Short Story ‘A Haunted House’

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I read Virginia Woolf’s short story A Haunted House. This story is very interesting, though very short. A Haunted House follows the story of a ghost couple living in the house of a married couple (alive), the ghostly pair are in search of something in which they lost. They search the house going to the garden, the loft, and opening and closing doors in order to find what they have lost. The couple currently living in the house know that there are two ghosts roaming about their house. The mere fact that the couple knows that there are ghosts roaming about their house, yet they are unafraid is mind boggling. Most people if they knew ghosts were occupying their house would be freaking out. Why is this couple not freaking out?

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As the search for this unknown object continues, the reader can’t help but become a bit anxious, trying to figure out what this object is that has been lost that the ghosts are so adamant about finding. So it turns out that the object in which they were seeking was their hidden joy. They were searching for their emotional treasure in the narrator (the wife) and her husband.

Something that is interesting is really interesting is the house having a heartbeat, but this isn’t just an ordinary heartbeat, the house’s heartbeat is the word “safe” but it is repeated in such a way that it is rhythmic. I wonder why the author chose this word as the heartbeat. Could it be because the house is trying to tell the ghostly couple that their treasure is safe? Not only does the house have a heartbeat, but it can talk, it tells the ghosts that there is treasure hidden within it’s rooms. Could this be what the ghosts are after?

I find it interesting how the author interwins the story of how the ghosts become ghosts, and give that knowledge to the woman who is currently living in their house.The woman had died first hundreds of years earlier. When the wife had died, the house was sealed, and the rooms were no longer filled with light, and the husband left the house and traveled all around the world. When he died he returned to the house in order to become reunited with his wife. The narrator then realizes that the man couldn’t find what he was searching for during his journey, because what he wanted was the joy of a loving relationship, something that could only come from his wife.

The author uses stream of consciousness as a way to create a fluid/smooth transition that captures the subject’s thoughts as they drift between past encounters and memories to present sensations and moments. This how the narrator is able to convey the details of the lives of the people in whom she does not know. Due to the details being presented through someone else’s eyes, the author is able to take ordinary objects and give descriptions of them but the descriptions care much more emotional weight. For example, the pane of glass that the narrator gazes through is symbolic of the invisible barrier to understanding the different stages/ kinds of lights that are being represented. The glass keeps the sunbeam, the light of revelation from reaching the narrator. This pane of glass then becomes a symbol of the death that has kept these to lovers seperated for centuries.

Themes of Death and Love. I really love the author’s spin on this. The permeance of love even in death, the connection between all souls both living and dead. The author making death and life a place where love can flourish and thrive, Kingdoms of the Heart. The complexity of this story is amazing to me, it was only ten paragraphs, yet so much meaning and depth was packed into this story. But i think what stood out to me most was the way that the author showed that even in death, the love in which you lost can be found again whether that be in life or in the afterlife as the author suggests. 

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Short Story 'A Haunted House'. (2021, Jul 28). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from

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