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In her short story

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In her short story "the Half brothers" how does Elizabeth Gaskell manipulate the readers feelings? 'The Half-Brothers" is a story written in the mid-1900's by a middle-class Victorian writer called Elizabeth Gaskell. She has a strong moral interest in the difficulties of poor people who lived in abject poverty. This is what inspired her to write stories such as "The Half-Brothers". Some of her characters in this short story are described in such a way as to provoke sympathy and admiration for them from the reader. However other characters have much more depth to them and are more complicated. The suspense she creates in the particularly dramatic episode set in the Fells in the north of England also manipulates the reader's feelings. The first character we are introduced to is Helen- the narrator's mother. She is a very sympathetic character. Almost immediately the writer starts to gain our pity for Helen. She was so young when she was first married- "scarcely seventeen" in fact, and her husband was barely "one and twenty". Both of these emphasises how very young they were when they entered into such a great commitment of marriage. Things did not go well for her from the start. The small farm they rented only brought them into more debt but she defended her first husband by saying "perhaps he was too young and inexperienced". No blame is put on anyone for what ahs happened and this helps to show Helen's peaceful character. ...read more.


The regard that Gregory is given from Preston after his death can do no good for him now, as Gregory has already sacrificed himself for Preston's own son. Elizabeth Gaskell also describes Gregory in an admirable way, just as she did with Helen. He is a very forgiving person and will respond to cruelty with kindness. We can see an example of this when it says he would "try to do a good turn for anyone, even if they had been scolding him or cuffing him not a minute before." Adam had a lot to praise Gregory for and therefore there is obviously something to admire about him. We should also admire him for these properties. In the Episode on the Fells Gregory "recognised the peculiar phase of suffering". This shows his sensitivity, that he can empathise with his half brother's suffering. Gregory is looking out for his half brother and 'tenderly covered [him] up'. This shows the extent of his fraternal love despite how badly the narrator had treated Gregory. There is a strong contrast that we can see between the narrator's selfishness and Gregory's selflessness. He does not even make a fuss about the sacrifice he knows he is going to make. This self-sacrifice Gregory makes for his half-brother despite how badly he has treated him is one of the most admirable things that could possibly be done. A lasting impression of what Gregory did is shown by the phrase "he was strangely in our thoughts" but was never spoken off. ...read more.


This makes suspense, as we want to know if both will be saved. There is also no swift solution and they have to make very slow progress even though they are quickly getting trapped. The idea earlier about claustrophobia is again reinforced by the "thick closing pressing darkness." It is now becoming a threat to their lives and is a life or death situation. They must 'walk for dear life' or will be 'frozen to death.' A 'deadly fatal sleep' is described. He may slip into unconsciousness and will be a danger to his life if sleep does successfully 'steal' over him. A tautology 'deadly fatal' is once again used to emphasise how grave the situation has become. They have run out of ideas of how to be saved their 'only' chance is in Lassie. The suspense then ends at what seems to be a blackout. We find out about Gregory's death a few lines later with "a look passed from one to another." I felt Elizabeth Gaskell manipulated my feelings very well in a wide variety of ways. I thought Helen and Gregory were the type of people who we would like to aspire to. I had a lot of mixed feelings towards Preston, as he was very a complicated character. I thought his character was described very well but also very originally. However, I cannot come to a conclusion on how I feel towards him. I thought the fells episode was quite exciting and suspense was built up very well in it. ...read more.

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