Book Report - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Book Report


"The Haunting of Hill House" was written by Shirley Jackson. Although it was completed in 1959 it was not published until 1987 by the Robinson Publishing Ltd in the UK.

The story takes place in Hill House, which was built by Hugh Crain who had planned it himself. Because of the bewildering structure of the house everyone gets quite confused after spending some nights there. So nobody lived in it for eighty years. Hill House was meant to be luxurious, but actually it was cold and dark. And all the inhabitants of Hillsdale which is about 8 miles away are afraid of the haunted house that has seen so many awful things. The Dudleys take care of Hill House but they always leave before night falls.  

Dr Montague hears about Hill House and wants to use it for a research on haunting. So he invites Eleanor and Theodora, who have both had contact with paranormal happenings,  as he found out, to help him explore Hill House. Luke belongs to the family that owned Hill House and he has to watch the research. In the beginning everything seems to be all right but then the haunting begins in the second night. As time goes on everything appears to happen around Eleanor and soon the situation gets out of control after Mrs Montague has arrived with her friend Arthur. So the group decides to send Eleanor away to save her but she drives her car against the next tree and nearly dies. Before long the others leave Hill House

too, and thus it is left alone for another eighty years.

Eleanor is a thirty four-year-old woman who has spent her whole life helping her tyrannical mother until she died. She is a very shy woman and is always afraid of how others think about her. She does not know where she belongs to and so she accepts the invitation to Hill House.

Theodora is a lovely, very friendly and wealthy woman who has come to Hill House to escape from a love affair. She is humorous and knows very well how to treat men.

Luke is actually a liar and a thief, so his family tells him to watch Dr Montague because he cannot do anything wrong there. But at Hill House he is a very nice young man who gets along very well with the others.

Dr Montague is a very friendly man who actually does not use his authority until the end. He helps the others wherever he can and for someone can't understand reason he loves his dominant wife.

Mrs Montague is a terrible person. She behaves like a princess and treats everyone like a servant and nobody knows how her husband can bear her. She also thinks that she has kind of paranormal talents and all the others have to believe her.

Arthur is a less important friend of Mrs Montague's, who drives the car for her and agrees to everything she says.

Mr and Mrs Dudley take care of Hill House for a long time. They always leave before night comes over Hill House and the only thing they do is what they have agreed to do.

Shirley Jackson writes in a very interesting way so that you can read the whole book at once. She likes to repeat herself very much so you will find some phrases all over the book but it does not matter at all. Actually this is what gives the book its mysterious touch.

The book is divided into 9 chapters, of which the first three form the introduction and kind of preparation: Hill House not seems to be haunted.

The following pages describe the haunting and the final pages depict the haunting at its worst: gets out of control and therefore the group decides that is too dangerous to stay on.

I think that the author of this book, Shirley Jackson, wants to explain that haunting does not mean ghosts or monsters walking around. Haunting is cold air or knocking on doors that seems to come from nowhere and in morning you do not really know what happened at night.

I think this book is wonderful. I like the way it is written very much because the repeating of some phrases makes the story interesting and authentical. "The Haunting of Hill House" is exciting because it is not at all what the reader expects it to be. You can never really know what will happen next because the story can change every minute and it actually does a lot of times. The book keeps being exciting until the end.

But what about the story itself? It is really strange but this is what it is actually supposed to be. There are only some characters in the book, but each of them is really different to from the others so that it must have been very hard for the author to let them agree on several points without making them appear unrealistic. 

One of the things I likes best is that the author does not write what there really happened in Hill House. I think this is very thrilling for the reader. The story does not have an ending. I think the story cannot have an ending because the main character of the book is neighter Eleanor nor Dr Montague nor anyone else. It is the house that has not changed at all standing alone against the hills for eighty years and perhaps for eighty more years without its mystery being solved. 


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