World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Haunting of Hill House

Article Id: WHEBN0001964153
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Haunting of Hill House  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Shirley Jackson, The Haunting (1963 film), The Sundial, The Shining (novel), The Shining (film)
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

The Haunting of Hill House

For the Richard Matheson novel, see Hell House, made into a film titled The Legend of Hell House.
The Haunting of Hill House
First edition
Author Shirley Jackson
Country United States
Language English
Genre Gothic fiction
Publisher Viking/Penguin Books
Publication date
1959
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 246 pp
ISBN NA

The Haunting of Hill House is a 1959 novel by author Shirley Jackson. Finalist for the National Book Award and considered one of the best literary ghost stories published during the 20th century,[1] it has been made into two feature films and a play. Jackson's novel relies on terror rather than horror to elicit emotion by the reader, utilizing complex relationships between the mysterious events in the house and the characters’ psyches.

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Reception 2
  • Adaptations 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5

Plot

Hill House is an eighty-year-old mansion built by a man named Hugh Crain who died. The story concerns four main characters: Dr. John Montague, an investigator of the supernatural; Eleanor Vance, a shy young woman who resents having lived as a recluse caring for her demanding invalid mother; Theodora, a flamboyant, bohemian, possibly lesbian artist; and Luke Sanderson, the young heir to Hill House, who is host to the others.

Dr. Montague hopes to find scientific evidence of the existence of the supernatural. He rents Hill House for a summer and invites as his guests several people whom he has chosen because of their past experience with paranormal events. Of these, only Eleanor and Theodora accept. Eleanor travels to the house, where she and Theodora will live in isolation with Montague and Luke.

Hill House has two caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Dudley, who refuse to stay near the house at night. The blunt and single-minded Mrs. Dudley is a source of some comic relief. The four overnight visitors begin to form friendships as Dr. Montague explains the building’s history, which encompasses suicide and other violent deaths.

All four of the inhabitants begin to experience strange events while in the house, including unseen noises and ghosts roaming the halls at night, strange writing on the walls and other unexplained events. Eleanor tends to experience phenomena to which the others are oblivious. At the same time, Eleanor may be losing touch with reality, and the narrative implies that at least some of what Eleanor witnesses may be products of her imagination. Another implied possibility is that Eleanor possesses a subconscious telekinetic ability that is itself the cause of many of the disturbances experienced by her and other members of the investigative team (which might indicate there is no ghost in the house at all). This possibility is suggested especially by references early in the novel to Eleanor's childhood memories about episodes of a poltergeist-like entity that seemed to involve mainly her.

Later in the novel, the bossy and arrogant Mrs. Montague and her companion Arthur Parker, the headmaster of a boys’ school, arrive to spend a weekend at Hill House and to help investigate it. They, too, are interested in the supernatural, including séances and spirit writing. Ironically, and unlike the other four characters, they do not experience anything supernatural, although some of Mrs. Montague’s alleged spirit writings seem to communicate with Eleanor. Mrs. Montague's haughtiness and self-importance provide another source of comic relief.

Much of the supernatural phenomena that occur are described only vaguely, or else are partly hidden from the characters themselves. Eleanor and Theodora are in a bedroom with an unseen force trying the door, and Eleanor believes after the fact that the hand she was holding in the darkness was not Theodora’s. In one episode, as Theodora and Eleanor walk outside Hill House at night, they see a ghostly family picnic that seems to be taking place in daylight. Theodora screams in fear for Eleanor to run, warning her not to look back, though the book never explains what Theodora sees.

By this point in the book, it is becoming clear to the characters that the house is beginning to possess Eleanor. Fearing for her safety, Dr. Montague and Luke declare that she must leave. Eleanor, however, regards the house as her home and resists. Dr Montague and Luke force her into her car; she bids them farewell and drives off, but before leaving the property grounds she propels the car into a large oak tree, and it is assumed that she is killed. In the short, final paragraph that follows, the reader is left uncertain whether Eleanor was simply an emotionally disturbed woman who committed suicide, or whether her death at Hill House has a supernatural significance.

Reception

Stephen King, in his book Danse Macabre (1981), a non-fiction review of the horror genre, lists The Haunting of Hill House as one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century and provides a lengthy review. According to the Wall Street Journal, the book is "now widely regarded as the greatest haunted-house story ever written."[2] In his review column for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Damon Knight selected the novel as one of the 10 best genre books of 1959, declaring it "in a class by itself."[3]

Adaptations

The book has been adapted to film twice, in 1963 and again in 1999, both times under the title The Haunting. The 1963 version is a relatively faithful adaptation and received critical praise. The 1999 version, considerably different from the novel and widely panned by critics, is an overt fantasy horror in which all the main characters are terrorized and two are killed by explicitly supernatural deaths. In 2015, Anthony Neilson prepared a stage adaptation for Sonia Friedman and Hammer for production at the Liverpool Playhouse.[4]

References

  1. ^ The Haunting of Hill HouseShirley Jackson and
  2. ^ John J. Miller, "Chilling Fiction," Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2009
  3. ^ "Books", The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1960, p.98
  4. ^ "Liverpool Playhouse to Present The Haunting of Hill House". Broadway World. Retrieved 20 October 2015. 

Further reading

  • 1984, The Haunting of Hill House, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-007108-3
  • Nazare, Joe (February 2010). "Haunting anniversary : a half-century of Hill House". * 
  • Richard Pascal, "Walking Alone Together: Family Monsters in The Haunting of Hill House." Studies in the Novel Volume 46, Number 4, Winter 2014, pp. 464-485.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.