Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

As my study of the horror genre continues, next stop, THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE…

When I was in Junior High, like most eighth graders, I read Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery.” To this day, Ms. Jackson’s visuals are permanent etchings upon the haunted corridors of my mind. The fear upon Tessie Hutchinson’s face, previously so cocky, so full of bravado now shattered beneath the grim realization that it is her life that is in jeopardy. Honestly, I need to go back and read that story again.

But no true fan or determined writer of scary stories, should leave The Haunting of Hill House off their syllabus of must reads. After not being able to find a copy of Ms. Jackson’s, dare I say, “haunting” masterpiece for so long, I was finally able to locate and read the story of Hill House.

Like my memories of The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, is a very clever and suspenseful tale. I won’t go into details or elaborate, no doubt that’s been done, re-done and over done.

 

No, what struck me about the story, more than anything was how the two young woman, Theodora and Eleanor bonded that first day, two complete strangers forming an alliance against the unknown.

Then through the course of the story, how their relationship slowly and purposefully unraveled. But who was the cause of this unraveling? Was it one of the women? Perhaps. Maybe Theodora in her flighty shallowness or Eleanor in her insecurity. But, better yet, maybe the house itself caused the unraveling of their friendship or as the Doctor so eloquently stated, “Divide and conquer.”

From the beginning, you know something terrible is going to happen. The author has set the stage perfectly, pulling you in gradually page by page. And then there’s the pounding, the knocking on doors and walls, but is the noise real or just the imagination or imaginations of the four visitors. There is even a point where Eleanor seems to be the only one hearing “things.”

What was so amazing to me about The Haunting of Hill House was how one minute I, as the reader, wanted to slam the book shut (can you do that with a paperback) and run for the proverbial hills and the next, because Ms. Jackson’s characters are so enticing, I had to read more. She orchestrated her highs of intense anxiety and lulls of engaging verbal frolic between the house guests perfectly. And then, as the suspense rose to its climax, two more characters, outsiders, were thrown in, and I felt compelled to defend the actions of the original four. Well done!

Oh, and I must ad, as Eleanor is pushed into the vehicle at the end, I actually felt her fear of the future, her sense of abandonment and betrayal. I didn’t want her to leave.

Was The Haunting of Hill House the most brilliant book I’ve ever read? No, but it was certainly one of the most clever.

 

2 Replies to “Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House”

  1. As a writer, Jackson developed a lucrative sideline producing witty autobiographical sketches of her endearingly chaotic family life for women’s magazines. The pieces, collected in two popular volumes,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

close

Did you enjoy your visit? Please spread the word

EMAIL
Pinterest
Pinterest
Tumblr
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
http://ingridfoster.com/shirley-jacksons-the-haunting-of-hill-house
RSS
LINKEDIN
SOCIALICON