Shirley Jacksons The Haunting of Hill House tells the story of Dr. Montague, a professor studying the supernatural. After inviting Eleanor, Theodora, and Luke to stay at Hill House and participate in his study, weird occurrences begin to happen. Loud noises are heard at night, sections of the house are deathly cold, and strange writing is found on one of the walls. The house appears to come alive, slowly devouring those that inhabit it until it eventually claims one of their lives in a climatic ending.
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Jackson’s novel contains gothic elements yet subverts the gothic genre because of the lack of physical violence. Instead Jackson relies on psychological issues and psyche to scare her readers in the Haunting of Hill House. The three prominent gothic elements are grotesque characters, characterisation and supernatural and inexplicable events. Bram stokers three gothic elements used are supernatural and inexplicable events and grotesque characters and characterisation. Shirley and Stoker created a similar scene in which both the novels are set in a castle or old mansion.
Draculas castle despite its age is a solid building which encompasses a lot of contextual history.. When Jonathan Harker arrives at the castle he states “ I became conscience of the fact that the driver was pulling up in a courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the sky” immediately this gives us an image of the old castle and hints that something may not be right.
The castle itself Is hundreds of years old and has many hidden rooms and passage ways which adds fuel to the mystery of the building itself. The Haunting of Hill House is set in an eighty year old mansion secluded from any civilisation. the protagonist of the novel Eleanor describes the house when she arrives as “vile and diseased”. The house itself is an active antagonist and main character. The architectural design creates a sense that the house has physical attributions which emanates an effect of real life emotions in an otherwise inanimate and lifeless object. disturbed, leprous and sick” is how Eleanor described the house. Jacksons attempts to make the house have its own personality and personify it are proven when she writes “ the house is arrogant and hating…without kindness”. The use of characterisation allows Jackson to make the actual hill house a main character. The house is also what helps edge the novel into the gothic category as haunted houses and castles are major part of any gothic novel. Personification is what makes the house come to life.
The house is described to have windows as eyes, and is peaceful in the day time but when the sky fades to black awakens from its dormant state. Dracula has red eyes sharp teeth, inhumane strength, his extremely fast, can master many disguises he has hairy palms and is cold at the touch. Dracula himself is an example of the use of grotesque characterisation due to his vampire nature. Count Dracula has inhumane speed agility and strength. He has hair on his palms and can scale down a wall. Jonathan states “ As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me… horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal. ” This statement proves that Dracula causes uneasiness around people and isn’t someone who radiates kindness. He is also a master of disguise and can control the children of the night. Mr and Mrs Dudley from the haunting of Hill House also fit in the element grotesque characterisation. Mr Dudley is first introduced to the reader when Eleanor stops at the gate outside of the house. The couple are mean, unfriendly, strict and foreboding all at once.
Mr Dudley acts very ominous, warning Eleanor by stating things like, “I just want to be sure you know what’s waiting for you in there,” and “you won’t like it, you’ll be sorry I ever opened that gate,”. Mrs Dudley, whom Eleanor meets inside, is even more ominous than her husband. She tells Eleanor, “I don’t stay after I set out dinner, not after it begins to get dark. I leave before dark comes. We live over in the town; six miles away…there won’t be anyone around if you need help. ” Mrs Dudley then says, “We couldn’t even hear you, in the night. No one could. No one lives any nearer than town.
No one else will come any nearer than that, In the night, In the dark”). Mr and Mrs Dudleys cryptic warnings can be seen as foreshadowing of the future dangers to come. Mr and Mrs Dudley play the parts of the traditional gothic caretakers who know all of the secrets and stories that the households. The house symbolises Eleanor’s troubled unconscious state of mind. The house is symbolic for Eleanor’s seclusion and loneliness from the outside world. They both stand alone with no one around. The hills that envelop the house represent the outside world, and the pressure for Eleanor to take a mature look at her in-harmonic life.