By Shirley Jackson
Bullying (Mentioned), Death, Drinking (Alcohol), Emotional Abuse, Mental Abuse, Mental Illness, Murder, Poor Coping Mechanisms, Self-Injury, Suicidal Thoughts, Suicide
Body Count: Technically only one during the story itself. But the house has devoured more lives than that.
- Technical Genre: Horror, Classic Horror
- Theo’s Genre: Horror, Spooktale
- Page count:
- 242 pages, depending on edition
- Unreliable 3rd Person
- Publication information:
- Paperback page count: 242 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (November 28, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143134191
Other Fun Stuff:
To Read or Not To Read (Again):
Bedside Bookshelf Donated Furniture Support
Rating out of five: 2.5 out of 5
Representation and Sexism Tests:
Bechdel–Wallace Test: PASS!
Do two female characters talk about something than a male character?
Yes! They do!
DuVernay Test: FAIL
Are there fully actualized characters of color?
No there are not.
Ellen Willis Test: PASS
Would two related characters still work to carry the story if their genders were reversed? YES NO
Mako Mori Test: PASS!
Is there a female character? YES
Does she get her own arc? YES
Does it do anything but support a man’s story? YES
Sexy Lamp Test: PASS
Would the plot fall apart if the female character was replaced by a sexy looking lamp?
It would absolutely fall apart.
Vito Russo Test: PASS
Is there a character on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum? Yes
Are they a character beyond their orientation? Absolutely.
Do they affect the plot? Greatly.
I can easily see why this is a classic. Eleanor, as unreliable as she is, sees much more than what is there. She is a mournful, nearly self-loathing puppet recently released from her mother’s controlling ways. Even in death, however, her mother so greatly shapes parts of her character and holds her back from doing things.
The smattering of bravery and rebellion that first gets Eleanor to Hill House’s doors also twists into a flashbang of a friendship with Theo. One bright spot of friendship quickly marred by the drastic differences between the two women. Luke, far less the cad he is so purported to be, seems to be sweet on them both.
With better ease than some, I can easily see why one might perceive the relationship between Theo and Eleanor to be one that smacks of Sapphic leanings. However, I think it is both far more simple and infinitely more complex than mere romance. “I’ve never been wanted anywhere,” were her own words. She wanted to be wanted, beyond the eleven years she spent at her mother’s beck and call. She, before succumbing to Hill House’s desires, latched onto the strange friendship with Theo with the voracity of a drowning woman might grab a liferaft.
In the end, the draw of Hill House came to a catastrophic end only a week after Eleanor first set eyes on it.
I would have to honestly say that the opening/closing line seems to resound the loudest. The direct quote from the first and last pages is:
“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 wall 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, Shirley. The Haunting of Hill House. Penguin Books, 2018. Page 232
Was it engaging?
At times, but I also seemed to dislike Eleanor as much as she disliked herself.
I quite liked Luke; for all his faults he could apparently mix a good drink.