The portrayal of parent / child relationships in the two novels Essay
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A good parent / child relationship, in my opinion, requires good communication levels (ie. they listen to each other), trust, disipline, respect and of course love. These novels portray very varied types of parent / child relationships. For example, in I’m the king of the castle, neither parent / child relationship, in general, is particularly good. The first encounter of a parent / child relationship is the one between Mr Hooper and his son Edmund (Hooper). The conversation that they have with each other is not typical of a father and son.
The whole text seems very informal and cold, almost as if they were strangers. This is evident for instance when Mr Hooper says things like; “Edmund, you will not be difficult, please, I have a good deal to do, I cannot waste time in foolish arguments”.
This is the kind of formal and precise lauguage that you might expect he may use talking to a business partner not his own son. It seems that Mr Hooper, even though he has had a son for 11 years, is not very used to being around children. I think this is because Hooper is sent to a boarding school from a very young age and not had very much contact with his father. Comparing this kind of relationship with the relationship between Silas and Eppie in Silas Marner, it is very interesting to see the differences. Before Eppie even arrives in the book, the reader gets a very clear image of Silas in their head. He seems like a cold, distant, anti – social character, maybe incapable of loving anything (apart from the gold) or anyone .As soon as he lays eyes on baby Eppie, we see a whole different Silas.
He starts to care about someone and we see the remarkably close relationship between himself and Eppie. He feels protective over her and cannot bear to see her in any discomfort. As at this stage Eppie is unable to talk, it is hard to directly compare the two relationships but I can clearly see the differences. I said earlier that a good parent / child relationship consists of good communication. Mrs Kingshaw and Charles (Kingshaw) probably have the worst communication in the whole novel. Throughout the book, Mrs Kingshaw is repeatedly portrayed as a ‘bad’ parent because she (unknowingly to herself) continues to ignore the evil bullying that is being carried out by Hooper. Even when her own son is crying out for help, she tells him to ‘stop being so silly’.
She strongly contradicts herself by asking Kingshaw if he has any problems and that she if always here for him. When he does finally decide to express his feelings, she immediately tells him that he is wrong. This, again, is a strong contrast to the relationship between Silas and Eppie in Silas Marner. Silas and Eppie have a close bond since the beginning and therefore have strong communication levels way beyond the Hoopers and the Kingshaws. This is evident when the text descibes them both having conversations with each other (when Eppie is older) about every aspects of life – however small or trivial. When Eppie starts to consider marriage with Aaron, she discusses it with Silas first, as if to get his permission. This is a fine example of good communication in a parent / child relationship.
Mr Hooper and Hooper obviously do not have very clear channels of communication whereas Silas and Eppie know everything about each other and tell each other everything.
I also said that a good p/c relationship needs to have trust and disipline. Mr Hooper does not seem to even know his own son as this is evident as I read further into the book, so I doubt if he trusts him very much. I feel that neither Mr Hooper or Mrs Kingshaw know how to disipline children properly as both of them see their children differently to the reader. I think that if Mr Hooper was confronted with the fact that his son was a bully, he would dismiss it and say that no child of his could do such a thing. I think he is blind to the fact that Hooper is causing Kingshaw so much misery and torment. Mrs Kingshaw is also blind to the fact that Hooper could be a bully. She does not even believe her own son when he tells her about Hooper which tells the reader that Mrs Kingshaw is either extremely stupid or refusing to believe Kingshaw, just for her own reassurance.
This means that Hooper is left completely undisiplined and even more sure that he can get away with bullying Kingshaw. Hooper seems to be trusted by his father but wrongly of course. Mrs Kingshaw most certainly does not trust Kingshaw as she refuses to believe a word he says related to Hooper. This is evident when she says things like; “Oh, that is a wicked, wicked way to talk, whatever can you be thinking about? Whatever can poor Edmund have done to you?” This is a classic line from Mrs Kingshaw, telling the reader that she is definitely on Hooper’s ‘side’. I think that she is on Hoopers ‘side’ rather than her own son’s because she is becoming very fond of Mr Hooper.
I think she maybe be very desparate to hang onto her new life in this new house and with her new man and is willing to block out any potential problems that may take away her new life. This means that she is not prepared to be in anyway nasty or accusing towards Mr Hoopers son and thinks it is safer to just disbelieve her own son and pretend that it is not happening. Silas Marner, on the other hand, also faces difficulties disiplining Eppie but for different reasons.
One being that he cannot bear to see Eppie in any pain, discomfort or slight upset in anyway. Even when Eppie does something wrong, like wondering out of the house by herself, Silas cannot punish her as he loves her too much to hurt her. As it happens Eppie grows up to be a nice, polite and unspoilt young woman, but sometimes children may begin to take advantage of the fact that they never get told off. Silas is always very concerned when Eppie is in any discomfort and tries his hardest to make her feel happy again. He does not stop to think about himself at all when he is looking after Eppie, unlike Mr Hooper and Mrs Kingshaw who continuously just think of themselves and their new relationship with each other.
Another vital aspect of good parenting is having respect for each other. Mrs Kingshaw shows a great lack of respect for her son as she never seems to take his pleas for help seriously. She still evidently treats him like a small child even though he is facing a somewhat ‘older – child’ problem. I feel that she sometimes mocks Kingshaw, unknowingly. For example when she is having what she thinks is a heart – to – heart conversation with her son, she tries to encourage Kingshaw to tell her his worries by saying; “You would tell Mummy, wouldn’t you? It is probably such a tiny thing bothering you, we could clear it up at once, and everything would be quite alright again.”
This is the first time Mrs Kingshaw asks Kingshaw if he actually has a problem and yet she still uses the most patronising terms such as ‘mummy’ and ‘everything would be quite alright again’ as if Kingshaw was a baby. I think her use of language puts him off telling her anything completely as he fears that yet again, she will not take him seriously. Later in the conversation when he expreses his feelings of hatred towards Hooper, Mrs Kingshaw immediately proves him right and calls him wicked and refers to Hooper as; ‘Poor Edmund’. I think that as a result of Mrs Kingshaw’s lack of respect for Kingshaw, Kingshaw has a lack of respect for his mother. Mr Hooper and Hooper also seem to have no respect for each other. I think that Mr Hooper only really cares about the accademic side to Hooper and how well he does at school. I think that he thinks that it is a ‘mother’s job’ to look after the emotional side of things. Right from the start Mr Hooper shows a lack of acknowledgment for his son and he blames this on the premature death of Hooper’s mother and that it is no fault of his own. I think that as long as Mr Hooper fails to recognise the evilness of his own son then he cannot possibly have any respect for him.
Silas and Eppie have mountainous amounts of respect for each other. This is evident in scenes such as when Godfrey and Nancy come to their cottage and try to claim Eppie. When Eppie herself is forced do decide weather she should go and live with her wealthy, upper – class birth father or Silas, Silas does nothing to stand in her way; ” Eppie, my child, speak. I wont stand in your way. Thank Mr and Mrs Cass”. Silas obviously wants Eppie to stay with him, but he respects her so much and trusts her so much that he knows she will do what she thinks is right for herself. Eppie in the end politely refuses Godfrey and Nancy’s offer and stays loyally by Silas’ side as she does throughout the whole scene (another example of their closeness).
As Eppie grows older, she remains devoted to her ‘father’ and Silas stays the same towards Eppie. Their relationship is one to admire because they both understand each other totally and never fail to keep each other happy.
I think that the last and most important aspect of a successful parent / child relationship is love. Love is vital in any relationship but in a parent/child relationship it is usually taken for granted by the child. Some people may say, that looking at Mrs Kingshaw and Mr Hoopers behaviour that they are bad parents and therefore do not love their children. I think that all of the parents in the two novels love their children very much but in I’m the king of the castle the love is hidden by the lack of understanding that they both have from their children. The simple fact is that Mrs Kingshaw and Mr Hooper do not know how to be good parents. If they were showed how then I am sure that they would be much more considerate towards their own children. Silas and Eppie, although not biologically related, are much more aware of their mutual love for each other and therefore all the other aspects of a good relationship fall into place (ie. good communication, trust, disipline and respect).
I think that the reason Mr Hooper and Mrs Kingshaw have such bad relationships with their children and Silas Marner has such a good one has nothing to do with the circumstances that each of the families are in. In fact it seems to contradict what would usually be presumed. There are very different settings in which each of these books take place. In ‘I’m the king of the castle’ the story is set in countryside England in the 20th century and in ‘Silas Marner’ the story is set in the early 19th century. Some people could say that in the 19th century it was a very isolated world compared to the mass communication levels we have today. For instance, they had no telephones or any electricity at all so found it harder to communicate with people than we do today. In Silas Marner’s time, communication, other than in person, was extremely difficult if not impossible, so generally people tended not to know people outside of their own village or town.
Children were not sent away to boarding school unlike in I’m the king of the castle where both children went to boarding school and therefore saw less of their parents. As for Silas, Eppie had never even been away from home ever and he had witnessed everything in her life unlike Mr Hooper and Mrs Kingshaw who didn’t seem to even know their own children. The elements of a good parent / child relationship have probably not changed over the past 150 years. Communication, trust, respect, disipline and love were and still are necessary but society’s view on the family has changed dramatically. In Silas Marner’s time, marrying someone of a different social class was unheard of, nevermind having children with them. I think this made more families in this time more determined to have a happy family and remain together.
Eppie is brought up in the most difficult and challenging circumstances but it turns out that Kingshaw and Hooper are the unhappy ones and not Eppie. I think that this totally proves that it does not matter if you are rich/poor, upper class/lower class when it comes to having a successful family and that it all comes down to the amount of love that you have for your family.