Study Guide

The Haunting of Hill House Chapter 7

By Shirley Jackson

Chapter 7

  • Eleanor wanders the grounds of Hill House with no destination and no purpose. She's immensely happy, though she doesn't specify why.
  • Mrs. Montague arrives with her boy toy, Arthur. Did we say boy toy? Because we meant fellow ghost hunter. Where would we get boy toy from, anyway, other than, you know, the obvious?
  • Mrs. Montague demands to be put in the most haunted room, so to the nursery she goes.
  • Mrs. Montague complains that Dr. Montague hasn't been as methodical as he could have been. He hasn't even used a planchette for goodness's sake.
  • Mrs. Montague demands the guests move the car at once, but the Hill House inhabitants tell her they have a steadfast rule against doings in the night. Arthur, always one for a good first impression, calls Luke a coward.
  • Dinner is served, and Mrs. Montague and Arthur basically say they're taking over the ghost hunting song and dance. Arthur will patrol; Mrs. Montague will make sure these slipshod methods are reorganized into a workable plan.
  • Mrs. Montague and Arthur leave for the library to work the planchette. General consensus: everyone agrees they simply love Mrs. Montague.
  • Luke asks Dr. Montague what a planchette is, and Dr. Montague informs him it's a way to contact spirits beyond the physical realm. It's similar to an Ouija board.
  • Dr. Montague isn't a fan of such methods. He finds them superstitious and utterly unscientific. He even uses the word balderdash to describe it, and we love it when someone uses the word balderdash.
  • Mrs. Montague and Arthur return with the findings of the planchette. They have all sorts of information from beyond the grave, such as a story of a nun or woman named Helen trapped inside a wall.
  • Dr. Montague tries to counter these stories by pointing out that Hill House's history suggests no such character, but Mrs. Montague tells him there's no doubting the planchette.
  • Since Dr. Montague's lease forbids him from tampering with the house, our nun will have to remain buried.
  • But Mrs. Montague's not done yet. The planchette was also kind enough to remind Arthur to send his aunt flowers.
  • Finally, Mrs. Montague and Arthur had a conversation with a ghost who had a message for someone named Nell. The ghost talks of being lost without a home or mother.
  • Theodora wonders why the ghost is picking on Eleanor, and Mrs. Montague is surprised to learn that Theodora is not this Nell. She had assumed she was.
  • Mrs. Montague wonders if Eleanor is not more psychically receptive than they realize, while Eleanor thinks to herself that all she wants is peace.
  • The group makes sleeping arrangements. Arthur will patrol the hallways with his revolver—what, no proton pack? And Mrs. Montague, after some mild complaining, agrees to sleep in the nursery (it being the most spiritually receptive of the rooms).
  • After some good nights, the core group gathers in Dr. Montague's room. He feels like Hill House will pull something tonight. He wants everyone in the same room so that they can keep an eye on one another.
  • The door opens wide and crashes shut, and the pounding begins again. Theodora even wonders if they've exhausted Hill House's repertoire of tricks (7.172).
  • For Eleanor, it's much worse, as the pounding seems to be as much inside her as in the hallway.
  • Theodora and Luke assure Dr. Montague that his wife and Arthur will be okay.
  • Theodora pulls Eleanor close, but even the warmth of Theodora can't penetrate the cold surrounding Eleanor. Not even the brandy warms her up (oh, dear).
  • Eleanor seems able to perceive the pattern of Hill House's attacks as if she's inside the house's head or something.
  • Hill House begins to shake as though it's about to come down. Eleanor's consciousness drifts farther away from the group, and she decides to "relinquish [her] possession of this self" to the house (7.193).
  • When Eleanor comes to, Theodora is leaning over her. It's a new day, bright and early. The group reassures her that everyone, even Mrs. Montague and Arthur, are okay. Together, they head down to breakfast.

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