Wednesday Wisdom from The Haunting of Hill House

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


It's that time of the year. Everyone is obsessed with ghosts, vampires, zombies, pumpkins and of course - haunted houses. Are there a more well-known haunted house than Hill House? Even if you've never read the gothic classic by Shirley Jackson, I bet you've heard of it. Even more so with the hit series streaming on Netflix. I haven't watched it yet, will get to it soon. 

We are slam-dunk in the middle of the Fraterfest Read-a-thon and what better time to read this novella. It was my first time reading it and I started reading in bright daylight, because I was scared the book might just go bump in the night. I ended up not being scared, but rather psychologically spooked. I strongly suspect that has been the main aim of the book for the last 60 years. 

It's not about what happened, rather about what you thought and perceived. Aaaah perceptions and interpretations. Are you ever really wrong? 

But maybe it really was just a haunted house. Some houses are just not fit for human habitation. 


"It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. Exorcism cannot alter the countenance of a house. Hill House would stay as it is until it was destroyed. "

Then again, can a house really possess such power? After all, it's only a house. It cannot possibly come alive without a living organism taking residence. 

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”


Maybe it's not about the house at all. Maybe it's more about what comes with the living organisms.

“To learn what we fear is to learn who we are. Horror defies our boundaries and illuminates our souls.”

“Fear," the doctor said, "is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.”

“I think we are only afraid of ourselves," the doctor said slowly.
"No," Luke said. "Of seeing ourselves clearly and without disguise.”

Or is the whole book just a decent into madness? 


Whatever my perception and interpretation, I'm still glad I finally read it and got some words of wisdom from it. Understanding, not so much. 

I'm very thankful that my house is friendly, colorful and fit for human, feline and canine habitation. 

Have you read this classic? Want to share your perception or interpretation with me?

Mareli 



8 comments

  1. Hi Mareli,

    Halloween and Guy Fawkes events have been cancelled here in the UK, with all the new restrictions which have been imposed because of Covid. Christmas gatherings don't look as though they are going to happen either, including family groups, so it is going to be a lonely time for a lot of people!

    I don't tend to take part in any 'readathons', as I can really only manage to make time commitments for Blog Tours / Review Tours. Quite a few of my blogging friends join up to multiple readathons and I always enjoy checking out their reading choices.

    I have never come across author Shirley Jackson before, but having gone away and checked out her books, I really should add her name to my list.

    How are things looking Covid wise in South Africa now, that's one place we never get to hear about on our UK news programmes? I hope you are keeping safe and well :)

    Yvonne xx

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    1. Hi Yvonne! We don't celebrate Halloween or Guy Fawkes her in South Africa, so luckily nothing to cancel. Social gatherings over Christmas. You can try as much as you want to, gather they will gather. Unless we need to go under Restrictions level 5 again and no-one is allowed to leave their houses. Can't see that happening though.

      For some or other reason (that I know but can't put on any social media platform), most news of actual importance in SA do not make International Head Lines.

      We are safe and well, the little town that we live in only had a couple of cases. The bigger city not that far away had quite a large number of cases and a few of the rural areas in our province was completely out of control.

      At this stage, we are still wearing masks and know that it's still "out there", but that's about it. Life and business as usual!

      Good to hear from you again! Hope you are still okay and safe.

      xoxoxo

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  2. I've had this book sitting on my shelf for ages and still haven't read it. I'm not generally too good with scary books (I'm very easily scared!), but I can probably deal with being psychologically spooked! Hopefully I'll get around to reading it soon.
    Great post!

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    1. Hi Laura, you might find yourself thinking WTH/F every now and again... But no, I won't say it's scary. Or maybe I just really don't scare very easily.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Oh my. I'll never forget Shirley Jackson's story, "The Lottery." That was horrifying, but, like this book, in a psychologically horrifying way.

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    1. Hi Deb! I know I've read it years ago and it didn't make such a huge impression on me as The Monkey's Paw. That story freaked me out.

      I'll have to read The Lottery again as well. I've read The Monkey's Paw last weekend.

      Hope you are doing well!

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  4. The Netflix series is only very very loosely based on the book and while I find the book creepy and unsettling I found the show terrifying!

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    1. I've read an article about the Netflix series last week and I saw it's like a tie-in. Wanted to start watching it, but my hubby was away this week. Too scared to watch it alone... !!! Will start watching it over the weekend.

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