Mary Wilkins Freeman and Shirley Jackson, though writing in different time periods, are both invested in recuperating domesticity and using their work to imagine what domesticity removed from the context of marriage and children can offer single women. Both authors assert that emplacement within domestic enclosure is essential to securing feminine subjectivity, but their haunted house narratives undermine that very emplacement. Freeman’s stories, “The Southwest Chamber” and “The Hall Bedroom” anticipate Jackson’s more well-known The Haunting of Hill House
in the way that unruly domesticity threatens the female character’s emplacement. Their haunted house narratives show that neither Freeman nor Jackson, for all that they are subversive in some ways, wants to dissolve the traditional ideological constructs of domesticity; instead, they want these ideologies to work in the culturally promised patriarchal fashion. Reading their haunted house narratives together reveals the dynamics and tensions of a domesticity that is fluid, entangled, and vibrant and the feminist potential such sites engender, even if the characters and texts in question cannot fully realize that potential.
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