The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House Literary Elements



Setting and Context

Hill House, a country estate, 1950s

Narrator and Point of View

Third-person omniscient, mostly told from Eleanor's perspective

Tone and Mood

Tone: tense, manic, foreboding, gloomy, understated

Mood: moody, nightmarish, taut, hostile, haunted

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Eleanor | Antagonist: The House

Major Conflict

Will House will destroy the characters, particularly Eleanor, or will they will be able to gather meaningful data and emerge unscathed?


After having allowed Hill House to claim her and feeling elated at that subsumption into the House, Eleanor climbs to the top of the library tower parapet and seems as if she will throw herself down.


- Eleanor sees signs reading "DARE" and "EVIL" on the way to Hill House (12).
-Dudley tells Eleanor, "You'll be sorry I ever opened that gate" (21).


- "The house does have its little oddities" (46).
- "I am really doing it, she thought, turning the wheel to send the car directly at the great tree at the curve of the driveway..." (181-182).
- "Hill House itself, not sane..." (182).


- Count Dracula, the vampire of the famous horror novel
- "Journeys end in lovers meetings" from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night
- Evil houses from Leviticus (Bible), Hades, Winchester Mystery House, and Borley Rectory
- Pamela, a novel by Samuel Richardson
- Smollett, author Tobias Smollett
- The artists Francisco Goya and William Blake


See Imagery




- Eleanor's experiences are paralleled in the history of Hill House.
- The inhabitants are smothered, the older sister is unmarried and lives alone in the house, the younger sister is vindictive, etc.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



- "Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within" (1).
- "Around them the house steadied and located them, above the hills slept watchfully, small eddies of air and sound and movement stirred and waited and whispered" (41).
- "Why so many odd little rooms?... Maybe they liked to hide from each other" (45).
- "High on top was a conical wooden roof, topped by a wooden spire. It must have been laughable in any other house, but here in Hill House it belonged, gleeful and expectant, awaiting perhaps a slight creature creeping out from the little window onto the slanted roof..." (83).