The Haunting Of Hill House: Analysis Of The Novel And The Series Adaptation

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Possessions and the paranormal have been in included in films and literature for ages. Hauntings and possessions always catch people’s eyes because no matter what, everyone has an opinion on the paranormal. Films or literature based around hauntings is common because some people like that feeling of the unknown. They like that adrenaline response of being scared while watching a film or reading a book. Throughout the past ten years, countless amounts of films and literature have been written and produced. Whether you watch the films or read the literature concerning hauntings, everyone will maintain their own opinion. 

Many people that choose to watch horror films or read literature that includes hauntings and or possessions like that feeling of the unknown. I know that I use films and books to escape from my active or hectic days. When new films or books come out that include topics that are foreign to them, like ghosts or spirits it draws them in. Its a possibility that when people watch horror movies or read haunting literature, they feel they have control over their viewing experience or the feeling of being scared. 

Throughout history, countless amounts of movies and books have been written and produced including, The Haunting of Hill House. Hill House is based around the lives of the four main characters; Luke Sanderson, Theodora, Eleanor Vance, and Dr. Montague. This novel describes the experiences these four had while spending a summer investigating it. 

In the novel and the series adaptation, Eleanor remains a relatively important character. Eleanor is introduced pretty early on in the novel. She is introduced by Jackson as a quiet, one could say secluded personality. While reading the novel Eleanor comes off as unsympathetic of her mother’s passing. Eleanor had been taking care of her mother for roughly eleven years. It is hinted at in the novel that her mother was the only person she really had contact with during those years. When her mother passes Eleanor is portrayed and being relieved and happy. Eleanor gets invited to Hill House by Dr. Montague, and she accepts without telling anyone what she’s up to. This shows that she is trying to become an independent woman. She steals the car that she and her sister share and drives to Hill House with only the directions given to her by Dr. Montague. Including this in the story line shows that Eleanor is trying to become the woman she lost while taking care of her mother. Jackson includes in the story line that while she’s driving to Hill House she’s imagining herself in the position that the owners of the houses she passing are in. The author is trying to show that Eleanor character is making strides in her tone and personality. 

Dr. Montague was a catalyst in this novel. He obtained his doctorate in anthropology, but his main focus was trying to prove the existence of the paranormal. He held on to the idea that he was going to prove this by spending the summer at a so-called “haunted house” which was known as Hill House. Dr. Montague went about this by sending out letters. The letters were sent to multiple individuals that he had heard had weird or “paranormal activities” happen in the past. In the beginning of the novel you don’t really get a feel of Dr. Montague’s personality. Further into the story he has some moments where he’s kind to the guests. A majority of the time Jackson wrote Dr. Montague’s tone as being very stern and stubborn. You can tell by the way his character is displayed he thinks of and speaks to the other characters as though they are his children. 

Jackson wrote Theodora as a very energetic person and lives a care-free life style. Theodora was in a fight with her roommate when she was invited to join Dr. Montague and the rest at Hill House. The author wrote this as though the only reason she accepted his invitation was because they were in a fight. Once Theo arrived at Hill House she met Eleanor. The two quickly become very close friends. Jackson wrote this as though Theo was who Eleanor wished she could be.

Luke Sanderson is portrayed very differently than the rest of the characters in The Haunting of Hill House. Jackson presents him a very specific personality. Jackson portrays him as a thief and a liar. It is referenced in the novel that he had been stealing from his aunt. He was the only character that was not invited to Hill House by Dr. Montague. Luke instead was a contingency in the agreement that allowed Dr. Montague to spend the summer researching Hill House. 

The film and the novel have very notable differences. The main difference between the two is the characters. Dr. Montague isn’t included in the series adaptations which completely changes the storyline. In the series adaption all of the characters are related. Nell and Luke are twins, but Nell seems to be the one that recalls the most from her haunted childhood, this includes “the bent neck lady”. Steve Crain is unmentioned in the novel version but is a vital character in the series adaption. He is the oldest Crain and wrote an autobiography about his haunting childhood which then causes trouble between the siblings. Shirley Crain is also unmentioned in the novel but is also a huge character in the series. She tries forgetting her childhood and keeps busy by running a funeral home out of her house. By doing this Shirley starts to complete funerals for free which in turn puts her business in jeopardy. Theo and Shirley’s husband has an affair which causes Shirley to recount her childhood even more. The difference between the novel and the series adaptation are very noticeable, but it shows horror novels and films are well received by the general public. 

No matter how you look at possessions and haunting in American literature it will always be a present topic. Millions of people have viewed and read The Haunting of Hill House. People enjoy that they can read and view something that they believe to be real, or they are reading or viewing these to try to debunk the paranormal. Either way, everyone will have their own opinion of possession in American literature and film. 


Read more