The King of the Castle by Susan Hill and The Half Brothers by Elizabeth Gaskell

The King of the Castle by Susan Hill and The Half Brothers by Elizabeth Gaskell

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The King of the Castle by Susan Hill and The Half Brothers by Elizabeth Gaskell

Compare and contrast the presentation of Charles Kingshaw and Edmund
Hooper in I'm the King of the Castle with Gregory and the narrator in
The Half Brothers. Examine their respective relationships, comment on
the behaviour of the adults and explain how it affects the boys and
helps influence the outcome of each text.

I'm the King of the Castle is a fairly recent novel compared The Half
Brothers, a pre 20th century text. The two texts deal with the issues
that arise from family relationships. However, I'm the King of the
Castle portrays bullying within a family relationship and The Half
Brothers portrays jealousy in a family relationship.

In I'm the King of the Castle Edmund Hooper, the son of Joseph Hooper
who is the owner of Warings shows many similarities with the narrator
in The Half Brothers. Both boys are the sons of successful, dominant
men who are the heads and owners of their houses. Because of the
influence of their fathers, both boys are dominant and enjoy the
feeling of being in control. Like his father, Edmund lacks friends and
has a detached outlook on life. He is displeased at the news of
Kingshaw joining his home, but is not concerned about Kingshaw
interfering with his relationship with his father as the family
relationship is dysfunctional anyway. Joseph Hooper says '[he] had
failed from the very beginning to integrate him-self with Edmund' the
fact that Edmund has a lack of love from his parents is evident in his
behaviour. Edmund has an evil nature and a clear lack of conscience
where he drives Kingshaw to his death and shows no remorse 'and a spur
of triumph went through him' as he realises Kingshaw's death was
because of his actions.

The narrator in The Half Brothers is spoilt like Edmund and considers
himself to be far better than his half brother as this is what he has
been brought up to believe. He says '[He] sometimes repeated the

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disparaging words [he] heard others use with regard to him, without
fully understanding their meaning.' The narrator copies the adults
around him and is easily influenced by their ways and this contributes
to the unhappiness of his half brother. The narrator does show remorse
for the death of Gregory, especially as he realises Gregory gives up
his life for him and finally refers to him as 'Poor fellow.' William
Preston, the father of the half brothers also shows remorse for
Gregory's death, he requests to be buried at the foot of his wife and
Gregory's grave in his death. This shows his self realisation about
how badly he treated Gregory and that he deeply regrets this. Mr
Hooper however does not display and regret or realisation of his part
in the death of Kingshaw, he is oblivious to his part in the suicide.
William had taught his son to be mean towards Gregory, and this is
reflected in William's actions - the mistreatment of Gregory's dog and
of his Gregory was often blamed on others. In the same way, Joseph
Hooper tries to shift the blame of him being responsible for his son's
lack of love onto others, like his first wife and compares Edmund to
her 'he has the same way of not bothering to explain and of making
secrets.' Mr Hooper confirms his son is not warm and affectionate.

Helena Kingshaw's role helps explain why her son is insecure and
unhappy. She is very unaware of how Kingshaw is being treated so
Kingshaw withdraws into his isolation, how he 'copes alone' as he has
nobody to console him. Despite the events in the novel, she does not
have the insight to see her own child's problems and only sees ways of
solving her own. Kingshaw withdraws into his isolation because he has
nobody to turn to and so his suicide comes into the story. A flashback
in the text shows Kingshaw has been bullied before and so he is
weakened to be the subject of Hooper's bullying and both adults fail
to see the nasty relationship developing, they only see what they want
and consequently see the boys as 'special friends'. Kingshaw is
compassionate and innocent and even comforts Hooper in the storm even
though he was foully behaved towards Kingshaw. Kingshaw is able to
cope on his own, and shows this by trying to escape to woods, Edmund
is not so capable and completely relies on adults, he could be jealous
of Kingshaw's independence. This could be a cause of the bullying;
Kingshaw might be so independent because he has had less attention
from adults, especially from his mother. Edmund is able to spot
weaknesses in his victims, and Kingshaw's lack of attention is a

Gregory has had deep love from his mother from before the birth of his
half brother. This love from his mother is the reason he is so badly
treated by others in his home. His step father and Half Brother are
jealous of the love Gregory shared with his mother; this jealousy
drives them to the insensitive treatment of Gregory throughout his
life. However, Gregory dies because of the love he received from his
mother, he felt he had to relay to his half brother. His compassion
saved the life of his persecutor, Kingshaw's life ended because of his
persecutor, there was no compassion shown by Edmund. Gregory was not
disheartened by the neglect from his mother's sister, Aunt Fanny. She
ignores Gregory and is insulting of him 'Stupid, Aunt Fanny used to
call it.' Yet Gregory shows no resentment 'and would try to do a kind
turn for anyone' his mistreatment by all the people close to his
mother and he still gives his life to his half brother because of the
love of his dead mother. Gregory speaks to his brother as he comforts
him in the snow 'I reckon she sees us now, and belike we shall soon be
with her.' However it is too late for his half brother or step father
to know why he gives his life.

For both boys who lose their lives, they have stirred feelings with
their deaths. Kingshaw's death makes the adults seem very self
absorbed and keen to comfort the persecutor who shows no remorse, like
the adults, even Kingshaw's own mother. Gregory's death provokes
remorse and guilt in his stepfather and half brother. Kingshaw's death
was because he lacked love, his mother was shallow and blind to her
sons feelings. Gregory's death was because his mother loved him so
dearly, he showed compassion for his half brother, and was compelled
to give his life.
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