“A Haunted House” by Virginia Woolf, is a short story that tells the experience of a young couple, living in a house with a ghostly couple. The story begins with a “ghostly couple” looking for their treasure, in the house they previously lived in while alive. While alive, the ghosts lived in the house more than a century before the current residents. The woman died first, this is when the man left her and the house, he “went North, went East, saw the stars turned in the Southern sky. ” Later when the man died, he returned to join the woman ghost at the house they occupied while together.
Fearing, that the new couple may have found their treasure, the ghosts go from “room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there. Opening windows, whispering not to wake us, the ghostly seek their joy. ” The narrator, being aware that there are ghosts in the house, never feared being harmed. In the end, the author reveals that the buried treasure is “the light in the heart,” referring to all the different places in and around the house, where they had expressed their love to each other. The female ghosts says, “Here, sleeping; in the garden reading; laughing, rolling apples in the loft.
Here we left our treasure. ” It had never been missing. The major characters are the “Ghost” couple and the minor are the living couple; the ghosts are both dynamic characters. Through the entire story, the ghosts go from frantically searching for their treasure, even believing that the current residence may have found it. To realizing, what they were searching for was there the whole time. Therefore, changing the thought that they had lost their treasures, when truly their “treasure”, which was the love and joy they shared in the house was never lost and remained in the house all this time.
As for the living couple, I believe they are both static characters. Their opinion of the ghosts or house never changes through the entire story. The conflict in this story is internal. As the ghosts search frantically going room to room. They realize, that the treasure they are looking for is not an actual tangible item, but “the light in the heart,” which is the love they held in their hearts and the memories they had in the house. The setting for this short story takes place in a centuries old two story house with a garden.
The house sits on a tree-lined avenue close to a farm. With the description of “all the leaves were green in the glass”, you might think the season is most likely spring or summer. Therefore, I believe the setting to be general. The story is written from the first person point of view, through the perspective of the narrator who’s the new resident in the house. She lives in the house with her husband and she tells the reader about the ghost’s conversations and activities.
Using first person point of view in this case builds suspense as the reader follows the narrator through this living “haunted” house. Woolf uses irony, stream of consciousness, and repetition to explain what is happening. By using stream of consciousness, she is able to tell the lives of the characters by revealing the associations and thoughts they have. For example, “Here we slept,” “Upstairs”, “In the garden”. These quotes let the readers know all the different places they shared their joy and love.
The first use of irony is clearly in the title, “A Haunted House. ” This haunting is unlike the stereotypical kind we might expect that produces a sense of fear and/or dread. The living couple had no fear of these ghosts in their house. The irony is the total opposite. Throughout the story, the author shows the reader the love and great memories the ghost couple shared in the “haunted house”. Virginia Woolf uses the repetition of the words “here” and “it” to describe the “treasure” and where it may be.
The reader is informed that the ghost are trying to look for something, it’s not until the end of the story that the reader is informed what “It” was. With the use of streaming consciousness, irony, and repetition Virginia Woolf was able to portray the meaning of “A Haunted House. ” That the joy and love shared between the ghost couple is the treasure of life and love. The theme of the story is man vs love. The central idea is that love is everlasting and conquers all. Even after death, the love and joy remains hidden within us all, if you know where to look.