It's impossible not to mention the description of Hill House; the image created in our minds of this imposing edifice is utterly crucial in stoking the terror we feel while reading this novel. Jackson writes of "manic juxtaposition, a badly turned angle" and how the House has "blank windows" with a sense of watchfulness. It is "arrogant" and "evil" with its "great head back against the sky without concession to humanity" (24). It is "enormous and dark" and characterized in "utter silence" (25). These are Eleanor's first impressions, but only some of the many details Jackson gives us as the novel continues.
Hill House as Carnival
Theodora muses, "It's the crazy house at the carnival... Rooms opening out of each other and doors going everywhere at once and swinging shut when you come, and I bet that somewhere there are mirrors that make you look all sideways and an air hose to blow up your skirts, and something that comes out of a dark passage and laughs in your face..." (73).
The House (Interior)
There is simply so much redolent imagery in the text; it sticks in the mind of the reader and refuses to let go. The creepy heads above the nursery door, the works of art with dead and dying animals, the disturbing book with its ghoulish drawings made by Crain, the chess game that suggests the game the characters are enmeshed in, the eerie and impossible tower, the rooms with no windows - all of these are stark and foreboding images.
The image Theodora and Eleanor see of the picnic is a disturbing one. It is obviously spectral and beguilingly false; the lightness and color and mirth are the opposite of what they know the house to be like. It is shocking in its inexplicable presence out here in the dark night. This image also reminds readers of Eleanor's deepest desire for family, love, and being cherished.
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.