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Analysis of Gothic Elements in The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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In the novel, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson she presents gothic elements by explaining gruesome and off-putting elements which creates an uneasy and unpleasant feeling for the reader. This appears by the personification the house is given and how the house gives off a dark vibe. It’s mentioned how at the house no one can hear you which lets the reader know something is off about the place. With all this put together in the book it shows how much gothic elements can turn a story to an unpleasant but great work of literature.

The Hill House is introduced as a house with supposed paranormal activities and a dark history. Some examples of the dark history are the suicide scandals. There are stories of people who commit suicide for no apparent reason. One theory for the cause of these deaths is that the house is the cause of these unfortunate deaths. “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?, in this quote when Eleanor, one of the main characters, kills herself its shown how something influenced it. Once she realized truly how horrific the house is and tries to leave, she crashes her car into a tree. In the quote it shows how before she crashed she was wondering why she was doing it before she reached her inevitable death. Her death is identical to the one of the past deaths of Hill House, which shows something paranormal is affecting them.

Throughout the novel, the Hill House is described in such a way that instantly sets an uneasy mood for the reader. Once Eleanor arrives at Hill House during the beginning of the book, it’s described in a way that makes it sound like the house itself is a living being. The house is described as having features similar to a castle from the medieval ages. It is described as “enormous and dark”. It is also said to have “blank windows” and it has a sense of watchfulness. These are only a fraction of the details given in the book that helps create an unsettling and puzzling atmosphere.

Gothic elements are mainly used to describe the setting of the story. The house is described how its built off center and the support is off center which is another way that contributes to how the house has a strange feeling. Eleanor’s room that she was introduced to when she arrived, is described as being all blue and being crooked. This can be reflected off of Eleanor’s mental state. The room being blue can be reflected off her first feeling on the inside. “Blue” meaning sad and lonely which could be because of the recent events that happened at her house. The room being crooked could be connected to how Eleanor’s mentality is mixed and twisted. With this and knowing the story is being told from Eleanor’s perspective makes you wonder whether this was paranormal or if it was all in Eleanor’s head.

In conclusion, Shirley Jackson employs gothic elements everywhere throughout the story giving it a dark, strange feeling. The gothic elements support writing literature as a scary, horror novel by making it more engrossing to read. These elements help build up the tension and the suspense in the story, instead of just random deaths happening throughout the story, it climaxes to the shocking ending of the story. With this being said as you read the novel it emits an uncomfortable feeling and fear as it arrives to the resolution of the story. Gothic elements in the novel truly show its full potential and contributes to creating the riveting story that is The Haunting of Hill House.

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Analysis of Gothic Elements in the Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
“Analysis of Gothic Elements in the Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
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