Study Guide

The Haunting of Hill House Dissatisfaction

By Shirley Jackson


What brings Dr. Montague and his crew to Hill House? Is it dissatisfaction? Survey says, "Ding!"

In The Haunting of Hill House, Eleanor is dissatisfied with her life, Dr. Montague is dissatisfied with his academic studies, Theodora is dissatisfied with her roommate, and Lukeā€¦ well, Mrs. Sanderson is certainly dissatisfied with her nephew. Does that count? On top of that, Hill House just seems to sow dissatisfaction like seeds on the rocky soil. Hugh Crain's daughters lived out their lives at Hill House in dissatisfaction, and Eleanor grows dissatisfied with her Hill House companions as the haunted mansion twists its cold tendrils around her.

What do all these people actually want? And why can't they seem to get it?

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. Who would you say is the most dissatisfied character in the novel? How does this character's dissatisfaction shape his or her interactions with Hill House?
  2. Do you see any characters overcoming their dissatisfaction at the novel's end? If yes, who, and why? If not, why not?
  3. Do you see any characters who don't suffer from dissatisfaction? If so, who are they, and how do they enhance your understanding of this theme? If not, why do you think dissatisfaction is so universal in this novel?

Chew on This

The haunts of Hill House have their origin in the dissatisfaction of the Crain family. After that, it's all about dissatisfaction multiplied over the years.

Eleanor's dissatisfaction with herself allows Hill House to get control over her. Theodora, who is not as dissatisfied, is less susceptible to the house's energy.

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