Eleanor is 32 when she first comes to Hill House, having spent most of her adult life caring for her demanding, invalid mother. She lives with her sister, brother-in-law, and niece and despises them as she despised her just-deceased mother. She is introverted, awkward, dreamy, and full of suppressed emotions. She sees her invitation to Hill House as a chance to really live her life for the first time, and glories in her new companions and the experience even though the house itself frightens her. The more time she spends in the house though, the more she seems to lose her grip on reality. The house singles her out and she begins to "dissolve" into it; she clings to both it and Theodora, to whom she announces she will live with after their summer here. Eleanor has a scare in the library tower and drives her car into a tree at the end of the novel, killing herself.
A married, middle-aged professor with an anthropology degree, Dr. Montague is very interested in the supernatural and, like nineteenth-century ghost hunters, secures assistants to stay with him at his haunted house of choice: Hill House. He is kind but occasionally stern, and indulges the other three like they are children.
An ebullient, charming, and beautiful young woman, Theodora apparently possesses some telepathic powers. It is hinted that she may be a lesbian, as she lives with a "friend" with whom she has a tempestuous relationship. She is kind but also selfish, and prone to uttering snarky criticisms, particularly of Eleanor. She may have a romantic relationship with Luke, but it is unclear.
Luke is a roguish young man, albeit a perceptive and generous one. He is the Sanderson family representative for the property and is intrigued by Dr. Montague's work. He may be involved romantically with Theodora, or even perhaps Eleanor; it is not clear.
The wife of Mr. Dudley, Mrs. Dudley cooks, cleans, and otherwise maintains Hill House, though she will not stay after dark. She is a stern, judgmental, and emotionless woman who evinces disapproval of the party.
The caretaker of Hill House, Mr. Dudley is a gruff, rude, and difficult man. He makes trouble for the visitors trying to get into the gate and warns them that they will wish they could have never come inside.
Eleanor hates her sister, who is a selfish, critical woman who does not want to allow Eleanor much autonomy or individuality.
Dead before the events of the novel take place, Eleanor's mother seems to be a domineering, critical, and selfish woman who oppressed her daughter.
He was a domineering figure who built Hill House as a country home for his wife and two daughters. He was married three times and all three wives died; his daughters grew up in the house but were then sent away. The oddness and oppressiveness of the house's design are said to resemble those of Hugh's personality. He also may have had, as his book to his daughter suggests, incestuous leanings; for him, religion and purity and sex and sin were all enmeshed.
Old Miss Crain
She was the eldest Crain sister. She had claim to Hill House and spent her remaining days there alone and unmarried but with a young village girl acting as companion.
The Younger Crain Sister
The younger of the two Crain sisters, she was bitterly angry when her elder sister's companion said Hill House was willed to her. She embroiled the companion in a lawsuit and even though she lost, she tormented the companion to suicide.
The Companion to Old Miss Crain
A young village girl sent to live with Old Miss Crain in Hill House, she spent her days caring for the old woman. When the woman died, she claimed that Hill House was left to her. She won a lawsuit against the younger Crain sister, but could not withstand the subsequent tormenting and persecution, so she hanged herself.
She is Luke's aunt who insists he go along with Dr. Montague as a representative of the family.
She is a domineering, opinionated, and assertive woman who visits the house to help her husband. She claims to have a loving, sympathetic perspective on spirits. She is also inclined toward Ouija boards and her planchette, a similar device to harness the supernatural. She hears none of the disturbances the others do and does not seem afraid of the same things, even venturing to spend the night in the nursery.
He is Mrs. Montague's gruff and no-nonsense assistant (a headmaster of a school) who helps her with the planchette and stays in the nursery with her.
The Haunting of Hill House Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Haunting of Hill House is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.