wonder who notices first? Luke, almost certainly. I can hear them calling now, she thought, and the little footsteps running through Hill House and the soft sound of the hills pressing closer. I am really doing it, she thought, turning the wheel to send the car directly at the great tree at the curve of the driveway, I am really doing it, I am doing this all by myself, now, at last; this is me, I am really really really doing it by myself.
In the unending, crashing second before the car hurled into the tree she thought clearly, Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? Why don’t they stop me?” (chapter 9, pg. 119).
This is important because it shows how badly Eleanor was affected by the supernatural experiences and the empty feeling of homesickness. The house got into her head and made her to make drastic decisions. So drastic that she drove herself into a tree and ended up dying. She didn’t want to leave because in a way Hill House was a home for her, even though Hill couldn’t be a home for any human; Hill House was inhumane, it was evil.
Lastly, Eleanor gets homesick by the one thing she shouldn’t have gotten homesick for. Eleanor got Gothic homesickness for a haunted house, for Hill House which cause her death at the end of the story; Hill House destroyed her not only psychologically but also physically. After taking care of her sick mother for eleven years, and then the only reason she stops taking care of her mom is because she dies. Her mom dies, and then she moves in with her sister in a home where she doesn’t really belong because there is not even a place for her, she sleeps in the living room and or in the baby room. The point is she found comfort in Hill House because it was a place where she finally found people that took care of her instead of her taking care of them; it was a place where she had her own space. In hill house she was appreciated by her “friends” which she eventually kind of consider them family because it was the closest thing she had to a home and to a family. The Gothic space of Hill House affected her so much that she only made it out of there only for a few minutes, she died or like the story says she “hurled into a tree” and eventually die. Hill House killed her!
Jackson, Shirley. “The Haunting of Hill House”. 1959.
Prof. Scanlan. “Definition of Homesickness and Gothic Homesickness”. 2020.
Translated by Richard Howard. “From Tzvetan Todorov’s The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre”. Ithaca, Cornell UP, 1975.
“Haunted House.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haunted_house.
Eng 3407-O628 Lec(53013)
Eleanor’s Hill House
Is the supernatural real or is it something that was made up from our fears and is just a figment of our imagination. I do not know if we can ever get a solid answer to if it’s real ornery but many people have attempted from past to present. This thing called supernatural investigation was displayed greatly in a novel called The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson . This novel had a great concept about a lot of gothic theories that could surround the supernatural and for this novel the theory being the fantastic and uncanny, it showed great representation of gothic spaces in Hill House. In the house a double seemed to be from or a sort of connection which was Eleanor and the Hill House itself which opposed each other at some point but also connected or seem they are made for each other a real pair towards the end. This in all is what the novel was covering and what intriguing reactions popped out the most to me.
The double pairings Eleanor and the Hill House did not have many great times together. The house wore Eleanor down mentally throughout and made her really unstable with her actions and emotion. Even before she got to the house itself the gate already gave her a little feeling of what the house was like itself and that gate and the area around it made that a great gothic space. Eleanor herself stated that “The gate was tall and ominous and heavy, set strongly into a stone wall which went off through the trees”(Jackson, pg 11) and those are the feelings which are gothic and what gothic space should make you feel dark and ominous. when shoes get there what she experiences and feels is much worse than just an ominous feeling . For Eleanor and Hill house the interaction wasn’t always pleasant but not to say that didn’t have some good parts. Like when Eleanor first came to the house and was finally able to relax unlike before shows that she liked that about the house and got something out of being in the house that time. It was even stated that ” It was a surprise to find that she had slept until after eight, and she thought that it was ironic that the first good night’s sleep she had had in years had come to her in Hill House”(Jackson, chpt 4) and there it proved that a positive connection between the house and Eleanor was made because of what the house did for Eleanor.
The parts where the house mentally strained Eleanor was deep and even caused a strain in the relationships with the members of her team. For example when they came out and saw writing on the wall which talked about Eleanor specifically it stated in the novel “”Can you read it?” Luke asked softly, and the doctor, moving his flashlight, read slowly: HELP ELEANOR COME HOME.”(Jackson, chpt 5) and from there it caused Eleanor a shock and caused her to not have the same relationship with Theodora after . What caused that to happen was when Eleanor said “Did you write it?” Eleanor turned to Theodora. “Please tell me—I won’t be angry or anything, just so I can know that—maybe it was only a joke”(Jackson, chpt5) all that showed a sense of distrust between them and no wonder one would leave the side of someone due to that. This event had the properties of a gothic theory since the novel itself is gothic and focuses on gothic theories throughout and it embodied the theory of the uncanny. In this case because it was never shown if a member of the team wrote it or if it was the Haunted Hill House so the event acted as an interaction between the house and Eleanor because it could have been the house which committed the act. That idea was on Eleanor’s mind as well which would count this as one of the parts where the double of the Hill House and Eleanor was not positive and affected her mentally. Even though all that showed a great connection, the greatest one between the Hill House and Eleanor was the ending of the story. Where she didn’t want to leave the Hill House it was shown when she said herself that “The house wants me to stay”(Jackson, chpt9) this could also be seen as the fantastic because we never know if she really hears the Hill House or if it’s just all in her head. Not only that but it confirmed that the house and Eleanor are a real pair true doubles which attract each other in the end.
That was what this doubles pair of the Hill House and Eleanor went through together. It still isn’t made clear if the Hill House was really alive or supernatural in the end and that was what made this story truly a great example of the uncanny and fantastic depicted by Todorov. All that mattered was that to Eleanor it was alive and a place where she belonged the only place she can be at since she had nowhere else to go to or call home. The whole story covered a lot about them, the Hill House and the others but the one it affected themes and meant the most to was Eleanor and that is why they are best double shown in the story. They attract one another not always in a fond way but to Elenor after being damaged psychologically in the house which would count as the times they opposed each other, but all that didn’t matter after all in the ending of the novel. That place became her home and she could only perceive it as something good for her and similar to her. That attracted her to it and they became truly connected as one after all the good and bad presented at Hill House, to Eleanor the house was meant for her.
Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
The Doubles of Hill House
ENG 3407 – O628
The Doubles of Hill House
The short novel “Hill House” by Shirley Jackson was written in 1959. It focuses on a house that is set on top of a hill and it is told to hold many secrets. However, Jackson focuses on a lot of different themes besides the fact that the house is haunted. She focuses specifically on the theme of doubles. Eleanor and Theodora are the main doubles in the story, and Jackson and Hattenhauer discuss and show that doubles are sometimes essential in life and other times they can just get in the way.
Eleanor and Theodora are twins essentially and they are the main characters and those who will inherit Hill House. The fact that they are twins shows that at some point in the story they will become essential in life and they will have to rely on each other. One way they are essential for the story is a way to fool others. In a way, Eleanor and Theodora are like children messing with a babysitter. In “American Gothic” Hattenhauer writes “When they are about to share not only a room but also clothes, Theodora says, ‘We’re going to be practically twins’ (158) “ (p. 162). This shows that they are twins since they seem to dress alike. It also means that they have become close to each other and they can rely on each other.
Another way that the idea of doubles are essential in life is the ideas of opposites. This connects back to the idea where sometimes doubles can get in the way of each other and what they want to pursue in life. Hattenhauer writes “Theodora is the projection of Eleanor’s denied self” and “she embodies Eleanor’s repressed eroticism and assertiveness” (163). In a way Theodora is getting in Eleanor’s way because Eleanor can’t seem to express herself while Theodora is around because Theodora is taking Eleanor’s spotlight. Theodora is everything Eleanor is not and that in a sense would make her jealous of Theodora. This proves the idea that sometimes doubles will just get in the way of each other and shows that there are times that they won’t get along, which differs a little bit from what Hattenhauer is trying to tell us.
Doubles are needed in a story like Hill House because they help us to understand that some things in life you don’t have to go through by yourself. It would be easier to have someone go through it with you. However, Jackson and Hattenhauer also show that sometimes doubles are not as easy to deal with as we thought. Eleanor and Theodora are sisters but they don’t get along. It can get to the point where some things are said that can’t be taken back. Hattenhauer writes, “When Eleanor tells her desperately that she wants to go home with her, Theodora asks, ‘Do you always go where you’re not wanted? “ (p. 163). That is something that is not out in the open and she can’t take that back. It breaks the balance they have because although they can exist without each other, now they would have to go through certain scenarios on their own and it would make things a lot harder for them because now they are alone.
Eleanor and Theodora are opposites in terms of beliefs and opinions but they are still sisters no matter what happens to them. They are also different in terms of personality. Compared to Eleanor who “held the fast belief that something would happen” Theodora seemed to come from a world of “delight and soft colors” (p. 2-3). This means that the two of them are from different worlds, or should belong in different worlds. However, they are still sisters no matter what happens to them in the end. In terms of beliefs, they definitely have some differences. Theodora believes that she and Eleanor should stick together while Eleanor believes that she should go solo. She thinks that she would be better off without Theodora and would rather go exploring alone.
Not only that but their ideas of home are different as well, especially towards the end of the story. When everyone else wanted to go home and live their normal lives, Eleanor didn’t. She preferred to stay at Hill House because it felt like that was where she belonged. While she was leaving Hill House, and waving to everybody she states “They can’t turn me out or shut me out or laugh at me or hide from me; I won’t go, and Hill House belongs to me.” (p.119). The fact that she said the Hill House belongs to her shows that she has a deep connection to the house and she’s drawn to it. This ties into the idea of gothic homesickness in a way because she’s so insistent on going back to Hill House that she was willing to abandon her entire family just to go to the house.
In conclusion, Jackson and Hattenhauer both show that doubles is a prominent theme that is displayed in Hill House. They both prove that doubles are essential in helping the characters and the story to move forward, but at the same time they could tear the characters apart and cause them to make irrational choices.
Hattenhauer, D. (2003). Shirley Jackson’s American Gothic. Retrieved December 13, 2020, from https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/scanlan-eng3407-gothic-spring2018/files/2018/05/SeansGothicClass-Shirley_Jacksons_American_Gothic_Hattenhauer.pdf
Jackson, S. (1984). The haunting of Hill House. New York, NY: Penguin. Retrieved December 13, 2020 from https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/profscanlan-english3407-gothic-fall2020/files/2020/11/jackson_-_the_haunting_of_hill_house.pdf Jackson, S. (2019). The haunting of Hill House. New York: Penguin Books.
ENG-3407 Gothic Literature
Professor Sean Scanlan
“The Haunting of Hill House and The Uncanny”
The book “Haunting of Hill House” written by Shirley Jackson, is about Dr. Montague inviting a research team to stay at hill house for a few days for the purpose to find some paranormal phenomena. Hill House was created by a man named Hugh Crain and he created hill house as if it would one day be like a display. This team consists of four people: Luke, Theodora, Eleanor, and Dr. Montague. As days pass by, supernatural manifestation has been present every day. Supernatural is best explained as an intensity that goes beyond nature. The research team experienced many paranormal phenomena that lead to space and architecture to inform the plot or character’s emotions or decisions.
One paranormal activity that takes place is in chapter 4, where Theodora is woken up by a banging noise by her room door. She screams for Eleanor, waking her up and when she gets up, she thinks her mother is calling her name but then she remembers that she is in Hill House. She realizes that Theodora is calling her, and she “struggled briefly with the door of the connecting bathroom” (Jackson, pg. 61) and goes into her room. The temperature went down and there was a loud banging noise coming from Theo’s door and hallway. They both heard “the iron crash came against their door, and both of them lifted their eyes in horror, because the hammering was against the upper edge of the door, higher than either of them could reach, higher than Luke or the doctor could reach” (Jackson, pg.62). Each Theo and Eleanor were afraid and horrified by the noise. When Luke and Dr. Montague checked up on the girls, it is revealed that the men have been on a wild goose chase. For two hours they have been chasing a dog around Hill House and they do not know where it went. They were confused as to how a dog got in the house when all the doors were locked. Both Luke and Dr. Montague did not hear any banging noises that the girls were talking about. Ironically, this paranormal phenomenon occurs when the group is split up. According to Anthony Vidler’s definition of architectural uncanny, he feels as though “The architectural uncanny is represented by a feeling of anxiety in which there is a slippage and lack of clarity between what is homely and what is unhomely” (Vidler’s, pg.1). This also occurs in chapter 4 when Eleanor and Theo hear the banging noise by the door and hallway which then interferes with that homely feeling and make them feel unhomely. Also, the fear they encountered represented anxiety. Architectural uncanny is present within the whole house. For example, when Hugh Crain created Hill House, he made it in a way to confuse people and for the house to not be a regular house. Jackson states, “Angles which you assume are the right angles you are accustomed to, and have every right to expect are true, are actually a fraction of a degree off in one direction or another”(Jackson, pg.49). When you look out of Theodora’s and Eleanor’s windows you should see the veranda, however, you do not.
According to Todorov’s definition of uncanny, the fantastic, and the marvelous, this scene falls under fantastic which is about uncertainty. In the novel, there is no explanation as to how the dog got into the Hill House, where it went, or who was knocking on the door that only Eleanor and Theodora heard. The only thing that can answer these questions is paranormal activity. However, there is a chance that it may not be a ghost, but a human that is doing this to them.
Another important scene occurs towards the end of the novel. Hill House tears Eleanor apart and makes her feel scared, anxious, and distrustful. However, this also has a way of making her feel at home and wanted. Eleanor finally surrenders to Hill House, which means that she allowed the hauntings to get inside her head and it begins to make her do things that her old self would not do. An example would be leaving her room in the middle of the night which is dangerous in Hill House. She begins to mock the hill house by knocking on all the doors as if she was the ghost. When everyone awoke, they could not seem to find Eleanor and when everyone was looking for her, she tried to hide from them. She finds her way in the library by climbing the stairs up to the tower, which is the same tower that Mr. Crain’s daughter’s companion died. Luke, Dr. Montague, and Theodora find Eleanor and try to help her down. Eleanor comes back to her senses, looks down, and sees the tower below her and “the iron stairway clinging to the tower walls, shaking and straining under Luke’s feet” (Jackson, pg.113). Luke eventually gets her down safely. The next day it is decided that Eleanor should go home because Hill House has become a dangerous place for her. The architecture uncanny that is present in this scene would be the tower in the library that Eleanor climbs. Eleanor climbs this fragile staircase and as she gets to the top, the staircase becomes shaky. This is that anxious feeling that Vidler talks about, where you feel unsafe in a place that you should feel safe in. In Vidler’s definition he believes that the anxious feeling “emanates from fragmented, mirrored, reflecting, and transparent surfaces that we see and move through—and live within” (Vidler, pg.1). Eleanor could be mirroring herself from Hill House which is why she is knocking on all the doors. She has become one with the house.
As stated by Todorov’s definition of uncanny, the fantastic, and the marvelous, this scene falls under fantastic because in the novel it is assumed that the house is responsible for making Eleanor act abnormal by getting into her head. In the novel, it is already known to the reader that not too many people stay in Hill House for long and that there is a pattern of people dying in Hill House. Therefore, in the novel, it could be possible that the house is getting in her head. However, Eleanor has been through a lot in her life, so there is a chance that she could be going through a psychological or mental breakdown.
Understanding how supernatural phenomena lead to architecture to impel the character’s emotions and decisions is important because you can see how Eleanor starts off as a shy and over-analyzing woman who tries to seek what her purpose in life is. Progressively through the novel, she opens up, becomes vocal, and does things that the old Eleanor would not do. For example, Eleanor decides to knock on all the doors, climb a dangerous tower, and then commits suicide. Hill House changed and affected her in many ways. Todorov’s definition of uncanny and Anthony Vidler’s definition of architectural uncanny help make sense of these scenes and the novel as a whole. Eleanor experienced discomfort with Hill House and as time went by, she became part of Hill House.
Shirley Jackson. “The Haunting of Hill House”.1959
Anthony Vidler’s. “The Architectural Uncanny”. Essays in the Modern Unhomely. Cambridge. MA: The MIT P. 1992
Tzvetan Todorov’s. “The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre”. Translated by Richard Howard. Ithaca. Cornell UP. 1975