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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Enjoy reading the book! The task is to figure out some of what makes the book so terrifying. It’s as much a psychological horror story as a supernatural one. Helplessness, inevitability, isolation . . . there are a limited number of things that frighten us deeply, mainly the fear of loss, of life, enjoyment, friends and family, control. What is so scary, and how does she manipulate us to build the suspense through the book?

But mainly, savor the book.

Then write your own (very) short scary story, or, if you wish, a first chapter for a horror or suspense novel. Try to see what you can do without gore.

I think that most of the books you’ve read, you can get the book without reading it very carefully. This one is a little better done, and it’s all there for a reason – not a lot of filler. So a lot can turn on a paragraph, and it won’t make sense if you skim. So much of the book is in the main character’s relationship to those around her.

There is a lot of description as she’s going through the country side, but I think what the author is doing is getting us inside her head, we like her, we can empathize. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t care when – it happens.

 

I like the stories you did, they are all quite different and are scary in different ways. I hope everyone can work on them to make them scarier, and type them up and I’ll post.

Some of the things we came up with that people are frightened of:

death

injury

loss of control

loss of loved ones

loss of meaning

loss of social mores

loss of one’s mind

the dark

spiders

the unknown

pain

rough seas (helplessness?)

airplanes

clowns

confinement in small space

embarrassment

the dance teacher on a tv show I didn’t catch the name of

 

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