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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Tayler Dalli
Blog Option #5

The book We Have Always Lived in the Castle was an eerie perfection of gothic literature. A sense of mystery and dread (gothic trope) lingered throughout the entire book. The reason I liked this book is because it was subtly terrifying. Just the anticipation and waiting for something bad to happen was enough to keep me flipping the pages. A good horror movie is not necessarily one with blood and gore, its one that keeps the audience at the edge of their seat. The anticipation is truly the most agonizing part of the film. This book was like that in the fact that nothing bad truly happened during the course of the narration, but I didn’t know that until the end of the book. The whole time I was waiting for the narrator (Merricat) to say “and then I killed Constance and Uncle Julian, like I killed the rest of my family.” As a reader, I had to wait until the end of chapter eight to hear Merricat admit her guilt in the killing of her family: “I am going to put death in all their food and watch them die…yes…the way I did before” (Jackson 161).

The uncanny was most definitely present in the book. Merricat had many rituals that were almost like superstitions to her and she would get upset when they were tampered with. When a book she had nailed to a tree falls down, she becomes scared and immediately feels unsafe like the invisible walls she built around the house have come crashing down.

I think the most shocking part of the book was the ending. I had spent the whole entire book preparing myself for whatever horrible thing was going to happen at the end. Shirley Jackson chose for Constance and Merricat to continue living in seclusion in the half-burnt house. The one thing I didn’t expect was sympathy from the village people. It was implied that Constance and Merricat would never have to leave their house again. Their food was from then on out provided by generous village people, who ironically are the same people who stared, gossiped and laughed at Constance and Merricat.

       Overall, I would give the book a rating of 3 out of 5 because it was truly an unpredictable story with an even more unpredictable ending. I was also able to envision exactly what the house and the town looked like because of the great descriptive writing by Shirley Jackson. This book is a prime example of what gothic literature is all about. I would recommend this book to a friend but I would have to warn them of how strange the book and it’s characters gets to be.


Jackson, Shirley. We Have Always Lived In The Castle. New York: Viking, 1962. 100. Print.

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