2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

The Spiral Staircase: House of Leaves as Allegory for Drug Addiction


Ryan J. Schultz
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

    In his experimental novel House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski layers three different narratives which revolve around a man’s compulsion that takes over his life. The innermost layer shows Will Navidson filming his discovery of an extra-dimensional labyrinth within his home. The second layer depicts an old man named Zampanó writing an academic analysis of Navidson’s film of the labyrinth. The final layer shows Johnny reading Zampanó’s manuscript.  Over the course of the novel, each of these men becomes increasingly obsessed with their respective pursuit. Their fixations cause devastating consequences in their lives. The obsessions and their catastrophic effects can be seen as an allegory for drug dependence and its repercussions. The collapse of Navidson’s family life, Zampanó’s mental health, and Johnny’s social and physical health mirror the fallout of a drug-user’s spiral into addiction.

Keywords: Danielewski, addiction, allegory, obsession, House of Leaves, drugs

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 205-3
Location: BH 241
Time: 10:45

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