Department

English

Date

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work

Essay

Advisors

Dr. Emily James, Dr. Alexis Easley, Dr. Martin Warren

Abstract

This paper argues that Shirley Jackson uses the physical form generally and architectural features in particular of Hill House to illustrate the house as a constrictive domestic and maternal space in her 1958 novel The Haunting of Hill House. With the conventions of the gothic tradition as a backdrop, I place Jackson’s work within an American, mid-twentieth century context. Using the vocabulary and framework of Gaston Bachelard from The Poetics of Space, I push back against Bachelard’s depiction of these domestic and maternal spaces as primarily happy ones, showing how the female experience of domestic and maternal spaces of the time and place, as illustrated by Jackson’s description and use of the titular feature, is neither so simply positive nor simply stifling. The house is actively malignant, even if the protagonist’s relationship to it is ambivalent.

Keywords

Literature

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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