Sunday, September 13, 2009

"The Lovely House" by Shirley Jackson

What i really enjoyed about "The Lovely House" is that the more closely that I read the more you discovered about the story. If someone were to quickly page through this story they would only see an innocent relationship between Margaret and Carla Montague a friend from school. Carla invites Margaret to spend the summer with her family which also is perfectly acceptable. As the story starts to progress you receive subtle hints that something may not be as cut and dry as it seems. During the first couple pages while Carla is beginning the first of many tours of the Montague house, Margaret is particularly interested in the tower that over looks the house. However, Carla quickly changes the subject and continues discussing the next room in the tour. Which added to my suspicion about the Montagues that something just wasn't quite right. After the tour is over and Carla and Margaret are dressed for dinner they met Carla's mother Mrs Montague who continues the never ending tour of the house. Mrs. Montague shows Margaret the room with the tiles which I found really interesting. Within the tile rooms laid a picture of a girls face with blue chip eyes that read "Here was Margaret, Who died for love". Which i found a eerie coincidence that the girl in the floor just so happened to share the name of the Montague's new guest. With Carla's brothers impending arrival I could only speculate at this point that maybe there was a significance to that picture in the title room. When Carla's brother arrives and you are introduced to the Captain and Paul. Margaret takes a liking to Paul and Carla spends much of her time with the captain. When the story really begins to get interesting is when Margaret asks Paul about the tower that Carla quickly neglected during their tour. Paul tells Margaret that there is a Great Great maybe even Great Aunt that lives up in the tower to avoid Mrs. Montague's tapestries. Margaret for the next few days contemplates going up into the tower but hesitates until early on morning she grows the courage to scale the stairs to the top of the tower where she plans to meet this Great Aunt. The Old Lady invites Margaret to sit down in her room where she reveals that her name is also Margaret. Coincidence? I think not. On the top of Carla's brother the Old Lady is very mysterious in saying "He should have come and gone sooner, then we'd have it all behind us" and a few moments later saying that " It will be very lonely here after he has gone." The Old Lady stumbles and Margaret grabs her by the hand. When their hands touch by almost an act of the super natural Margaret hears voices saying "All is lost", "I will always remember you". Then Margaret leaves the tower with an even more eerie taste in her mouth. The end of the summer is nearing and the Montague family throws a large ball where Carla, Margaret, the Captain, and Paul are all attending. During the ball the Old Lady visits the party and begins to catch up with Paul. During Paul and the old lady's conversation they discuss how they both have aged even though Paul is significantly older than the old lady. After the ball has ended the time before Paul and the captain departure is slowly approaching. The whole family is sitting in the house together when the captain starts to point out how the house has aged over the years and what needs repair. Margaret and Paul leave to go the tile room where they discuss the wearing of the house. Paul offended says that "Don't you think I'd know my own house? I care for it constantly, even when they forget; without this house I could not exist..". Then Paul says goodbye to Margaret and she hears voices similar to the ones she heard in the tower saying "All is lost". After saying goodbye, Margaret returns to the rest of the family to say goodbye to the captain. At this point Margaret realizes that the captain is actually Carla's brother and Paul is left to her imagination. Margaret makes a comment about the end of her visit which is ignored by the entire family. This gives me the feeling that Margaret may never be leaving the house. My theory is that Margaret was lured to this house by almost an act of destiny and that the "Margaret who died for love", young Margaret and the Old Lady are all the same person. Past. Present. and Future. The second time reading through the story i realized the subtle hints that Paul is indeed a ghost. Whenever Paul and Margaret wander off together Carla comments about how odd it is that Margaret is always wondering off. Also when the Old Lady enters the Ball and starts talking about old times and how they have both aged despite how much younger Paul is. Makes me think that maybe Paul has stopped aging a long time ago. That Paul and The Old Lady (Margaret) have been haunting this house for a very long time together.

4 comments:

  1. I had to read the story over again to realize that Paul was a ghost too. I agree with you on many points, such as, it was young Margaret's destiny to vist the house and that she will never leave. I thought she will never leave because Margaret will become a "model of stillness" with Carla for Mrs. Montague. Once you are added onto the house, I get the feeling you become immortal. Maybe I am off track but that is what I think. I also considered that the old Margaret and young Margaret are the same person but I can not think of any evidence to back up this idea. All in all, you did a good job.

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  2. I also thought the same thing about becoming immortal once added to the house, but started to think differently when the old Margaret was introduced and the possibility that the old Margaret is the same person as young Margaret. I feel like this story is left so open.

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  3. I agree with Pretzel, it is left very open. I still stand by the theory that "old" Margaret is an actual real person aging normally. I think she had the option to be immortalized in the house via the tapestries, but she preferred to live a natural life.

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  4. I disagree with jthmz1o8 when you stated that u thought paul was a ghost. I actually thought he just didn't exist at all and that he was all in margrets other world!

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