A Different Lens: An Analysis of the Haunted House by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s “A Haunted House” tells of the experience a young couple has with a ghostly couple that haunts their home (“Martin”). This story was told through the perspective of the wife from the young couple residing in a centuries-old house.

The story was narrated in a very unconventional way. It made a very interesting turn up as the author introduced the setting with the words “Whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there, making sure–a ghostly couple.” With this kind of introduction, the author was able to set a daunting and at the same time mysterious ambiance where the readers could take-off thereby igniting an interest to continue reading.

By creating vague references, Woolf was also able to shape the situation of the ghosts’ finding of something they called a treasure (“Martin”). The manner in which the author described the scene appeared as if the ghosts were touring the entire house, looking for something and reminiscing in the past and associating their experiences not only in everything that they found but also in every corner of the house that they visited. The way in which the author wrote the phrases of the story’s body carried the reader into the world where the ghosts left. So as the story progresses, the reader was also able to get inside the world of the story.

However, the plot gets a little bit confusing due to the circumstances and words used by the author, which tended the reader to follow the persona’s thoughts carefully. This led to a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the story. Thus, the writing technique influenced the readers to understand the story at a deeper level far from those just described by the author. That is, coming up with the thought that a treasure is not merely the gold, the glitter, the money – not the material things. Hence, the treasure is about finding fulfillment, joy, and love within each others’ arms; sharing that unexplainable feeling of affection and deep love for each other; spending life together, even after death, even in spirit. In addition, this was achieved by looking past the text and digging into the persona’s consciousness, associating his every thought and experience in it (“Martin”).

The text created a visual and emphatic representation of the persona’s world. Moreover, it was able to make the reader feel the story’s mystery and surprise, through creating confusion and enlightenment and learning of love and joy that transcends the living and the dead’s world. The author was able to do this through subliminally demanding the reader’s full attention to the details that she presented and represented.

This story introduced a different world and Martin was right when he said that the story is a fine (re)introduction to the world of modernism where reality is defined through many eyes, and which explores the abstraction and the adventures of the mind.


Martin, Robert S.” Fiction Review: Virginia Woolf, “A Haunted House”. Pop Culture. February 3, 2009.

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