And so the old house has just been sitting here.” Luke put out a tentative finger and touched the marble cupid gingerly. “Nothing in it touched, nothing used, nothing here wanted by anyone any more, just sitting here thinking.”
“And waiting,” Eleanor said.
“And waiting,” the doctor confirmed. “Essentially, he went on slowly, “the evil is the house itself, I think. It has enchained and destroyed its people and their lives, it is a place of contained ill will. Well. Tomorrow you will see it all. The Sandersons put in electricity and plumbing and a telephone when they first thought to live here, but otherwise nothing has been changed.:
“Well,” Luke said after a little silence, “I’m sure we will all be very comfortable here.
Right. Very comfortable in a house where Dr. Montague has brought three assistants (Eleanor, Luke and Theodora) to help him analyze the ‘supernatural manifestations’ which might take place in this infamous house? Through Jackson’s talented writing, the reader knows darn well that no one is going to be comfortable, quite possibly even when the tale concludes.
The house takes on almost human characteristics. It breathes. It deceives. It wraps its inhabitants with a chilling cold. But, there is no denying that some force is there, too, relentlessly knocking on the doors with a steady, unending thumping. Shutting doors so that the guests are lost or confused in the passageways going from room to room. Leaving blood all over Theodora’s bedroom and clothes so that she has to move in with Eleanor. Seeming to call vulnerable girls up the dangerous turret staircase to see if they will fall to their deaths.
But scariest to me is the loneliness of Eleanor. When I read of her not being wanted, not having a place to call her own, being emotionally abused by her mother until she became a weak and timid thing, I knew that she was the scariest part of being at Hill House. She was the most vulnerable to its evil ways. And, indeed, she succumbs in the end.
Before I go, can I just say that Shirley Jackson’s picture creeps me out? There’s something about her that just doesn’t seem right. Something lurking behind that expression, behind those pale glasses covering half closed eyes…within the lines of the half turned up smile. It gives me shivers.