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Compare the ways in which Gilbert Dawson of The Sexton's Hero and Boo Radley of Too Kill A Mockingbird are similar and differentin their experiences as outcasts and heroes.

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Introduction

Comparing the works of Elizabeth Gaskell and Harper Lee Compare the ways in which Gilbert Dawson of The Sexton's Hero and Boo Radley of Too Kill A Mockingbird are similar and different in their experiences as outcasts and heroes. There are many similarities and differences between the character of Gilbert Dawson in Elizabeth Gaskell's The Sexton's Hero and that of Boo Radley of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. Both of these character experience a time in which they are outcasts of their local society and those close to them. However, later on, they re-emerge as heroes. Their experiences as outcasts and heroes are both similar and different in a number of ways, but despite the broad time difference and setting between the two pieces, the overall moral of these works allows the reader to understand that some humans react to danger by heroic deeds, risking their lives for the sake of others. One major difference between the two works is that Gaskell's piece is a short story; whereas Lee's piece is a full length novel. Also, there is nearly a century separating Gaskell's English story from Lee's southern American novel. This is exemplified through the type of language and style of prose they use. Elizabeth Gaskell's work uses long, descriptive sentences which at times ramble. In the case of The Sexton's Hero, there is a lengthily, expressive introduction before the actual story itself begins to unfold. This is typical of pre-20th Century writing. She makes use of many old fashioned words which we would not use in modern times, and highly formal paragraphs which lengthen the piece with complex sentences. The texture of the story is thickened, narrated by a boy, who is listening along with his friend Jeremy to a Sexton. The Sexton is telling them the story of Gilbert Dawson as an interior narrator. An example of Gaskell's unique style of writing comes in the second paragraph of The Sexton's Hero in which the unnamed narrator, who in fact tells ...read more.

Middle

Upon arriving in Lindal, Gilbert was "thrown together" with the Sexton, who describes him as "about as strapping a chap as I was" (17), as they both worked for the Liverpool coopers at the bay. The two became friends, though the Sexton wanted to "put [his] best leg foremost to be equal with Gilbert" (17), as he was obviously impressed by the newcomer and wanted to be as much like him as he could. He was also ashamed of his rough nature and didn't want Gilbert to see it. But at the same, the Sexton had fallen in love with a girl named Letty who Gilbert had also taken a liking. He was angered because Letty seemed to be returning Gilbert's affection. From then, the Sexton "[began] to hate him for everything he did", which destroyed their former friendship, becoming more and more jealous of him "whene'er he did a thing which caught Letty's eye" (18). After a while, the Sexton decided to challenge Gilbert to an argument, but Gilbert "would not fight no-how" (18). It was this action that caused him to instantly become an outcast of the society for his cowardice. As seen before, the community turned against him, almost immediately, with taunts "as if he'd been a monkey or a foreigner" (19) and calling him names such as "coward" and "quaker" (TSH, 19), as an incident of cowardice had never been seen before in Lindal. He was also rejected by Letty, who married the Sexton. What is similar between Gilbert's experiences and those of Boo is that both became outcasts through their own actions. Boo's actions are among the first thing we learn upon reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Boo is first mentioned in chapter one, and is described as a "malevolent phantom" (14) whom neither Jem nor Scout have seen before. From this we gain the impression that Boo is the unseen eccentric, subject of all rumors and mysterious happenings in Maycomb, whose house is shunned by the community; especially the Finch children and Dill. ...read more.

Conclusion

His heroic act is similar to Gilbert's as he puts his life in mortal danger for those close to him, as he has looked down on Scout and Jem as his own children and friends. Although his actions are not recognized, Scout has a new and better respect for him, as the Sexton has for Gilbert. She tells Atticus that "he was real nice" (287). This theme of a taking a new understanding to people is a key theme to the novel and helps Scout to mature greatly as a result. Overall, the characters of Gilbert Dawson of The Sexton's Hero and Boo Radley of To Kill A Mockingbird are very similar in their experiences as both outcasts and heroes, despite the different time and setting of the two pieces and styles of the authors. Both characters are key factors of the works that help to deliver an important moral to the reader. Gilbert's story delivers a message of courage and bravery, whereas Boo's is a message about the proper understanding of people. We learn, however, that despite the very distant time and geographical setting of both works, the ways in which human beings react to danger have not changed. Both Gilbert and Boo put their lives at stake to save someone close to them, even though they are outcasts of their local society. But these heroic acts are recognized by the other characters, some more major than others. Even though the characters are no longer heard of, they gain new and higher respect. Wide Reading Comparing the works of Elizabeth Gaskell and Harper Lee List of works consulted - Gaskell, Elizabeth - The Sexton's Hero in Naylor, Louise (editor) (1997) The New Windmill Book of Stories from Other Times Heinemann New Windmills Pages 14-29 - Lee, Harper (1960) To Kill A Mockingbird MB. Heinemann New Windmills, Oxford - Mary Hartley with Tony Buzan Teach Yourself Literature Guides To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee Hodder & Stoughton A.D March 2003 Joseph Smith, 5 Garnet Wide Reading Coursework ...read more.

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