Shirley Jackson: The Embodiment of the Supernatural

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The supernatural cannot be explained by logic nor reasoning, neither can it be studied by science, since the intangible force that controls the supernatural cannot be measured or controlled by the intellect. Shirley Jackson expressed “interest in superstition, and the supernatural” as a child; her interest in the occult led Jackson to become a practicing witch, Lenemaja Friedman Professor of English Literature confirms this in her book Shirley Jackson (Friedman 19). Jackson critics, felt that her stories were the works of a twisted mind, because of this “Jackson downplayed the single real-life parallel to her fiction — her personal study and practice of witchcraft” in order to debunk the critics evaluation of her mind as brought to light by Charles Avinger in his essay Shirley Jackson Identities & Issues in Literature (Avinger). Shirley Jackson’s interest in superstitions, and delving into the supernatural influenced the writing of “Home”, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Haunting of Hill House.
The village people in “Home” have a superstitious belief that the Sanderson road is haunted when it rains. Ethel Sloan and her husband Jim Sloan have just recently purchased the old Sanderson place; when Ethel tells the store clerk, and the grocer she drove the Sanderson road to the village in the rain, they try to warn her of a mysterious danger in connection with the road. The villager’s superstitions, do not allow them to tell Ethel exactly why the Sanderson road should not be traveled in the rain; the clerk and the grocer only infer that they avoid traveling on the Sanderson road when it is storming, causing Ethel to believe that the road is not traveled because of its rough condition. The village people believe the ghos...

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...ious even to the point of demanding a family friend leave their home for criticizing her husband’s work believing he was “hexing” the chance of it selling to the New Yorker (Friedman 33). According to Stanley Edgar Hyman in Hall’s book Shirley Jackson, Jackson was “the only contemporary writer who [was] a practicing amateur witch,” her interest in the black arts gave her superstitious leanings and a window into the supernatural (Hall 104). Jackson tried to down play her involvement in the practice of the occult so as not to discredit her sensibility as a writer amongst her critiques. Superstitions and the supernatural influenced the context of “Home, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Haunting of Hill House. Jackson’s ability to intertwine the spirit realm with nature allowed her to create characters with realities detached from the world they live in.

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