Explore Susan Hill's use of setting in the first six chapters of ' I'm the King of the Castle '.
In the first six chapters of Susan Hill's 'I'm the King of the Castle, she uses many settings to create an overall sense of tension and atmosphere. The settings that I am going to explore are: Warings; the red room and hang wood.
Very early on in the novel we are introduced to Warings, a big house which Joseph Hooper inherits from his dad who was a successful business man, he then moves in along with his son Edmund. 'Warings was ugly. It was entirely graceless, rather tall angled built of dark red bricks, here the house is described, as it being rather ugly, this is an example of imagery- frightening as the red bricks relate to a blood colour. It holds no memories of family happiness; this creates a gloomy, dismal atmosphere from the beginning.
Warings, with its ancient family history and an intimating look from the outside, and many rooms gives you no feeling of warmth or homeliness like an ordinary house would do. The writer also gives us descriptions of the features in the house: 'high ceiling rooms, with heavy, sashed windows, the oak wall- panelling and the oak doors, the massive furniture' this highlights the unwelcoming, dark, heaviness of the house. There is also a lot of imagery created by use of surrounding landscape, such as the ancient 'yew trees'- evergreen trees which can live for hundreds of years and are often in churches and usually symbolise sadness because their branches were used as funeral decorations, there are also dark green rhododendrons represent more gloomy atmosphere, there is also crows mentioned several times, those birds are traditionally a representative of death.
One of the most significant settings- the red room which is a room full of displays of dead moths and dusty old books suggesting their preoccupation with the dead and useless things at the expense of family relationships. Warings is always surrounded by the constant presence of death due to the atmosphere in the house largely created by the red room; this is represented by the dead butterflies and moths in the room. Edmund is fascinated by them, this highlights Edmund's character: we see his coldness to others, his lack of fear in the house and his independence, which contrasts massively to Charles- he has a fear of the moths in the red room and feels very embarrassed sharing that. Hooper visits the room at night alone and touches a moth which disintegrates into dust, another representative of death, the moths all pinned down dead symbolises the feeling of being trapped; the moths couldn't get free, this relates to Kingshaw as he is entrapped in Warings with Hooper. Soon after there is another sense of being trapped; the writer relates as Warings (including the red room) as a place full of claustrophobic entrapment. Edmund runs out of the room and locks Charles inside, instead of crying for help he stays quiet and waits until he can hear someone outside.
Finally, the main setting- Hang wood. Many big events happen here I the woods, Kingshaw escaspes, the boys get lost and Hang Wood becomes very significant towards the end of the novel. We are first taken to Hang Wood when Kingshaw escapes from Warings whist the parents were away, for freedom from Hooper, not long after Hooper finds him and sticks with him. This event may emphasise the fact the entrapment of Kingshaw; that he couldn't manage to escape from Hooper for very long until he finds him where he expected freedom and peace. The name 'Hang Wood' may imply death and hints of the tragic event which takes place at the end of the novel. Whilst Hooper and Kingshaw are in the woods, on numerous occasions Hooper gets scared, this is from the nature e.g. when there was lightening Hooper was frightened this is a shock because the initial thought would be to think that it would be Kingshaw who were to be afraid of nature as he was of the moths but as we see, this is not the case; he is rather familiar with nature and he instead takes role of the leader whilst walking throughout the woods. Furthermore, this demonstrates even more Kingshaw's sense of freedom and relaxation that he has in the woods. Overall, Hang wood symbolises Kingshaw's freedom and escape however it also symbolises the complete opposite- Kingshaw's lack of freedom and how he is totally trapped by Hooper.
In conclusion, the settings Susan Hill included in this novel are very important; practically the whole novel focuses on the setting and it not only changes the characters but gives you the chance to see the true them. Overall, all 3 settings in the book that I explored, all symbolise death somehow.