chapter  6
13 Pages

‘But it’s happening to you, Eleanor’

The Haunting as a ‘Buildingsroman’
WithJohanna M. Wagner

This chapter explores the ways in which Eleanor Lance’s character develops much more strongly than her precursors. The development of self, for Eleanor, seems to be only understood in conjunction with two things: having been a part of an experience, and having belonged somewhere through rightful permanent residence. To plot Eleanor’s development and transformation, one must pay close attention to key technical features of the film. Hill House’s influence on Eleanor’s development is directly related to the animation of the house and the subsequent bond established between it and the protagonist. Eleanor’s backbend on the balcony mirrors her stunning horizontal acrobatics in the library. Shirley Jackson’s character, Eleanor, is a curious Gothic protagonist and remains a most unique and complex character in Robert Wise’s The Haunting. Eleanor is also a more voluble protagonist than the conventional Gothic heroine.