The Haunting of Hill House


Shirley Jackson

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Themes and Colors
The Supernatural vs. The Psychological  Theme Icon
The Search for Home Theme Icon
Fear and Dissociation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Haunting of Hill House, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Supernatural vs. The Psychological

A war exists at the heart of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House—a war between supernatural and psychological phenomena. At the start of the novel, a group of individuals with psychic sensitivities is recruited by anthropologist—and closet parapsychologist—Doctor Montague to spend a summer at the “evil” mansion, delving into the house’s terrifying mysteries as part of an experiment which Montague hopes will validate his research in the field of paranormal activity…

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The Search for Home

Hill House is an enormous, oddly constructed manor whose seclusion from society, odd angles, labyrinth-like layout, and disturbing history all make it a decidedly inhospitable home. Still, the characters who venture there to study the house’s mysteries and discover its secrets all have one thing in common: they are looking for a sense of home and belonging. As Doctor Montague, Eleanor Vance, Luke Sanderson, and Theodora play house inside of their haunted…

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Fear and Dissociation

Throughout The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson creates a palpable atmosphere of fear. As she builds terror and dread, Jackson examines the effects of prolonged bouts of fear on her four main characters—Eleanor, Doctor Montague, Luke, and Theodora—and, in so doing, ultimately suggests that the state of being acutely afraid over such an extended period of time creates an effect of dissociation or depersonalization, rendering individuals strangers to themselves…

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All of the characters in The Haunting of Hill House are isolated in their own ways—so, too, is the remote and looming manor at the center of the action. As she examines the effects of both physical and emotional isolation throughout the novel, Shirley Jackson ultimately suggests that true loneliness is the most terrifying force on earth—and more deserving of fear than even the strangest, most bone-chilling experiences with the supernatural.

Eleanor Vance is a…

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