The novel “I am the King of the Castle” clearly explores the themes of loneliness, sadness and depression in its plot. All of the main characters have dificulties with relationships and end up facing depressive moments and expiriences, some insignificant but some crucial and terrifing.
Joseph Hooper (father), Edmund Hooper (son) and Charles Kingshaw are three characters showing explicit loneliness almost throughout the whole novel. Their loneliness is shown by several reasons and caused by a large number of factors, most involving family issues.
Joseph Hooper’s loneliness is caused mainly by his everyday lifestyle and habits. The loss of his wife made him deserted and very distant from his own son, Edmund Hooper. He is absent from the life of his son, ending up with having no one at all.
Susan Hill makes us notice Joseph Hooperï¿½s loneliness in several ways using special techniques. It is easy to tell he is lonely without having to read much into the book or into his character. He doesn’t have a wife, and is not close to his son at all, neither by companionship nor by simply just educating him. Susan Hill also describes him in a very insecure way. We can notice this because he is always trying to prove himself to other people, even to his son, showing immaturity and lack of confidence. His timidity allows him to be easily vulnerable:
“He shrank from the impression in the boy’s eyes, from his knowingness. He was his mother’s son.”
Joseph hooper is so apprehensive, he is threatened by his own son. We can notice he is also a kind of “desperate” guy by the way he acts towards Miss Kingshaw and by the fact that he wants her recieves her in his house without even knowing her well enough. His insecurity and fear of approximating to Miss Helena Kingshaw resembles his lonesomeness. Even though he wants her, his habit of being alone stops him from taking further action at the start. When he says to Miss Kingshaw ” I am a lonely man” right after he meets her, we can immediately spot his sexual urge. Joseph Hooper is a portrait of failure.
His lack of action towards his son and Miss Kingshaw shows he is a very reserved guy, but actually this is not the way he wanted to be. His fears of being rejected and abandoned control him even though on the inside he wants to take action. He lacks confidence. We can see his deficiency towards Edmund when instead of controling him and punishing after a fight he thinks to himslef “Perhaps I should strike him. Perhaps it is very foolish to let him get the upper hand.” Edmund, even when he feels sad, rejects intimacy with Mr Hooper when he says “It is fine, I am all right” after his father questions him about his state , pushing there relationship further away. He competes with his own son which demonstrates weakness.
Charles Kingshaw is the son of Helena Kingshaw. He has lost his father and is also not close to his mother at all. She tries to educate him but in a very superficial way and has inability to understand him. It even seems as if it is an obligation of her part and her life is more important than any other thing. Kingshaw hates everything at Warnings at his first impressions. His mom doesen’t have any proper affection for him and dosen’t even notice he hates Warnings and really suffers there. He dosen’t like Edmund Hooper at all for his horrible atitude and his bullying. He fears Edmund and doesen’t like Mr. Hooper as well.
As his mom doesen’t want to work for a living, she tries to escape from the domestic life by trying a suitable company for Mr. Joseph Hooper and agreeing with him in all aspects. Her desire for hapiness, and Mr Hooper’s as well blinds them to the terrible situation Kingshaw is passing through. Kingshaw is embarassed by the acts of his mother as he knows that she dosen’t feel anything special for Joseph Hooper and she only wants to be with him for the comfort of his home. Kingshaw is tired of living like this. This lack of giving love and attachment leaves Kingshaw in a very vulnerable situation, really lonely and all by himslef.
Kingshaw right at the beginning suffers because of Edmund’s cruelty. Without having properly met Hooper he fears him, demonstrating lots of sensitivity. Initially he has some courage and after Hooper chalanges him by saying “Why have you come here?” and he “stands up his ground” by not speaking at all. Susan Hill introduces him as a very susceptible character. As he is defenseless, one of the first times Hooper threatens him, he “flushes brick red” and his visible distress ignites Edmund’s cruel streak even more. Hill does not allow Kingshaw to fight back or defend himslef. Instead, she keeps building up the tension throughout the whole book. Even though every reader would like Kingshaw to answer back to Hooper and get the liberty he diserves, she makes him sound as if he had the assurance that he is going to lose.
Even when he has the control, in Hangwoods, he dosen’t take advantage of the situation, showing he is good hearted and really needs someone close to him in his life, which is something he never really had. Hill presents to us lots of flaws connecting Kingshaw, most involving his emotions. When he is “searching feverishly” for his father’s picture just to prove to Edmund that his father took part of the army we have the impression that he is emotionally unstable. Kingshaw also sets us the image of a coward. He fears Edmund, but hates him on the inside. He demonstrates no stability and has thousand of thoughts that he needs to keep only to himself. Kingshaw has a desperate need of asserting himself to Hooper, clearly showing that he is dominated.
Throughout the novel, Charles’ increasing loneliness and desperation is demonstated by the heat in the plot. He is made as a prisoner by Hooper and is afraid to stay and afraid to leave. Hill uses short sentences to convey Kingshaw’s paranoia. She also pilles up sentences to create a hysterical effect and presents to us a sequence of fobias that Charles has to represent his insecurity and terror, such as his fear of water. Kingshaw lacks the strength of personality to defeat Hooper. Nature is an aspect Susan Hill used a lot to represent Kingshaw’s bareness.
The symbol she uses that most connects to Kingshaw are the moths. At the beginning of the book Hooper shows Kingshaw the collection of dead moths he has. The moths symbolize and represent Kingshaw because he is trapped at the house, suffering a lot, just like the moths in a piece of glass. Hill also includes lots of Kingshaw’s thoughts to the book showing us his clear desperation and anguish. The quote “the only thing Kingshaw knew is that it had to end” gives us an idea of the boy’s agony.
Edmund Hooper is a very equivocal character. He lost his mother and now lives in a claustrophobic environment which is The Warnings. He is harshly mean to Kingshaw by putting creatures in his bed, locking him up, haunting him and picking up his weak points. His father is daunting and lame to him. He is extrmely reluctant in being friends with Kingshaw, that seems to him as an intruder, but instead of leaving him alone he makes his life like hell. The loss of his mother affected Edmund alot and also pushed him away from his father. He is so lonely, he thinks he wants to be alone and take care of everything by himslef. He fools himself throughout the whole novel not noticing his need of companionship.
Edmund is presented by Susan Hill as a very rude, sadistic, spoiled and possesive child. When Kingshaw arrives at his house trying to be friendly, he quickly impresses him by stating “this is my house, I got here first, nobody should come here.” demonsatrating his selfishness. He is very closed and “would not give anything of himself away”. As well as creating a beast in Hooper, Susan Hill also shows us Hooper’s other side. The side of loneliness and sensitivity. An example of this is when he thinks “now I see why it is better to have a house like The Warnings”. Here, she shows us that Hooper is sensitive to emotions, as he can read other people’s emotions. Hooper knows nothing aboit warmth and affection, that is why he is so rough. “This house will belong to me, I shall be master” Edmund says to Kingshaw.
He is so used to being alone, that when he gets involved with other people he has this desire for command showing great possesion as well. Hooper is a master of torture. He mentions Kingshaws father, “when did he die? Hooper moved nearer, menancing” as if it was like nothing, symbolizing his coldness. Susan Hill saves lots of words (economy of words) increasing the dramatic effect between the two children. Hooper is considered an abnormal child. Hill makes he sound so mean that it can cause impact and even be shocking to the reader.
Hill also shows us how unhearted Hooper can be. He is callous toward’s death of humans or even animals, “You can’t do anything to it, its just a dead rabbit” Hooper says. His ability to twist situations makes him drown into more of his own loneliness. An example of this is when he hurts Kingshaw and goes to complain to his father saying “He punched me in my back, Kingshaw punched me.” Edmund has the power to convert every situation, he doesen’t have a happy life like all other children. Already with ten years old his life is full of anger, mean thoughts and plans to get what he wants.
In my opinion, all of the three characters are in need of affection and appreciation towards the whole novel. It is all a cycle. If Joseph Hooper wasn’t lonely, he probably wouldn’t treat Edmund in such a blind way and then Edmund would probably not bully Kingshaw actually forcing him to complete his tragic suicide. All of the three characters show explicit loneliness. Joseph nad his lack of confidence take him towards his simple boring and insignificant life. Edmund’s habit of being alone with no one looking after him leads him into a very narrowed mind, that suggests that he needs to be alone and be the best when actually the thing he most wants is enchantment and worship.
Kingshaw’s suffering mostly comes from his mother’s atitude, but he is so used to also being alone that he dosen’t attemp to save himself or ask for help, he gives up taking death as an easier option than persistance and fighting. Susan Hill’s cinematic view, helps to create tension and increases the characters feelings. The theme loneliness is carried through the whole book. It is actually the principal subject and doesen’t even get better at the end. As well as leading one of the characters to suicide, the loneliness remais because Hooper got what he wanted at the end but he is in fact still alone and miseralble with the same deterring father and Miss Kingshaw.