Analysis of The Character of Eleanor in The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

67 views 6 pages ~ 1438 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Miller Laura's Introduction to The Haunting of Hill House

Miller Laura wrote the introduction in The Haunting of Hill House/Shirley Jackson, a book published in 2016 in New York by Penguin Books. The author documents the story of four people who arrived at Hill House, a place that was unfriendly for them. Dr Montague is presented as an occult scholar who was obsessed with looking for solid evidence of a form of haunting. Theodora was Montague assistant who had a light heart, a trait that can be proven through the manner in which he handled tasks. Another character featuring in the story was Eleanor, who was different from the rest because of her unfriendly behaviour. The last major character is Luke, the rightful future heir in as far as Hill House is concerned. Miller Laura further reveals to the readers that Hill House was using its mysterious powers to choose of these characters and as one of its own. Eleanor death triggers a debate on who was responsible for her death. In order to understand who was responsible for her death (suicide), it is essential to follow up on her life history.

Eleanor's Desire for Freedom

Eleanor is the protagonist in the story who was first introduced by the author as death with the loss of her mother, and since then, life changed, and she could not be any happier. For approximately 11 years, Eleanor's life was difficult as she spends her early childhood with somebody who can be considered as an invalid mother. She later felt it was time to go out and live a free life. The desire to be free is the first element that readers learn about her, an aspect that drives the nature of her behavior from the beginning to the end. The trip to the Hill House was an opportunity for her to live a different life that she had wished for, but the consequences proved otherwise.

Eleanor's Illusory Concept of Freedom

A profound analysis of Eleanor's concept of freedom proves that it is guided by illusory tendencies because she never gets it despite the nature of efforts. Going to the Hill House was not her decision because of the role that Dr Montague played. He guided her through controlling the hands driving the vehicle. As a result, the idea of freedom is in her mind and very difficult to actualize especially with the expectations on the role that Dr Montague will play as a parental figure. Her life in the house, therefore, becomes much worse. There is more to learn about her character at Hill House because the years spent serving her mother might have psychologically affected her development.

Eleanor's Arrested Development at Hill House

Even after attaining the age of 32 years, Eleanor is still acting like a child with a form of an inner rage that takes over her conduct from time to time. She was often worried about negative evaluations in the presence of other characters and therefore spent time reviewing what she has said or done. Similarly, she was so much concerned about other hating him and constantly distanced herself. Later in the story when Theodora was victimized by the haunting, Eleanor was felt like the attention had shifted and she began thinking about hitting her with a stick (5.158). She further continued to lie to Theodora about her apartments in order to impress her. These among other examples help readers to understand the cause of arrested developments that affected her life.

Eleanor's Responsibility for Her Death

From these events, it is evident that Eleanor was responsible for her death because of the inability to effectively deal with the stressors her life. She had spent more than a decade contemplating about the loss of her mother, and as a coping strategy, she opted for deep intoxication connected with the house. Even though she might have had ideas about leaving the house, she suppressed these thoughts. Next, she began going through supernatural experiences that often left other members of the house bewildered. Laura narrates how Eleanor would constantly follow the voice of her mother in the house, dancing and laughing. As she did this, she climbed higher and higher in the turret that was almost crumbling. The cause of her mentally disturbed state cannot be linked to her mother because she would get over this and prevent any other adverse effects on her life.

Eleanor's Distorted Reality and Her Fatal Decision

In an attempt to save her life, members of the house suggest that she should leave the house as fast as possible — a decision that Eleanor did not like despite appearing to agree with the ruling of the majority. Besides, the characters were becoming aware that the house was beginning to possess her prompting Luke and Dr Montague to resolve that Eleanor was better outside the house. She was however completely obsessed with the place and claimed that she could leave (Jackson 12). However, she bid them farewell before propelling the car into an Oak tree, killing her instantly as per the assumption at the moment. Although readers might consider her death as having a supernatural significance, it is evident that her emotionally disturbed state of mind played a major role in making such as fatal decision.

The Psychological Effects of Eleanor's Mother and Her Inability to Function Well

The extreme psychological effects of her mother made Eleanor wake up in the middle of the night and dance through the hallways, a mental condition that associated with her denial. It is further reported that she would pound on the doors as if there was a ghost controlling her behavior. This could be the argument that makes readers think that her mother was calling her using supernatural powers and therefore opted to commit suicide. Besides, the noticeable suicidal ideations made her have delirious thoughts and intentions to jump of the iron stairway. However, Luke was observant and immediately came to her rescue. The case of poor Nell can also be applied in this context to explain the supernatural cause of her death, but the evidence is insufficient.

Eleanor's Death and Its Responsibility

If Eleanor's death had supernatural causes, then it would be expected that she should have died in the same manner as Nell. Nell died after being pushed off the stairway by what appeared to be a ghost. The event happened after what seemed to be a form of communication with her mother after a similar dance by the protagonist. However, Eleanor died of another cause and therefore totally responsible. Being possessed by supernatural powers and the presence of the ghost was mostly happening after the dance which did not happen in the last scene before her death.

Eleanor's Poor Coping Strategies and Stagnated Development

Bad coping strategies associated with her mother's death, gradually made her incapable of functioning well. She further failed to seek better ways to help her live a better life. While people may struggle to function properly especially after a loss of a caregiver, it is evident that the situation, in this case, is extreme. Eleanor had reached a critical situation in which she could not leave the house and heavily depended on the presence of another person to help her get over terrific incidences that totally dominated her world making it seem real. She should have been open other institutions of socialization in life instead of clinging on the family beyond unimaginable levels.

Eleanor's Distorted Reality and the Denial of the Side Effects

Other characters in the house might have made sufficient efforts to help Eleanor escape from the confines of her then critical and mystical life but they did not succeed because of her poor interpersonal skills and being stagnated on what seemed to be childlike tendencies. Achieving freedom was therefore impossible because of what she further added as malevolent and uncontrollable outside forces. She further had a form of a distorted reality concerning freedom, a position that can be proven through the focus on her vision during the car ride. She would imagine a good life as being all about new homes, a cup of stars and stone lions. Therefore, she could not critically and rationally analyze the side effects of living in the house which she considered as being attractive and an alternative place which would act as her new home. Leaving the house to seek comfort in another location cause intense fear making her drive the car into the Oak tree. Readers should therefore not look for an outside source resulting in the protagonist's death because she was fully responsible for it.

Work Cited

Jackson, Shirley. The haunting of hill house. Penguin, 2013.

November 24, 2023


Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Literature Review
Verified writer

Tony is a caring and amazing writer who will help you with anything related to English literature. As a foreign exchange student, I received the best kind of help. Thank you so much for being there for me!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro