• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A Comparison of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'The Withered Arm'

Extracts from this document...


A Comparison of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'The Withered Arm' Thomas Hardy wrote 'The Withered Arm' in 1874, and Harper Lee wrote 'To Kill a Mockingbird' in 1960. In both texts 'outsiders' form the basis of the plot. The dictionary definition of an outcast, or outsider, is 'a person who is rejected or excluded from a social group'. There are many causes that make people outcasts: class, colour, disability, or any difference from the majority of the social group in which they are supposedly meant to be included. In each text, outsiders are presented as people with obvious differences from the 'norm' - for example, in 'The Withered Arm', Rhoda is presented as an outsider by 'Their course lay apart from the others, to a lonely spot'. This immediately shows that other people see Rhoda and her illegitimate son as outsiders, or that they isolate themselves from society and this makes them outsiders. This isolation from society is also shown by the Radley family in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Both Rhoda and the Radley family choose to separate themselves from other people, but for different reasons. Rhoda does it because of her son and the rumours that surround her, whereas the Radley family stays away from Maycomb life for religious reasons 'so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one'. ...read more.


There is some evidence to her being a witch, though she does not know it or wish this to be so 'something greater in the occult world than she had ever herself suspected'. In certain ways, Rhoda Brook can be compared to Boo Radley. Both characters are isolated by imposing male figures (Boo's father and Farmer Lodge), then isolate themselves - Boo because of his hermit-like ways, Rhoda because of her illegitimate child. Both characters are feared by society, and both are subjected to rumours. However, there is some evidence that Rhoda does have supernatural powers; whereas Scout fears Boo because of stories she has heard from Jem and adults. Boo adds fear and tension to the beginning of the novel, but as Scout grows older, she fears him less, and when she finally meets him she feels no fear at all 'Hello Boo'. I feel this relationship could also represent, or be a result of, Scout's changing outlook on the world. As she learns more about the Tom Robinson trial, and listens to people like Atticus and Ms Maudie, the influences on her life become much less prejudiced and her attitude towards other outsiders in the book changes. She refers much more to Atticus' philosophy: 'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view', which increases her empathy with outsiders in the text. ...read more.


Both characters are very helpful, and will do jobs for nothing. Higher-class members of society use them for their skills. This makes Trendle and Tom quite similar underneath, though not so upon the surface. Trendle can also be compared to Boo, because both are outsiders that shape the final outcomes of the storylines. Both outcomes relate strongly to the social and historical contexts of the plots, and both seem to have morals. In 'The Withered Arm' I feel that one of the main morals is 'treat others as you would like to be treated' because Rhoda is punished for her malicious intent with the unneeded death of her son. Gertrude is also punished for her wishing for a person to die 'Oh - I hope not' (for the hanging not to go ahead), even when she knows that the person is innocent, with her own death. In 'To Kill a Mockingbird' I think that the main moral is, of course, Atticus' philosophy, which is based on the idea of empathy. From this empathy, Scout learns to be honest, kind and unprejudiced to everyone she meets. Scout also learns how to 'be a lady', but this is more to do with Alexandra teaching her about etiquette rather than specific morals in the plot. Both texts use pathetic fallacy: 'weather was unusually warm' and 'the wind howled dismally'. However, Harper uses hot weather to show tension, whereas Hardy uses wind and wet weather. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Harper Lee section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Harper Lee essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Examine the different kinds of prejudice and injustice which you have found in 'To ...

    4 star(s)

    In particular, they are prejudiced towards Scout for the clothes she chooses to wear and her behaviour. They find it improper that she wears dungarees and jeans so they try to manipulate her into wearing 'appropriate' clothes like a 'normal girl' should wear.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Imagery and Symbolism

    He compared Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children and Maycomb thought he was trying to write an editorial to be reprinted in the Montgomery Advertiser." Chapter 25 (Pg 265), this emphasises the part symbolism plays because of the way that Tom Robinson was innocent,

  1. To kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee uses the mockingbird theme with both ...

    Tom said "lemme outa here" an' I tried to run but she got her back to the door an' I'da had to push her. I didn't wanta harm her. Then Mr Ewell hollered through th' window. Somethin not fittin' to say - not fittin' for these folk's chillun to hear.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    His strangeness leaves them wanting to know more and more, and the creation of stories occurs partially out of their curiosity and desire to shed light on something strange. Likewise, the townspeople have a tendency to react disfavorably to things that are "different" until they have reasons to understand the difference.

  1. What do we learn about Maycomb society in Harper Lee's; To Kill a Mockingbird?

    Atticus cares about his family and seems to be the perfect father. His parenting style is quite unique in that he treats his children as adults, honestly answering any question they have. He uses all these instances as an opportunity to pass his values on to Scout and Jem.

  2. What important lessons do the children learn in Part I of 'To Kill a ...

    Atticus says that: 'We could not expect her to learn all Maycomb's ways in one day, and could not hold her responsible when she knew no better.' She had not grown up in Maycomb, so was not accustomed to the different families and ways of life.

  1. Many characters in To Kill A Mockingbird are isolated from mainstream society. Discuss the ...

    Bob Ewell is isolated because many people in Maycomb regard him and his family as the "disgrace of Maycomb". Atticus' apt description of them was "They were people, but they lived like animals." A widower with eight children, he is jobless and a reputed drunk.

  2. To Kill a Mockingbird Lit Review

    He was the moral backbone of Maycomb, someone others trusted in times of trouble and confusion. Even though his actions were not always supported by his friends and family, especially during the Tom Robinson case, Atticus never stopped being a character that was respected by those around him.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work