The Half Brothers" is a short nineteenth century story, written by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in 1858.
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Katherine Mason 10 TH S Southmoor 39555 "The Half Brothers" By Elizabeth Gaskell. "The Half Brothers" is a short nineteenth century story, written by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in 1858. Elizabeth Gaskell was well known for her 'fondness' of deathbed scenes and long, delirious illnesess brought about by grief. The style of her stories contian a lot of over sentimentality, bordering on the melodramatic. "The Half Brothers" is set in rural, Victorian Britain, written as a first person narrative, containing many Victorianisms, for example; "He was barely one- and- twenty..." and the words, "fain" and "bade". "Of Mice and Men is a twentieth century novel, written by John Steinbeck in 1937, as a third person narrative. It is set on a ranch, in rural America. The language used contains many Americanisms such as, "...jungle-up...," meaning to set up camp. Again, this story is sentimental. The characters in both books come from a poor social background. The narrator in "The Half Brothers" is autobiographically portraying his family background. He mentions his mother's first husband who died of consumption, three years after they were married. At this time his mother had a young daughter and was pregnant with her second child. This second child was born a week after the daughter died. He was Gregory, the narrator's half-brother. William Preston was Helen's second husband, and the narrator's father. The two main characters, Gregory and his half-brother were blood relatives but were not close to one another.
This metaphor emphasises William Preston's love for Helen. Elizabeth Gaskell describes Helen's last moments with great sentimentality. Elizabeth Gaskell gains the reader's sympathy when she describes how Gregory was brought and laid beside his new half brother in their dying mother's bed. The narrator says: "She made him take hold of my little hand." I think the adjective "little" makes the two small boys seem very vulnerable and the reader feels sympathy for them. In modern day terms, this scene would seem quite "cheesy". At the age of 19 the narrator was sent on an errand by his father to a place about seven miles by road but only four miles over the fells. His father warned him to make his return journey by road as the evenings were closing in early and often became misty. Adam, the old shepherd who was now, "paralytic and bedridden" had also warned of a downfall of snow. The narrator decided not to heed the warnings and set off to return over the fells. This situation has similarities to the lead up to Lennie's death in "Of Mice and Men". Both men find themselves isolated. As darkness fell, the narrator soon became lost. The narrator states: "...it seemed so weird and strange in that noiseless expanse of darkness." I think that this statement creates an element of fear and suspense. As the snow started to fall, the narrator began to panic losing all sense of direction.
He was dead. Gregory died in a deserted place beside his half brother. He sacrificed his life for him. Lennie also died in a deserted place with George. George sacrificed Lennie's life because he knew he was a danger to himself and others. We could not help feeling sympathetic towards Lennie, he never meant any of the bad things he did, and only dreamt of a life with George and rabbits. Lennie was unaware that he was about to die. Gregory knew the risks of the fells and chose to risk his life to save his half brother. He had had a miserable life and was treated as an outsider by his family. I don't think he valued his life very highly. I think that the melodramatic reaction of William Preston to Gregory's death was because he felt guilty. He gave him nothing he was alive but said that he would have: "...blessed him as my son- had he lived." The reader knows that if he had lived, this would not have happened. His desire to have Gregory laid at the foot of the narrator's, mother's grave was meant to impress others, to make amends for the past. I don't find it very convincing. After George shot Lennie, he did not need to justify his actions. He felt he had done the right thing. I prefer John Steinbeck's style of writing to Elizabeth Gaskell's as it is much easier to understand. He creates his characters and atmosphere in a convincing way without all the melodrama used by Elizabeth Gaskell.
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