The Haunting of Hill House

by

Shirley Jackson

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Doctor John Montague Character Analysis

Doctor John Montague is an anthropologist with a secret passion for parapsychology—the study of supernatural psychic phenomena. Hoping to quietly advance his research away from the prying eyes of his judgmental colleagues, Doctor Montague rents the famed haunted mansion of Hill House for the summer and invites several people from around the country who have, through magazine articles and other records, come to his attention as people with psychic sensitivities. The only two to actually show up for the experiment are Eleanor Vance and Theodora, who join Montague and Luke Sanderson, who stands to inherit Hill House, at the imposing manor. Doctor Montague is clearly fascinated with and knowledgeable about the dark history of Hill House, and he is determined to get to the bottom of its mysteries both for his own personal satisfaction and his professional glory. Montague is a kind and mild man who seems to genuinely enjoy the company of his three companions at Hill House. Though he’s brought them there to draw out the house’s disturbances, he never uses them as bait or exploits their suffering—anytime there is a disturbance, or the sense that one is about to begin, Montague actually tries to shelter his companions and bring them all together so that they can offer one another solace. Doctor Montague also seems to be dominated in his personal life by his wife, Mrs. Montague, who joins the experiment late in the novel and refuses to value the work he has done. Doctor Montague goes on to publish an article about Hill House after the fraught conclusion of his experiment there—but it is poorly received, and he retires from scholarly life. Doctor Montague’s arc embodies several of the novel’s major themes—the pain of isolation, the search for home, and the delicate dance between the world of the supernatural and the world of the psychological.

Doctor John Montague Quotes in The Haunting of Hill House

The The Haunting of Hill House quotes below are all either spoken by Doctor John Montague or refer to Doctor John Montague. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Haunting of Hill House published in 1959.
Chapter 3 Quotes

When they were silent for a moment the quiet weight of the house pressed down from all around them. Eleanor, wondering if she were really here at all, and not dreaming of Hill House from some safe spot impossibly remote, looked slowly and carefully around the room, telling herself that this was real, these things existed, from the tiles around the fireplace to the marble cupid; these people were going to be her friends.

Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 42-43
Explanation and Analysis:

The doctor sighed again. “Suppose,” he said slowly, “you heard the story of Hill House and decided not to stay. How would you leave, tonight?” He looked around at them again, quickly. “The gates are locked. Hill House has a reputation for insistent hospitality; it seemingly dislikes letting its guests get away. The last person who tried to leave Hill House in darkness—it was eighteen years ago, I grant you—was killed at the turn in the driveway, where his horse bolted and crushed him against the big tree. Suppose I tell you about Hill House, and one of you wants to leave? Tomorrow, at least, we could see that you got safely to the village.”

Related Characters: Doctor John Montague (speaker), Eleanor Vance, Theodora, Luke Sanderson
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

“Certainly there are spots which inevitably attach to themselves an atmosphere of holiness and goodness; it might not then be too fanciful to say that some houses are born bad. Hill House, whatever the cause, has been unfit for human habitation for upwards of twenty years. What it was like before then, whether its personality was molded by the people who lived here, or the things they did, or whether it was evil from its start are all questions I cannot answer.”

Related Characters: Doctor John Montague (speaker), Eleanor Vance, Theodora, Luke Sanderson
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 50-51
Explanation and Analysis:

“It was accepted locally that she had chosen suicide because her guilty conscience drove her to it. I am more inclined to believe that she was one of those tenacious, unclever young women who can hold on desperately to what they believe is their own but cannot withstand, mentally, a constant nagging persecution; she had certainly no weapons to fight back against the younger sister’s campaign of hatred, her own friends in the village had been turned against her, and she seems to have been maddened by the conviction that locks and bolts could not keep out the enemy who stole into her house at night—”

“She should have gone away,” Eleanor said. “Left the house and run as far as she could go.”

“In effect, she did.”

Related Characters: Eleanor Vance (speaker), Doctor John Montague (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

“I think we are all incredibly silly to stay. I think that an atmosphere like this one can find out the flaws and faults and weaknesses in all of us, and break us apart in a matter of days. We have only one defense, and that is running away. At least it can’t follow us, can it? When we feel ourselves endangered we can leave, just as we came. And,” he added dryly, “just as fast as we can go. […] Promise me absolutely that you will leave, as fast as you can, if you begin to feel the house catching at you.”

“I promise,” Eleanor said, smiling.

Related Characters: Eleanor Vance (speaker), Doctor John Montague (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

“We must take precautions,” he said.

“Against what? How?”

“When Luke and I are called outside, and you two are kept imprisoned inside, doesn’t it begin to seem”—and his voice was very quiet—“doesn’t it begin to seem that the intention is, somehow, to separate us?”

Related Characters: Doctor John Montague (speaker), Theodora (speaker), Eleanor Vance, Luke Sanderson
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

“When I am afraid, I can see perfectly the sensible, beautiful not-afraid side of the world, I can see chairs and tables and windows staying the same, not affected in the least, and I can see things like the careful woven texture of the carpet, not even moving. But when I am afraid I no longer exist in any relation to these things. I suppose because things are not afraid.”

“I think we are only afraid of ourselves,” the doctor said slowly.

“No,” Luke said. “Of seeing ourselves clearly and without disguise.”

“Of knowing what we really want,” Theodora said. She pressed her cheek against Eleanor’s hand and Eleanor, hating the touch of her, took her hand away quickly.

Related Characters: Eleanor Vance (speaker), Doctor John Montague (speaker), Theodora (speaker), Luke Sanderson (speaker)
Page Number: 117-118
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

“I must say, John, I never expected to find you all so nervous," Mrs. Montague said. “I deplore fear in these matters.” She tapped her foot irritably. “You know perfectly well, John, that those who have passed beyond expect to see us happy and smiling; they want to know that we are thinking of them lovingly. The spirits dwelling in this house may be actually suffering because they are aware that you are afraid of them.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Montague (speaker), Doctor John Montague
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“And your night?” the doctor asked timidly. “Did you spend a—ah—profitable night?”

“If by profitable you meant comfortable, John, I wish you would say so. No, in answer to your most civil inquiry, I did not spend a comfortable night. I did not sleep a wink. That room is unendurable.”

“Noisy old house, isn’t it?” Arthur said. “Branch kept tapping against my window all night; nearly drove me crazy, tapping and tapping.”

Related Characters: Doctor John Montague (speaker), Mrs. Montague (speaker), Arthur Parker (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 152-153
Explanation and Analysis:

She heard the little melody fade, and felt the slight movement of air as the footsteps came close to her, and something almost brushed her face; perhaps there was a tiny sigh against her cheek, and she turned in surprise. Luke and the doctor bent over the chessboard, Arthur leaned confidingly close to Theodora, and Mrs. Montague talked.

None of them heard it, she thought with joy; nobody heard it but me.

Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Dancing, the carpet soft under her feet, she came to the door behind which Theodora slept; faithless Theo, she thought, cruel, laughing Theo, wake up, wake up, wake up, and pounded and slapped the door, laughing, and shook the doorknob and then ran swiftly down the hall to Luke’s door and pounded; wake up, she thought, wake up and be faithless. None of them will open their doors, she thought; they will sit inside, with the blankets pressed around them, shivering and wondering what is going to happen to them next; wake up, she thought, pounding on the doctor’s door; I dare you to open your door and come out to see me dancing in the hall of Hill House.

Related Characters: Eleanor Vance (speaker), Doctor John Montague, Theodora, Luke Sanderson
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

“Go away, Eleanor, you can’t stay here; but I can,” she sang, “but I can; they don’t make the rules around here. They can’t turn me out […]; I won’t go, and Hill House belongs to me.”

With what she perceived as quick cleverness she pressed her foot down hard on the accelerator… [...] I am really doing it, she thought, turning the wheel to send the car directly at the great tree at the curve of the driveway, I am really doing it, I am doing this all by myself, now, at last; this is me, I am really really really doing it by myself.

In the unending, crashing second before the car hurled into the tree she thought clearly, Why am I doing this? Why am I doing this? Why don’t they stop me?

Related Characters: Eleanor Vance (speaker), Doctor John Montague, Theodora, Luke Sanderson
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 181-182
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Haunting of Hill House PDF

Doctor John Montague Character Timeline in The Haunting of Hill House

The timeline below shows where the character Doctor John Montague appears in The Haunting of Hill House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Doctor John Montague is a Doctor of Philosophy in anthropology who secretly harbors a desire to study and... (full context)
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...evidence of a poltergeist in the house—for this reason, Eleanor has wound up on Doctor Montague’s list. (full context)
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Eleanor receives Montague’s invitation with glee—all her life, she has been waiting for something exciting to happen to... (full context)
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Theodora, a psychic who goes by her first name only, also accepts Doctor Montague’s invitation with excitement. She is renowned for her ability to identify nineteen out of twenty... (full context)
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...own independence. As she leaves the city limits, she pulls out a letter from Doctor Montague which contains detailed directions to Hill House. The directions specify that anyone travelling to Hill... (full context)
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...countryside, but is ultimately forced to admit that her curiosity about the house and Doctor Montague is driving her forward. As Eleanor passes a large and beautiful house with stone lions... (full context)
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...is and what she wants. She insists she’s been invited to Hill House by Doctor Montague, but the man at the gate taunts her, and refuses to let her in. He... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...seen a rabbit. Eleanor suggests they hurry back up to the house in case Doctor Montague and the others have arrived. As they walk back, Eleanor pauses, and tells Theodora that... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...a member of the family who owns the property. Luke tells the girls that Doctor Montague is inside, exploring the “haunted house.” Theodora looks around at how dark it’s become, and... (full context)
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Doctor Montague, Eleanor, Theodora, and Luke retire to the dim, firelit study, where Luke fixes them all... (full context)
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...a transient. Theodora claims to be the daughter of a great, rich lord, and Doctor Montague declares himself a “pilgrim” who wanders the earth. (full context)
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Montague states that tomorrow, the four of them will get to exploring the house room by... (full context)
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...that she can get at a secret underground chamber full of treasures and jewels. Doctor Montague insists there are no secret chambers at Hill House—the others ask why they are here,... (full context)
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Doctor Montague confesses that he knows little more about the house than any of the others—he promises... (full context)
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After the meal, the group gathers in the little study again, and Doctor Montague sips a glass of brandy. He admits that he is nervous to tell them all... (full context)
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Doctor Montague begins describing this history of Hill House. He states that “the concept of certain houses... (full context)
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Montague says that he has summoned Eleanor and Theodora because of their psychic sensitivities—Theodora has telepathic... (full context)
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Theodora asks what could truly live in the house that frightens people so—Doctor Montague replies that he does not want to “put a name to what has no name.”... (full context)
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Doctor Montague pours himself another drink and tells the group more about Hill House. He explains that... (full context)
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...been spotted frequently inside the house at nights, making off with “her” heirlooms. This, Doctor Montague states, is potential evidence of the house’s powers. (full context)
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...house, nor did she ever send anyone to burgle Hill House. At the conclusion of Montague’s horrible tale, Luke remarks jovially that he thinks they’ll all be “very comfortable here.” (full context)
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Eleanor begins growing sleepy. The others discuss what games they could play. Montague says there’s a chess set in another room, and goes out to get it. When... (full context)
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Everyone is sleepy, and they decide to head upstairs together. Montague announces his intent to read for an hour or so before bed, and offers to... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...to the first floor, they have to try several doors and call for Luke and Montague before they open the right one and find the men inside, eating at the table.... (full context)
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...feels awful for the poor little Crain girls who were forced to grow up here. Montague points out the house’s odd features, like the verandah that wraps all the way around,... (full context)
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After lunch, Montague suggests that everyone take some time to rest in their rooms. Eleanor and Theodora, though,... (full context)
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...group reunites. Luke admits that he is decidedly not looking forward to inheriting Hill House. Montague leads the group down the hall to the nursery, which is a cold spot—as she... (full context)
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...As Luke and Theodora converse lightly and jokingly, Eleanor cannot shake a sense of dread. Montague notices she is nervous and admits that he is, too—they discuss the feeling that “something... (full context)
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...grows closer, and Eleanor believes she can hear the distant sounds of Luke and Doctor Montague calling her name. As the knocking grows louder, Eleanor runs to the door and shouts... (full context)
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...on the bed as the cold dissipates. The episode is over, and they can hear Montague and Luke calling for them down the hall. Theodora opens the door for them; Luke... (full context)
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Montague remarks that whatever presence was making so much noise against the door to Theodora’s room... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...where they greet everyone happily. Luke, too, is in a sunny mood, and only Doctor Montague looks drawn and tired. Despite his appearance, he is excited and thrilled by the previous... (full context)
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...dining room and announces that it is ten o’clock—time for her to clear the table. Montague asks if they can sit at the table another fifteen minutes or so, but Mrs.... (full context)
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...writing away with his handkerchief. Back in the parlor, Eleanor, paralyzed with fear, cries to Montague that the house knows her name. She begs Theodora to say she wrote it as... (full context)
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...Theodora suggests that Eleanor wrote the letters herself, and the two begin quarreling quite viciously. Montague, after a minute or two, suggests that Theodora tried to make Eleanor angry in order... (full context)
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...has befallen them so far. The next morning, the group’s third morning in Hill House, Montague and Luke try to measure the cold spot while Eleanor and Theodora take notes for... (full context)
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...into the room to see what it says. Eleanor suggests they call for Luke and Montague; Theodora implies that Eleanor is responsible for the damage, asking if she doesn’t want to... (full context)
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...find that all her clothes are torn and stained with blood. Eleanor calls calmly for Montague and Luke, who come upstairs to find Theodora sobbing and kicking on the floor of... (full context)
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Eleanor urges Montague and Luke to take Theodora into Eleanor’s own room to get her away from the... (full context)
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...room where she helps Theodora clean blood off her face and hands. Theodora laments to Montague that she and Eleanor will have to share a room and clothes—they’ll be, she says,... (full context)
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The group muses on the nature of fear—Montague posits that people are only afraid of themselves, and Luke adds that what people truly... (full context)
Chapter 6
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While Montague and Luke play chess, Theodora teases Eleanor about whether she’ll invite Luke over to her... (full context)
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...at the house. They crash through a back door into the kitchen, where Luke and Montague are waiting for them. The doctor says he and Luke have been searching for Theodora... (full context)
Chapter 7
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It is Saturday—the day Mrs. Montague is expected to arrive. Eleanor goes alone into the hills, wanting to be alone and... (full context)
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Late that evening, Mrs. Montague arrives with her friend, Arthur Parker. Doctor Montague rushes to greet her, and excitedly introduces... (full context)
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Mrs. Montague begins chiding her husband for having done no work with a planchette or automatic writing... (full context)
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As Mrs. Montague and Arthur head into the dining room to fix themselves some dinner, she rails against... (full context)
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Luke, Theodora, Eleanor, and Doctor Montague gather in the parlor, and the doctor begins explaining how planchette works. A device similar... (full context)
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Sometime later, Mrs. Montague and Arthur join the group in the parlor, where they announce that the planchette has... (full context)
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Mrs. Montague pulls out some papers from her automatic writing session and reads them aloud. Apparently, the... (full context)
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...he will patrol the house with his revolver so that everyone can sleep soundly. Mrs. Montague assures the group that the spirits of the house want only to “tell their stories”... (full context)
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...The girls wait a minute before tiptoeing town the hall to meet with Luke and Montague. Once they’re all together, the doctor announces that he believes something is going to happen... (full context)
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...quiet, and sunlight is coming in through the window. Theodora is leaning over her, and Montague has been to check on his wife and Arthur, who are “sleeping like babies.” Eleanor... (full context)
Chapter 8
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At the end of breakfast the next morning, the group worries that Mrs. Montague and Arthur, still sleeping soundly, will miss breakfast. Eleanor, though, assures them that their guests... (full context)
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Doctor Montague asks his wife how her night was—Mrs. Montague says she didn’t sleep a wink due... (full context)
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...then the two of them wonder if they’ll appear as characters in the book Doctor Montague will write about Hill House. Eleanor listens as the two of them decide to go... (full context)
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Inside, Eleanor listens at the library door as Arthur pesters Montague with inane observations about the house as the doctor tries to write his notes. She... (full context)
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...alighting on the roof. The only room she cannot hear is the library, where Mrs. Montague and Arthur are holed up, doing planchette. (full context)
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Mrs. Montague bursts through the parlor door, incensed because she has not been able to get the... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...the cold spot at the door has disappeared. Eleanor bangs on the door, and Mrs. Montague answers, telling “whatever” is out there to feel free to come in. Eleanor decides not... (full context)
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Eleanor hears Theodora calling for her, and then shouting to Luke and Doctor Montague that she’s gone missing. Eleanor runs back down the stairs, hearing the others’ voices behind... (full context)
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Doctor Montague urges Eleanor to come down the staircase carefully—it has rotted away from the wall, and... (full context)
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Mrs. Montague remarks that Eleanor’s “childish nonsense” has “destroyed any chance of manifestations” for the evening, and... (full context)
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...all pass her food politely. Eleanor notices that Theodora is wearing her red sweater. Doctor Montague tells Eleanor that she has to leave—Luke is going to bring her car around, and... (full context)
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Mrs. Montague speaks up and says she’s examined Theodora’s room—it is totally clean, and all of Theodora’s... (full context)
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Mrs. Montague suggests someone should drive Eleanor home to the city, but Doctor Montague says that to... (full context)
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...been waiting for her and her alone—“no one else [can] satisfy it.” Eleanor begs Doctor Montague to see that the house wants her to stay, but he urges her into her... (full context)
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Montague helps Eleanor into her car, even as she clutches at his arms and begs him... (full context)
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After Eleanor’s suicide, Doctor Montague and his party vacate Hill House. Theodora returns home to her apartment and her roommate.... (full context)