Eleanor "Nellie" Vance (née Crain) is a major character in The Haunting of Hill House. She was the youngest child and third daughter of Hugh and Olivia Crain, younger sister of Steven, Shirley, and Theodora Crain, and younger twin sister of Luke Crain.
Nell struggled during her childhood at Hill House with frequent sights of the Bent-Neck Lady. These sightings caused distress for the Crain family, who dismissed them as figments of Nell's imagination. They are, however, surprised when Nell reveals years later — now an adult — that the Bent-Neck Lady has returned.
The Haunting of Hill House
The first night after moving to the Hill House, she awakens to find the "Bent-Neck Lady" standing over her bed.
The next night, Eleanor sleeps on the couch to avoid the Bent-Neck Lady. Her mother hands Eleanor a locket which she promises to give her when she is older. She falls asleep on the couch with her mother beside her. When her mother wakes up and finds that she's asleep, she leaves. When Eleanor wakes up later in the night, she finds the Bent-Neck Lady floating above her and that she's unable to move.
In 1992, she leaves Hill House with her siblings and father.
As an adult, she tells about her past to a sleep technologist, Arthur Vance, who explains that she suffers from sleep paralysis. He asks her for coffee and they begin dating. He proposes to her during a New Year's party, and they later move to Los Angeles together when he is offered a teaching position at UCLA.
In Los Angeles, 8 months later, Arthur dies of an aneurysm. Right after he dies, she sees the Bent-Neck Lady. This makes her think the Bent-Neck Lady killed Arthur.
Nellie picks up Luke. He asks her to pick up heroin for him, saying he needs to "Get well" one last time before going to rehab. She agrees and buys some for him from a dealer off the street. He shoots up in his foot, and she sees the Bent-Neck Lady. She drops him off at the center.
She goes through withdrawal along with her brother, via "the twin thing".
A month later, she throws her pills out. She tells Theodora Crain about buying heroin for her brother, and Theo reprimands her. Eleanor asks that she touch spots in her room to see if she could sense anything about Arthur's death, which makes Theo mad. Eleanor calls Theo a freeloader and she leaves.
She goes Steven and confronts him, accusing him of not being the protective older brother he should be to her. He pulls her aside and accuses her of not taking her pills.
She confesses her problems to her therapist, who tells her she needs to confront her past. He suggests that she returns to Hill House as a means of remedying her unresolved childhood trauma, proposing that once she sees how harmless the house is she'll be able to let go of her issues.
In Massachusetts, she returns to the house and envisions it as it was when she was a child. She reunites with visions of her mother, siblings, and husband, who she dances around the house with. Eventually the visions fade away and she is left with the ghost of her mother, who convinces her to put a noose around her neck and pushes her off the stairwell, resulting in Eleanor's death. Her neck broken by the fall, she realizes that she is the Bent-Neck Lady.
As a child, Eleanor has long, pin-straight brown hair and a round face. She is often shown wearing dresses or skirts.
As an adult, Eleanor has long brown hair with short, face-framing pieces usually kept parted in the middle. She doesn't wear much makeup and her style expresses a very natural, laid-back look. After her death and in subsequent apparitions, Eleanor is shown in various stages of decomposition. She appears to each of her siblings in the outfit they last saw her in.
As a child, Eleanor is very curious and considerably more cheery. She maintains a strong connection with her twin, Luke, both emotionally and psychically.
As an adult, Eleanor is significantly more withdrawn due to her childhood trauma and sleep paralysis. She looks up to her older siblings and gets frustrated when they aren't there for her, as shown when she accuses Steven of not taking care of her like an older brother should.
- "It's Nell. Um... I need you to call me. It's hard to understand, everything's so... twisted, and it's hard to explain, but... I'm worried about Luke. Have you talked to him? Call me." - Steven Sees a Ghost
- "Do you remember the Bent-Neck Lady? [...] She's back." - Steven Sees a Ghost
- "Mommy, will you please have a tea party with me? Everyone keeps saying no." - Open Casket
- "Great. It's toast time and my maid of honor is MIA." - Touch
- "It's a twin thing." - The Twin Thing
- "I'm sending down three buttons. You ready?" - The Twin Thing
- "I'm frozen. I can't talk. Or move my arms or legs. I usually start to panic, and my breath gets fast and heavy. My heart feels like it's pounding out of my chest." - The Bent-Neck Lady
- "Like you're above taking money from family? You really wanna talk about what Shirley knows and doesn't know?" - The Bent-Neck Lady
- "We're not, though. Like any other family. We're different. Because of where we grew up. Now, you stand there and you talk about ghosts and spirits, and you sell tickets for the privilege, and yet you don't believe in any of it. And you tell me I'm crazy, and that Mom was crazy, and Luke's crazy, and we're all just nuts, and then you tell our stories. My stories, the same stories that you told me were just dreams or delusions. And you're supposed to be my big brother. You know, you're supposed to protect me. But you say the meanest things when I try to tell you." - The Bent-Neck Lady
- "I was right here and I was screaming and shouting, and none of you could see me. Why couldn't you see me? I waved and jumped and screamed and you didn't even look. None of you even looked." - Two Storms
- "What if I dream that you kill us? What if I dream that you send us away into the dark, and we get hurt? You send us away, out into the dark, and my heart breaks right in half, and I can't feel anything happy, for weeks and months and years, until I can't stand it anymore. And I-I have to die." - Screaming Meemies
- "You send us out there into the dark and the dark gets us, a piece at a time, over years and years and years, until I'm on a silver table with my jaw wired shut, and Luke is dead and cold on the floor with a needle in his arm. And it was you that killed us, because you sent us out there. In the night. In the dark." - Screaming Meemies
- "Our moments fall around us like rain." - Silence Lay Steadily
- "Mom says that a house is like a body, and that every house has eyes. And bones. And skin. And a face. This room is like the heart of the house. No, not a heart. A stomach. It was your dance studio, Theo. It was my toy room. It was a reading room for Mom. A game room for Steve. A family room for Shirley. A tree house. But it was always the Red Room. It put on different faces so that we'd be still and quiet... while it digested." - Silence Lay Steadily
- "There's no without. I am not gone." - Silence Lay Steadily
- "Forgiveness is warm. Like a tear on a cheek." - Silence Lay Steadily
- "I loved you completely. And you loved me the same. That's all. The rest is confetti." - Silence Lay Steadily
- Nell shares many characteristics with the character of the same name in the original novel.
- In the novel, Eleanor's full name is Eleanor Vance. Eleanor becomes Eleanor Vance when she marries Arthur.
- In the novel, Eleanor wears a bright red sweater at Theodora's suggestion in order to combat the dullness of Hill House. This red sweater becomes a trademark of her character. In the series, Eleanor is dressed in red at her funeral.
- In the novel, Eleanor becomes attached to Hill House to a disturbing degree and is forced to leave by the others, who are concerned about the state of her psyche. Eleanor chooses to drive her car into a tree, killing herself, rather than leave Hill House. In the series, Eleanor is killed by her mother in order to keep her with her in Hill House, and her death is looked at as a suicide.
- Both characters are 32 at the time of their deaths.
- In the novel, Eleanor has been forced to care for her aging mother for over a decade, the only member of her family to do so. In the series, Eleanor is the only one of her siblings who stays behind in Hill House with her parents.
- In the novel, Eleanor climbs a rickety library staircase in a fit of madness, presumably to commit suicide. In the series, Eleanor is hanged from a similar staircase. The book also describes one of the previous owners of Hill House who was driven to suicide. The characters speculate that she hanged herself from the staircase.
- Young Eleanor's "cup of stars" comes from a scene that book Eleanor witnesses in a restaurant. She sees a young girl at another table refusing to drink out of anything but her cup of stars, which her mother says they left at home. Eleanor admires the little girl for her stubbornness, and later lies to Theodora about having a cup of stars of her own when she was a girl.
- Both characters experience a descent into madness that culminates in their deaths: in the book, this is shown through Eleanor's withdrawal from the others in the house and communication with the spirits in the house, while in the series this is shown through Eleanor's refusal to take medication following the death of her husband.
- The five Crain siblings represent the five stages of grief: Eleanor represents acceptance.
- She is a Pisces.
|Crain Family||Hugh Crain • Olivia Crain • Steven Crain • Shirley Crain • Theodora Crain • Luke Crain • Eleanor Crain|
|Hill Family||William Hill • Poppy Hill • Hazel Hill • Jacqueline Hill|
|Group 2||Carl Walker • Irene Walker • Max • Mr. Dudley • Clara Dudley • Leigh Crain • Kevin Harris • Allie • Jayden • Arthur Vance • Kelsey • Joey • Paige • Janet • Abigail • Trish Park • Ryan Quale • Andi • Stacey • Eileen • Rick • Dr. Montague|