I'm the King of the Castle (Anglais) Relié – 31 août 2000
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"Hooper had known, from the very first moment he had looked into Kingshaws face, that it would all be easy, that he would always be able to make him afraid.
This tragic tale of two isolated children explores the nature of cruelty and the power of evil.
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One boy tortures another, leading the latter to commit suicide. The villain then gets patted on the back...
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In the character of Mr Hooper, we see how this lack of love is passed down from generation to generation, like a family legacy. As a child he was forced to see value in the collection of dead moths and butterflies belonging to his father, and prevented from exploring the fields around Warings, the family house. Mr Hooper's relationship with his father was distant, the latter instilling the value of material things, and of the Warings house as an inheritance. Apparently not knowing any better, Joseph Hooper instills the same values in his son, with disasterous consequences. He thinks he can buy the child's affection with material goods, and expects Edmund to go out to play when he wants to be alone. By bringing the Kingshaws to Warings, he thinks that he can create a family, and end the loneliness that he and his son are suffering from. But people are more complex than property. In one scene, Charles Kingshaw tries to force a piece into a jigsaw he is making, but the piece won't fit. It is a metaphor for the way the adults have been trying to make a family.
Mrs Kingshaw, complying with Mr Hooper's attempts to make a family, is equally insensitive to her son's feelings. Their life has involved moving from hotel to hotel, without a stable domestic or family background. So eager is she to put down roots that she ignores the hostility between Charles and Edmund. Both Mrs Kingshaw and Mr Hooper share a fantasy that the two boys are best friends, despite Charles' repeated protests. While we can sometimes sympathise with her as a lonely, single woman, she does not provide Charles with love, and is ignorant of his suffering. The result of both parents' fantasy of happiness, and their failure to give love, is the tragic ending.
Susan Hill's depiction of two parents who are unable to really understand their children is a sobering one; it serves as a warning. Neglect goes some way towards explaining why events unfold as they do; though, in Edmund Hooper, there is something beyond nurture that makes him act cruelly. Nevertheless, in the case of both families, a more loving, understanding environment for the children would have prevented the novel's tragic outcome. The book appeals to teenagers because it does not condescend to them; it shows an awareness of the trials children face but adults dismiss as being of little consequence. Susan Hill writes extremely well, but her major strength, at least as far as this novel goes, is in character (Whilst Edmund is viewed only from the outside, the character of Charles is a brilliant, sensitive depiction of a trapped, distressed child). Guaranteed to provoke debates in the classroom, and should be required reading for parents who like to plan their children's future.
Additionally, Hill is extremely effective in making us feel for the characters. I was surprised at the strength of my hate for Mrs. Kingshaw and Hooper, my pity for Kingshaw, and my love of Fielding. This effective immersion of the character's feelings makes for a tragically shocking ending. I will definitely be reading more of Hill's literature.
Initially, you may feel there is somehow a hidden meaning or something lacking in the story. However, as you read on, the story unfolds and you will realize the messages Susan Hill is trying to convey to the reader. The main themes of the book are fear, isolation, courage, human relationships and lastly, evil within the soul of a person. Readers will be shocked by how a child can lack innocence, as referred to Edmund Hooper, an important character in the story. Charles Kingshaw, the character we sympathize with greatly, will move us by the devastating circumstances he lives in.
Bullying is no longer a light matter. It can leave a huge scar in one's life and even drive him to suicide. The story holds many symbolic situations and meanings. Parents should no longer underestimate the powers or the deep feelings a child has.
Indulge into the story where you will discover the dark aspects of life.