Study Guide

The Haunting of Hill House The Supernatural

By Shirley Jackson

The Supernatural

Remember the opening to The Nightmare before Christmas? In it, various creepers, crawlers, and bump-in-the-nighters tell us a little something about themselves and Halloween Town. But in The Haunting of Hill House, we never get a name for the malevolent forces behind Hill House's haunts. Is it a ghost? The house itself? A build-up of negative energy and bad luck manifesting as paranormal activities? Various characters give different explanations for the supernatural happenings, but in the end, we can't say with certainty whether or not anything supernatural has even happened. It could all have just existed in the characters' minds.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Do you think the supernatural haunts of Hill House were real, or did they happen only in the minds of the inhabitants? No right or wrong here, but remember to back your answer up with some evidence.
  2. Consider Dr. Montague's rendition of the history of Hill House. What do you think this part of the novel says about the supernatural?
  3. Pick three characters and list something that haunts them. Looking at the list, what does this tell you about the supernatural, and also about the characters' personal fears?

Chew on This

The supernatural elements of Hill House are real paranormal manifestations and happenings in the characters' minds. The trick is to read carefully and find out which is which.

Mrs. Montague's accounts of the supernatural events at Hill House come right out of traditional Gothic novels. In her mind, life imitates art.

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