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Symbol of Home in The Haunting of Hill House and Secret Window: Comparative Essay

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Every day, people go home to relax. A home is considered to be a safe space for everyone. However, it may not be safe for some individuals. For example, some neighbourhoods and communities might be dangerous and there might be crime. However, there could be a lack of safety in places people expect to be safe, such as neighbourhoods with mansions. In The Haunting of Hill House and Secret Window, home is a significant symbol because it is not a safe space for the main characters, although the characters’ mental conditions, their physical family structures, and their involvement of deaths are different.

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Nowadays, mental health issues are common in the world. Around 450 million people currently suffer from mental disorders, which are among the leading causes of ill health and disability. In The Haunting of Hill House, one of the main characters, Eleanor Vance, reveals herself to the reader by subtly hinting through her politeness that she has mental issues and she loses touch of reality. When she sees the house, she recognizes the danger and evil of the house. However, she wants to be independent of his sister; thus she goes in to the house. In the beginning of the story, Eleanor’s name was written on the wall of the house: “HELP ELEANOR COME HOME” (Jackson 69). The house knows her name. The house is calling her, and it has chosen her to haunt because she is the one that is always susceptible, worries too much, and sensitive. Over time, Eleanor lost even more control. One night, she tries to commit suicide by jumping from the tallest turret after being lulled onward by a voice she believes to be the voice of her dead mother. She falls entirely under the house’s spell. Eleanor went to the house for socializing, and she wanted to be free. However, Eleanor was under the house’s spell, and in the end, the house possessed her. In comparison to Eleanor’s situation, the main character Mort in Secret Window has multiple personality disorder and the theme focuses more on his own mind rather than the supernatural.

In the beginning of the film, Mort finds out that his wife is cheating on him. He thinks that he can not write anymore so he has isolated himself in his cabin. However, he continually feels worse and worse every day and suddenly Shooter appears. Shooter says that Mort has plagiarized his novel. As the plot progresses, it becomes clear that Shooter is another personality of Mort. Shooter is another identity that he has created to protect himself from the pain and he was part of Mort’s personality used for doing harm to other people. Shooter was violent, impatient, and stalking Mort. Finally, he kills Mort’s wife and his dog. If we look at Shooter’s personality, we know that Mort’s mental condition gets worse over time. Mort wanted to be separate with his wife to clear his mind. Unfortunately, the isolated cabin made Mort uncontrollable and it ruined his entire life, similar to how the Eleanor loses more control over her mind from being possessed by the home. It is important to understand that in society today, characters such as Mort and Eleanor would be viewed differently from the time the book and movie were produced, as there is more research and perhaps more sympathy.

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Symbol of Home in The Haunting of Hill House and Secret Window: Comparative Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from
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