• 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)

    Prejudice is largely directed towards the Radley family. The Maycomb community consider them odd for not following local customs and traditions. They regard the Radleys as outsiders and outcasts. The children of Maycomb are fascinated by what lies behind their closed door.

  2. How influential is the setting of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' to the novel's plot ...

    Another important theme in the book is sexism. Unlike racism most victims of sexism don't mind it. Most people are happy to conform to the stereotype. The stereotypical male likes sport, owns a gun and enjoys shooting. The stereotypical female does cooking wears dresses and looks after the children.

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

    She needs to understand that Walter knows no better and this relates to when Atticus says, 'could not hold her responsible when she knew no better' but in Walter's case it is not about knowing the ways of Maycomb, but about how he has been brought up and those ways have stuck.

  2. How effectively does Harper Lee convey her ideas about prejudice in her novel To ...

    Another one is pg.. 249 'I mean in Maycomb County. The thing about it is, our kind of folks don't like the Cunninghams, the Cunninghams don't like the Ewells, and the Ewells hate and despise the coloured folks.' This shows clear dislike for the assumed lower class; however, unfairly coloured

  1. What impressions are there of life in Maycomb in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

    "In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square." Maycomb seems to be an innocent, peaceful town when first seen. Harper Lee proves to show this is a misconception made by outsiders.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    Jem makes her spit it out. Later, toward the end of the school year, they find in the same place a little box with two polished Indian-head pennies inside - these are good luck tokens. They aren't sure whether these have been left for them, but decide to take them anyway.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird Notes - Characters, Themes & Quotes

    * " Let the dead bury the dead this time Mr.Finch" * Misjudges Bob Ewell "What on earth could Ewell do to me, sister?" * Respected by everyone: Mr Underwood had Atticus "covered" with his shotgun, during the mob scene.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird

    By the end of the novel, Scout sees through all of the prejudice to the real human inside every Maycomb Town citizen, whatever race, class or gender. She believes in the morals her father brings her up with: that it is what is inside someone that makes them a good

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