The Haunting of Hill House

by

Shirley Jackson

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Theodora is a young and beautiful bohemian who lives with a female roommate in an unnamed city and is summoned to Hill House by Doctor Montague because of her reputation for psychic sensitivity. She is rumored to be able to guess the faces of cards when they are held up out of her sight and hearing, and Doctor Montague hopes that her apparent clairvoyance will bring out the presence that haunts Hill House. Theodora is flirtatious, light-hearted, and open-minded, and she and Eleanor bond right away over their many similarities—though it’s unclear whether each of them is really telling the truth. Though Theodora refers to her female roommate as a “friend,” it’s implied that the two may actually be romantically or sexually involved. As with so much else in the novel, the truth of Theodora’s past—and even her present—is shadowed and uncertain, but what is clear is that Theodora’s attachment to Eleanor, and vice versa, becomes the primary source of tension and suffering for each of them in spite of the terror all around them. Their relationship arc is emblematic of several of the novel’s major themes and theories—that isolation, lack of connection, and the recesses of the human mind are all more frightening than supernatural or paranormal horrors. Glamorous, spiteful, fickle, and emotional, Theodora is Eleanor’s perfect foil. The women orbit one another, drawing closer until they ultimately cause each other’s suffering and confusion within Hill House to escalate—perhaps, it’s implied, past the point of no return, and into the realm of madness.

Theodora Quotes in The Haunting of Hill House

The The Haunting of Hill House quotes below are all either spoken by Theodora or refer to Theodora. 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:
Chapter 4 Quotes

“I hate having things done to me.”

“You’re about as crazy as anyone I ever saw,” Theodora said cheerfully.

“I don’t like to feel helpless,” Eleanor said. “My mother—”

“Your mother would have been delighted to see you with your toenails painted red,” Theodora said. “They look nice.”

Eleanor looked at her feet again. “It’s wicked,” she said inadequately. “I mean—on my feet. It makes me feel like I look like a fool.”

Related Characters: Eleanor Vance (speaker), Theodora (speaker)
Page Number: 86
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

Somewhere there was a great, shaking crash… […] Eleanor heard the laughter over all, coming thin and lunatic, rising in its little crazy tune, and thought, No; it is over for me. It is too much, she thought, I will relinquish my possession of this self of mine, abdicate, give over willingly what I never wanted at all; whatever it wants of me it can have.

“I’ll come,” she said aloud, and was speaking up to Theodora, who leaned over her. The room was perfectly quiet, and between the still curtains at the window she could see the sunlight.

Related Characters: Eleanor Vance (speaker), Theodora
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

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:

“I haven’t any apartment,” she said to Theodora. “I made it up. I sleep on a cot at my sister’s, in the baby’s room. I haven’t any home, no place at all.” […] She laughed, hearing her own words, so inadequate and so unutterably sad. […] “So you see there’s no place you can send me.”

I could, of course, go on and on, she wanted to tell them, seeing always their frightened, staring faces. I could go on and on, leaving my clothes for Theodora; I could go wandering and homeless, errant, and I would always come back here. It would be simpler to let me stay, more sensible, she wanted to tell them, happier.

Related Characters: Eleanor Vance (speaker), Theodora, Carrie
Related Symbols: Hill House
Page Number: 177
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:
Get the entire The Haunting of Hill House LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Haunting of Hill House PDF

Theodora Character Timeline in The Haunting of Hill House

The timeline below shows where the character Theodora appears in The Haunting of Hill House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Theodora, a psychic who goes by her first name only, also accepts Doctor Montague’s invitation with... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Eleanor runs downstairs to greet the new arrival—a woman who introduces herself as Theodora. Despite having just set foot in the house, Theodora is clearly already experiencing the same... (full context)
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
After Mrs. Dudley leaves, Eleanor shows Theodora her room, and the two discuss how hungry they are. Despite how “terrible” the house... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Eleanor and Theodora step out onto the veranda and take in the expansive grounds of Hill House. The... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...Hill House grounds. As the girls discuss their childhoods, they find similarities their lives have shared—Theodora jokingly declares them “cousins.” The girls’ laughter is cut short, though, when Theodora spots something... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
As Eleanor and Theodora arrive back at Hill House, it is nearly dark. The women spot a man waiting... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Doctor Montague, Eleanor, Theodora, and Luke retire to the dim, firelit study, where Luke fixes them all drinks. Doctor... (full context)
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
...says she is an “artist’s model” who lives a “mad, abandoned life” as a transient. Theodora claims to be the daughter of a great, rich lord, and Doctor Montague declares himself... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...they all go see about dinner. As they make their way to the dining room, Theodora becomes disoriented by the dark, twisting hall. Montague, who has studied maps of the house... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
...group begins discussing the odd Mrs. Dudley and the fine table she’s laid for them, Theodora suspects that Mrs. Dudley feels Hill House “belongs” to her, and is waiting for all... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
...of the others—he promises to tell them his mission tomorrow, in daylight. Luke, Eleanor, and Theodora demand to know the story of Hill House, but Doctor Montague is reluctant to tell... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
...he knows about Hill House and color their perception of it or influence their minds. Theodora, however, suggests it’s the perfect time “for a ghost story.” The doctor warns Theodora not... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Montague says that he has summoned Eleanor and Theodora because of their psychic sensitivities—Theodora has telepathic abilities, and Eleanor has been “intimately involved in... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Theodora asks what could truly live in the house that frightens people so—Doctor Montague replies that... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
As the men play chess, Eleanor and Theodora sit by the fire and talk about their lives. Eleanor remembers feeling lonely as she... (full context)
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Eleanor asks Theodora about her life, and Theodora tells Eleanor about the bohemian apartment she shares with a... (full context)
Chapter 4
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
...soundly. She hears the water running in the bathroom, and calls out “good morning” to Theodora, who answers her sunnily and tells Eleanor she’s run a bath for her. Eleanor gets... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Eleanor washes herself and dresses, and then the two of them start downstairs. Theodora is worried they won’t even be able to find the dining room, and indeed when... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
As the group continues exploring the house, Theodora points out the odd architecture—she and Eleanor should be able to see the tower from... (full context)
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...in the sculpture, as well. The statue makes Eleanor want to cover her eyes, but Theodora is drawn to it, and even reaches out to touch it. There is a door... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
As Theodora and Eleanor look around the bright kitchen, they notice that there are over five doors... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...lunch, Montague suggests that everyone take some time to rest in their rooms. Eleanor and Theodora, though, unaccustomed to naps, spend the afternoon lounging on Theodora’s bed. Theodora paints her nails... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
...The nursery itself is warm, marked by an “indefinable air of neglect” that upsets Eleanor. Theodora pulls Eleanor out of the room, and the doctor and Luke follow. The doctor says... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...retreats to the parlor, which they have been working to make cozier. As Luke and Theodora converse lightly and jokingly, Eleanor cannot shake a sense of dread. Montague notices she is... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...she reaches for the lights. She remembers that she is at Hill House, and realizes Theodora is calling her. She walks through the bathroom to Theodora’s room, where Theodora is sitting... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...a moment, but the cold persists, and soon the noise starts up again. Eleanor warns Theodora that she might scream, and Theodora laughs. The two of them hold each other on... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Theodora and Eleanor hold each other on the bed as the cold dissipates. The episode is... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Montague remarks that whatever presence was making so much noise against the door to Theodora’s room could not be heard by him or Luke—they only came back inside when they... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
...purely joyful, and the refrain “Journeys end in lovers meeting” fills her head. Eleanor hears Theodora calling flirtatiously to Luke from her room, and then hears Theodora knock on her own... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Theodora and Eleanor race laughing down the stairs to the dining room, where they greet everyone... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...is chilled and frightened, and begs the others to wipe the writing off the walls. Theodora puts an arm around Eleanor and guides her back into the parlor while Luke begins... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Eleanor wonders why the house has chosen to taunt her. Theodora suggests that Eleanor wrote the letters herself, and the two begin quarreling quite viciously. Montague,... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...in Hill House, Montague and Luke try to measure the cold spot while Eleanor and Theodora take notes for them. After the miserable work is done, the doctor, over lunch, suggests... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
After lunch, Theodora and Eleanor head upstairs, planning to take naps. Shortly after entering her room, though, Eleanor... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
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Theodora runs into her room and opens up the wardrobe to find that all her clothes... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Eleanor urges Montague and Luke to take Theodora into Eleanor’s own room to get her away from the horrible smell. Eleanor wonders what... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Eleanor returns to her room where she helps Theodora clean blood off her face and hands. Theodora laments to Montague that she and Eleanor... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Later, in the parlor, Eleanor finds herself disturbed by cruel and even violent thoughts about Theodora. She is angry with Theodora for having accused her of being responsible for the writing—and... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
That night, another bed is moved into Eleanor’s room for Theodora. The two of them sit up in their pushed-together beds, holding hands—they can hear the... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
...blood to “bind” his daughter to the lessons within the tome. After finishing the book, Theodora curses Crain for writing a dirty book and building a dirty house. (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
While Montague and Luke play chess, Theodora teases Eleanor about whether she’ll invite Luke over to her apartment after they’re all done... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...come upon a widening of the path, they are simultaneously gripped by cold and fear. Theodora clutches Eleanor’s hand as the landscape seems to glow around them, threatening to consume them.... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Eleanor and Theodora run, holding hands all the way, and finally find themselves back at the house. They... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
...her friend, Arthur Parker. Doctor Montague rushes to greet her, and excitedly introduces her to Theodora, Eleanor, and Luke. It is after dark, and Mrs. Montague chastises the group for not... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
...warns her about their policy of not going outside at night, established after Eleanor and Theodora’s terrifying encounter. Mrs. Montague dismisses Luke as a coward, and so does Arthur; he heads... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Luke, Theodora, Eleanor, and Doctor Montague gather in the parlor, and the doctor begins explaining how planchette... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...wanted “home.” When Mrs. Montague asked the spirit why, it replied only “Mother.” Eleanor and Theodora listen in horror. Eleanor is miserable to have been “singled out again” by the presence... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Everyone bids one another goodnight and retreats to their separate rooms, but Theodora tells Eleanor to wait a minute and to not get undressed—Luke whispered to her earlier... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...try to comfort one another by making jokes about the hostility of their summer lodgings. Theodora even makes fun of the house for having “exhausted [its] repertoire,” and repeating the “pounding... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...the pounding begins again and the door shakes, seeming about to come off its hinges. Theodora tells herself, over and over, that the presence “can’t get in,” but Eleanor, freezing, feels... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...regains her senses, the room is 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,... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Later, Theodora and Eleanor are working on their diaries when Eleanor confesses that she’s not sure of... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Eleanor continues pestering Theodora, who suggests they go for a walk to get out of the house. Luke offers... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
As the path narrows, Eleanor takes the lead. As she walks, she believes Theodora and Luke are talking nastily about her behind her back. She grows lost in thought... (full context)
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
After lunch, Luke and Theodora spend some time outside together laughing in the grass. Eleanor follows them but stays hidden—she... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
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Later that evening, Luke compliments Theodora on how fine she looks in Eleanor’s clothes. Eleanor sits quietly alone, listening to “the... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
In the middle of the night, Eleanor rises from bed and leaves her and Theodora’s room quietly. She tiptoes through the halls so as not to disturb anyone, even as... (full context)
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The Search for Home Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
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Eleanor hears Theodora calling for her, and then shouting to Luke and Doctor Montague that she’s gone missing.... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
...to bed. Luke calls Eleanor an “imbecile” for climbing the stairs, and the doctor agrees. Theodora, too, chastises Eleanor for her foolishness. Eleanor replies only that she came down to the... (full context)
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...anything to Eleanor at breakfast, though they 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... (full context)
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Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
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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 clothes are “perfectly fine.” Theodora corroborates Mrs.... (full context)
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...He asks if she feels comfortable finding her own way home—Eleanor only laughs in response. Theodora goes upstairs to pack Eleanor’s things, and orders Luke to go get Eleanor’s car. (full context)
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...him to let her stay. He shuts her door and insists she leave. Eleanor calls Theodora over to the window, and Theodora tearfully urges Eleanor to get better. Theodora promises to... (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. Luke goes to Paris to stay a... (full context)