Qn: In her after word, the writer talks about “the evil – for I think I evil-of Hooper”. What do you think the novel says about the nature of evil in people?
In my perspective, I do not believe that people are born evil. “Evil” is undisputedly an arbitrary term whereby different people have different scope of what evil is. Susan Hill’s definition of “evil” is that of Hooper -being sadistic and afflicting harm in others, as seen in Hooper. Yet, I feel that Hill’s definition of “evil” is rather cynical and biased. Hill should not even relate Hooper to “evil” in the first place, as the child is still growing up and does not know how to differentiate between good and bad, and the fact that he does not receive any love and care sort of make him an “emotionless” person.
Thus purely describing him as evil is somewhat biased. I think better adjectives to describe him are probably contumacious and unfeeling. In my essay, I’ll first prove that Hooper’s cruelty is due to his lack of fundamental love and care and that it is due to some circumstances that drove him to be who he is. Secondly, I’ll prove that Hooper cannot be really blamed for his evilness, and lastly, I’ll counter opposing arguments put across and further reinforce on my motion.
Firstly, the fact that Hooper is cruel cannot be denied. Yet, one must take into consideration that it is the environment and external influences that led him to be evil. Hooper is born into a dysfunctional family. His mother died when he was very young, and that deprived him of mother-love, which is often thought to be very important and influential during a child’s growing phase. In addition, Hooper’s situation is made worse due to lack of father’s care and understanding. Hooper is thus deprived of any love and care, which any other normal child would have gotten. Thus, he could only turn to being evil, probably to attract attention from his only kin, which is his father.
Hooper’s hostile attitude towards Kingshaw indeed makes readers feel indignant. However, the crucial point here, which I feel, is why Hooper is so mean towards Kingshaw. It is a fact that all living beings need companionship. Hooper’s cruelty towards Kingshaw could be a way he shows affection. Well, we never know for sure how some people choose to show affection. And cruelty could be how Hooper chooses to show. Furthermore, Hooper has never ever experienced the true feeling of love and care.
So most probably, he doesn’t know anything about love. So, that explains why he thinks cruelty is a form of affection. Taking for instance the case of ailing pets. Veterinarians and pet lovers, in a bid to stop their precious pets from suffering more pain, put them to sleep. This, irrefutable, is a cruel thing, but it is a way pet lover show their affection towards their pets. Now, are their actions really evil and inhumane? I, basically, think this action is not a cruel thing, but rather, something piteous as it helps to alleviate the pet’s pain.
Basically, this sentence sums up that the fact that I do not believe that people are born evil, but rather it is “nurture”, rather “nature”, that turns people evil.
In addition, Hooper’s actions, to me, can be justified as being selfish rather than evil. We all know that Hooper is possessive. He wants Warings to himself and does not waste any attempt drive away “redundant people” living in Warings. His actions are certainly more of Selfishness than Evilness. The fact that Hooper is merely a young child further accentuates and explains why he is so selfish. Afterall, young child are more self-centered and possessive. This can be illustrated by the fact that a young child only accepts their parents’ full, unscattered love and concern, and more often than ever, news of the arrival of another child, only make them fret about the amount on concern they would receive. Thus, Hooper’s selfishness is somehow understandable.
On the other side of the coin, Kingshaw is undoubtedly kind. Critics have commented on Kingshaw as having “natural goodness”. Now, the question is, if people are born evil, then why is Kingshaw still so kind? Kingshaw has been inundated with taunts and torments from Hooper. Yet, there is still this tinge of kindness inside him that made him remain good right from the start, albeit he did harbour some ill intentions of harming Hooper initially (“had only to move his hand…so that he would topple through the well of the staircase”, chapter 2). So, if people were to born evil, then, why is Kingshaw still benevolent? Therefore, my motion, that people are not born evil, is further reinforced here.
In conclusion, I’d like to state that it is nurture, not nature, that made Hooper evil, and that people are certainly not born evil. Perhaps one simple analogy one to reinforce my point is that when an adopted child commits a crime, the ones he would blame are definitely his foster parents and not his natural parents. Why? Because it’s nurture rather than nature, that makes one who he is. With this, I end my essay.