The Haunting of Hill House is considered a classic to many people. It has a certain sense of feeling missing from today’s novels. The Haunting of Hill House has suspense, horror, a little bit of romance, and an ending that will leave you thinking for days. Shirley Jackson is well known for her twisted work.
At the beginning of the book, you our introduced to a character that has a major impact on all of its guests. Hill House. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within. This is just one of the chilling sentences from the opening paragraph. The fear begins to set in.
Shortly after, you are introduced to the strong yet cautious Dr. John Montague. He is a doctor of philosophy and has a new study up his sleeve. He is going to rent the haunted Hill House and document all that goes on. To accompany him and further the study, are three assistants.
After considerable research, three patients are chosen. Eleanor Vance, Luke Sanderson, and Theodora (Theo) are the chosen few. You are first brought into the life of Eleanor Vance. Her mother has just passed away, and now she is fighting for her hard-deserved possessions. Eleanor has never been accepted. She has always been on her own and liked it that way. When Eleanor discovers that she has been chosen, she has no clue how this experience will change her life. Next, we are introduced to Theodora. Her last name is never revealed which gives her a sense of mystery. Theo could be considered any man’s dream. She is quite beautiful and has that certain something. Theo gladly accepts the invitation to Hill House, and nothing more is said. Luke Sanderson is the future inheritor of Hill House. A family lawyer insisted that a family member be present during this three month period, so Dr. Montague gladly chose Luke.
Shortly after, Eleanor, Theodora, Luke, Dr. Montague, and his secretary arrive at Hill House. They are introduced to the mysterious housekeepers, the Dudleys. Theo and Eleanor quickly form a bond and explore the home. They discover how elaborate and titanic Hill House is. The fireplace, walk out veranda, and library are just some of the things that the girls discover. Everyone loves the house for its beauty and extravagance.
Later on in the evening, Dr. Montague tells the long history of Hill House. It was owned by Hugh Crain. He had two children, but their mother was killed in a carriage accident just before she arrived at the house. His second wife died from a fall, possible suicide. Crain’s third wife died of tuberculosis. Shortly after, Crain passed away in Europe. His two daughters were left with the house, but many fights occur over who should get it. The older sister dies, and the young sister ends up owning it. She commits suicide, and Hill House is left to the Sandersons.
The first night was fine, but many things begin to happen. The following night, Theodora and Eleanor have a terrifying encounter. While sleeping, Eleanor hears a pounding sound. She wakes up. The sound continues, so she rushes to Theodora’s room. The room becomes ice cold, and the pounding becomes louder. After an intense amount of time, Dr. Montague and Luke arrive. Another thing is discovered by the guests. Outside of the nursery, a cold spot occurs. Nothing can be explained about the cold feeling, but it occurs every time they walk passed it. Over time, Eleanor sees and feels the presence of a superior being. The following quotation comes from the chilling moment when Eleanor discovers no one is in her room: God God-whose hand was I holding?
Over time, Eleanor becomes attached to the house. She feels like the house is talking to her. On one occasion, WELCOME HOME ELEANOR was written over Theo’s room and clothing. It was written in blood. Eleanor becomes furious, thinking her fellow spouses wrote the frightening message. Then again, she feels like the house is speaking to her. She feels like Hill House is part of her. Later on, this obsession goes one step too far.
Towards the end of the book, Mrs. Montague arrives at Hill House. With her, she brings planchette. Planchette is a form of the ouija board. With planchette, Mrs. Montague can contact the spirits of the house. In her planchette sessions, the names Nellie, Nell, and Eleanor are brought up many times. This feeds the obsession of Eleanor and Hill House.
After time, Eleanor begins to feel as if Hill House was her house. It has almost become a friend. The paranormal encounters and psychological effects of the house made her almost, insane. Dr. Montague and the others all agreed that she needed to be home. It was for her own safety.
The morning that Eleanor was scheduled to leave was like any other. Mrs. Dudley set out their breakfast, and all in all, it seemed like a normal day. Everyone gave their good-byes, and Theo was especially sad to see Eleanor go. Eleanor got into her car, but something wasn’t right. Her mind was telling her that Hill House belonged to her. How dare they tell me to leave, and what gives them the right to make the rules? Hill House was HER house. In an act to save her dignity, Eleanor presses the gas. She turns the wheel and crashes straight into a tree. Her life had ended.
After an ending like this, you begin to think. Was Hill House really haunted? Or was it the psyche of Eleanor Vance that caused these encounters? All in all, Eleanor was never accepted, and she finally found someone that accepted her for what she was. That someone was Hill House. This story became one of my favorites after reading it. I would recommend this book to any person who has been the outcast.