The Haunting of Hill House Lecture

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Published on 11 Jan 2011
Lecture # 9 The Haunting of Hill House/ Ghosts/ Messages from Beyond
Major Themes
Mundane evil: the seething cruelties and petty bigotries beneath the veneer of civilized
Hannah Arendt: The banality of evil evil are big horrific events that are developed
my small acts of cruelty e.g. the people who know theres something going on next door
but no one would say anything the small, nasty moves that build up
The Lottery: firestorm of controversy for The New Yorker”, plain old fashioned abuse
Psychological Terror: fear emerging from a distortion disorientation or destabilization of
a characters sense of reality. Sometimes theres an external source of fear, but often
the source is unknown or ambiguous, thus undermining the reliability of the characters
perceptions generally and gradually reality starts to shift, not a sudden intrusion it
disrupts a persons sense of reality bit by bit
Unreliable narrator: a narrator who may be in error in his or her understanding or report
of things and who thus leaves readers without the guides needed for making judgements
good place to go if youre trying to tell another view of events
Omissions, evasions and fragmented narratives all contribute to the unreliability or
instability of a narrators/characters perception of events
Twinning/doubling of characters, plot points and events
The Haunting of Hill House
The house and the psyche are both mysterious and menacing; both hide secrets and are
shaped by unseen motivations
Exploring the House
Haunting house takes on the personality of whomever is living in it
oDoppelganger: double walker” the spectral or bodily double of a person, often
reflection of ones own repressed self
oDoubled characters: Eleanor and Carrie, Eleanor and Theodora, Theodora and
her unnamed friend, Sophia Crain and her sister, Sophia and Eleanor
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