Friday, October 3, 2014

RIP IX Read-a-Long: THe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The House was vile. She shivered and thought, the words coming freely into her mind, Hill House is vile, it is diseased; get away from here at once.
Hello everybody! Today we are going to do this a bit different. It is my first Read-a-Long and so I would like to do the same analysis suggested at Estella's Society. Because of that this might have a bit of spoilers, so you've been warned. Let's start

1. Do you see Hill House’s horrors as being different for its male and female inhabitants? Any gender issues at play here? 

While I did see a difference between the horror's for each character I didn't necessarily feel that big of a gap according to gender. I think that we see more of the horrors that affected Eleanor and hence it might feel like the women are a bigger target, but I can't be sure of it with what I read.
2. What’s up with the ghostly disturbances in this book? Eleanor’s blooming telekinetic abilities, real-deal ghosties, a big mess of unreliable character? What say you? 

In my head, Eleanor was an easy target for the house, and is because of this that her "abilities"are heightened. I think she was portrayed not only as a fragile person but also a very sensible one, so she was meant to be more "receptive" to the influences of the house. As for the ghosties, there were several moments when I felt anxious because I didn't know what was going to appear next for them.

3. The Haunting of Hill House was first published in 1959. What aspects of 1950s culture or society do you see the novel critiquing, criticizing, or commenting on? 

I guess this would be the only referral that I got about gender differences. The women depicted are very 50s, in the sense that they are portrayed as helpless, without the men...until Mrs Montague appears. She didn't feel to me as a damsel in distress, but as an sarcastic woman trying to disprove her husband's methods.

Another way I think the 50s society is criticized and even made fun off is through Arthur, the way he refers to his "boys" at school, and his education methods.

4. Most Gothic novels are written in an ornate style, but Jackson chooses a simplistic style with a conversational word choice. What does it add to this harrowing tale? Do you find that it detracts in some places? 

For me this was a better style to put you on the edge, because everything is going fine, they are having dinner, and then all of the sudden you are on a scary section, so you don't have time to prepare yourself to be scared.  The way she constructed her dialogues also reminded me of the character in the movie Clue, and that was a fun movie!

5. The Big One: what is it about Hill House that allows it to consume Eleanor’s sanity so efficiently? Or, what is it about Eleanor that allows Hill House to consumer her sanity? 

By the time Eleanor arrives to Hill House she is already very unstable; taking care of her mother for years has left her with very little ability to interact with others and she has forgotten to take care of herself. Add to that moving with her atrocious sister and her husband that do nothing but undermine her in every possible way and you get someone desperate to find refuge and to find herself. 

When confronted to the house she is the one that is in an already delicate place, and the little pushes the house keeps giving her, plus the unhealthy relationship that grows with Theodora bring her to the end...literally.

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