Twitter Tumblr FlickrFacebookContact me
Now 2018 Previous Articles Road Essays Road Reviews Author Title Source Age Genre Series Format Inclusivity LGBTA Portfolio

Recent posts


Month in review

Reviews
Amulet 8: Supernova by Kazu Kibuishi
Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq
The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
Bluecrowne by Kate Milford
Bluff and Bran and the Snowdrift by Meg Rutherford
Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Echo's Sister by Paul Mosier
Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany
Foe by Iain Reid
Hold The Cream Cheese, Kill The Lox by Sharon Kahn
Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle
How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Lavender Lies by Susan Wittig Albert
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part Two by Michael Dante DiMartino and Irene Koh
Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Lowriders Blast from the Past by Cathy Camper and Raul III
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen
Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Personal Demons by Nimue Brown
The Reader by Traci Chee
Secret Coders 4: Robots & Repeats by Gene Luen Yang
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sodom Road Exit by Amber Dawn
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling

Miscellaneous
Cybils Update (November 06)
Cybils Update (November 13)
Cybils Update (November 20)
Cybils Update (November 27)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 05)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 12)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 19)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (November 26)
October 2018 Sources
October 2018 Summary

Road Essays
FFCC99: FF99CC and FF9999: orphans in the wildlands by maze and labyrinth
FF9933: orphan wildlands blue highway
From 00CC33 to 33CCCC: a road narrative analysis of Haunting of Hill House, book and Netflix television series
A Map to the Road Narrative Spectrum
Road Narrative Update for October 2018
The three faces of Eleanor

Previous month


Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish



Privacy policy

This blog does not collect personal data. It doesn't set cookies. Email addresses are used to respond to comments or "contact us" messages and then deleted.


The three faces of Eleanor: 11/30/18

The three faces of Eleanor

This essay will compare and contrast three road narrative travelers all named Eleanor. Two of them happen to be the same character, rendered differently through adaptation (Eleanor Vance of The Haunting of Hill House). The final one will be Eleanor West of the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire.

Besides Hill House itself, Eleanor Vance, is the standalone protagonist of The Haunting of Hill House. The use of her image combined with the roofline for the recent Netflix adaptation is a perfect visual metaphor for how linked she and the house are.

Although the relationship of the visitors to Hill House to each other and to the House change between book and television series, Eleanor's is nearly stable.

In Shirley Jackson's novel, Eleanor has come to Hill House to escape her sister after years of sharing the duty of caring for their ailing mother. She has access to her sister's car but very little agency over herself and her life, becoming her sister's caregiver and housekeeper, bound at home by her sister's whims. Taking the car and driving it hours away to Hill House is her final act of self determination and defiance.

During her stay at Hill House, book Eleanor repeats that she "has no mother." We know that she had a mother but it wasn't good relationship in recent years. It might not have ever been good. For book Eleanor, her status as "motherless" should give her the protection of orphan magic.

But her introduction to Hill House shows that she isn't an orphan; she is privileged. She has driven herself to a rumored haunted house (uhoria) via a blue highway. The privileged traveler on a blue highway should be the set up for a standard lark of a road trip story. The inclusion of a uhoric destination, is what makes this novel horror. But it is her arrogance at trying to invoke orphan status that sets her up as the House's prey.

Netflix title art for The Haunting of Hill House

In the Netflix version, it's obvious from the very beginning, before the first second of the show by the cover art of the series. The top half shows Hill House and four children standing before it. They are without their parents, a sign of how the summer at the house will tear apart the family. Then there's a rip as if Eleanor's portrait has been torn in half, and the bottom half placed below the family photo. That turns the dormers of the house into Eleanor's eyes and a tear runs down her cheek from the direction of the Red Room (and source of house flooding / and the uhoria). The over all message is that Eleanor and the House are one and the same.

Young Eleanor haunted by dead Eleanor

Through the horror of uhoria, Eleanor haunts herself for the remainder of the series. She is the first ghost shown on screen. She is the first ghost to haunt a house that in the novel was ghostless. It's through her own haunting that Hill House lures her "home" to reunite her with her mother (the first to die in the TV series). In both cases, then, Eleanor is rendered motherless to drive the narrative forward.

But more broadly, Eleanor and Hill House are linked. Of all the visitors, it is Eleanor that the house wants most. The house in both version is also demonstrated to be a uhoric space — a place out of time.

What if, there is more to Eleanor's story that just a miserable life, the painful death of her mother, being lured to an evil house, and finally dying at the house? What if "death" at Hill House is "her door" as Seanan McGuire would put it?

Let me be blunt and say that nowhere have I read where Seanan McGuire has said she has Eleanor West is at all inspired by Eleanor Vance. This is just me seeing connections having read and watched the two authors back to back.

Eleanor West in the Wayward Children series is elderly but very much alive. She gives her age in Beneath the Sugar Sky (2018) as 97. Given that not much time has passed since the first book, Every Heart a Doorway (2016), one can estimate that Eleanor West was born in 1919 or thereabouts. In 1959 when Jackson's story was published, again assuming a contemporary setting, Eleanor would have been about forty, the age when adults do often have to care for ailing parents or see their parents die.

So what if Eleanor West's death, either by car or by hanging (the Netflix version) was her door to whatever utopia that's not quite the mundane United States with lingering aspects of the worlds where the children have gone. What if her school is a Hill House that has found its purpose. What if this is the redemption of Hill House?

Comments  (0)


Name:
Email (won't be posted):
Blog URL:
Comment: