Evil is a strong feature of the story and shows itself mainly in the psychological violence of Hooper towards Kingshaw.
The physical violence of life on Fielding’s farm is not evil.
Hooper’s evil defies understanding because we do not understand what drives it. Kingshaw cannot understand H’s evil any more than Mr Hooper can fathom his son’s thoughts.
Ignorance and stupidity and lack of love allow evil to triumph. All that is necessary is that people should not care about each other. To Mrs K her son is an encumbrance a threat to her future happiness. She scolds him for wickedness when really it’s just childish naughtiness. Mr H senses something about his son which makes him uneasy even frightened but he does nothing about it.
The lack of any real love allows Hooper’s evil to grow unchallenged. His tormenting of K is done for no other reason than he wishes to behave this way; it affords him pleasure.
One readers dislike this book is because evil is seen to triumph yet uncomfortable though this book may be it is true to the experiences and feelings of many younger readers.
ISOLATION AND LONELINESS
There are several different kinds in the book.
- Single parent families;
- Warings – the house is set apart from other houses;
- no significant contact with the village
- house and nearby woods symbolise the characters’ isolation from each other
- each character is separated from people with whom they might once have had relationships.
- There is little real communication between family members
- Communication between Mr H and Mrs K seems to get confused and misinterpreted
- Mrs K thinks marriage will give her stability, security and acceptance
- Mr H thinks marriage will give him sexual fulfilment.
- Mrs K’s keenness not to favour her own son over Hooper leads to her virtually ignoring her son and leads in consequence to his total isolation and the inevitability of his actions.
With the exception of the Fielding family there is no love in this book.
However apart from Edmund all characters are desperately searching for it.
Fielding is the only person who is secure in the love of a normal family and is therefore not vulnerable to the stresses which plague most of the other characters.
The events are set against the weather, the changes and the seasons.
In contrast to the natural beauty of the landscape Warings is brutally ugly and dismal.
One side of nature is seen as actively violent like the crow and the thunderstorm, the wood and the dead rabbit. But the violence of nature is without malice unlike H’s vendetta against Kingshaw.
The crow is of course the exception to this since Kingshaw equates it with Hooper after it attacks him.
The moths are also a symbol of terror.
The world of nature is safe from human cruelty which is why Kingshaw feels at ease in the wood but the dead and rotting rabbit change his feelings.
His increasing sense of isolation is echoed by the stormy weather and the approach of Autumn.