The Haunting of Hill House

by Andrea Elizabeth


Despite my favorite words, (phenomenology, epistemology, Derrida) being employed in this article, which contains spoilers, as will the following, I found the only increased understanding in the proposed Jungian interpretation of the above novel is that perhaps there is less that separates us from each other, dead people, and material objects, than we think. This leads us, however un-discussed, except in the novel, to more of a separation from ourselves.

Another thought I have about this book is: what if the house and Eleanor are indeed one, and the author, if this is semi-autobiographical, which other articles suggest, believes herself dangerous. Others are curious about her, but others also seem, from Eleanor’s point of view, unworthy of her. They have all betrayed her, as her mother did. And perhaps she subconsciously killed her mother. Perhaps she will kill them. Perhaps they killed her. It is a deeply pessimistic point of view. But what if it’s right.

I have heard Orthodoxy explained as shining a light, dim at first, on our sins, because we would not be able to bear the sight of all of them at once. What if Shirley Jackson was aware of the sins of others and herself? Here is what Wikipedia says about her death at age 48:

In 1965, Jackson died of heart failure in her sleep, at her home in North Bennington, at the age of 48.[15] She was overweight and a heavy smoker who had for years suffered health problems related to the two issues. Near the end of her life, Jackson was seeing a psychiatrist for severe anxiety, which had kept her housebound for nearly the whole of the previous year. The doctor prescribed barbiturates, at that time considered a safe, harmless drug. For many years prior, she also had periodic prescriptions for amphetamines for weight loss, which may have inadvertently aggravated her anxiety, leading to a cycle of prescription drug abuse using the two medications to counteract each other’s effects. Any of these factors, or a combination of all of them, may have contributed to her declining health and early death.

I will not attempt to lecture her on what she should have done, but as always, I do wonder where these geniuses would have gone if they’d been Orthodox. I no longer think that a cure is inevitable in this life in the Church, but perhaps a better context for these phenomena.