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

Techniques and Themes in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Extracts from this document...


Techniques and Themes in Harper Lee?s ?To Kill a Mockingbird?. Harper Lee effectively creates a sense of atmosphere by building up tension with fast paced events that happen suddenly and unexpectedly. She uses relaxed dialogue as a source of background information, and varies the sentence structures and lengths to keep the storyline and the writing itself interesting. To add to the atmosphere, she makes great use of cliff-hangers at the end of various chapters, such as at the end of chapter four ? ?Someone inside the house was laughing.? ? and the end of chapter six ? ?I did not hear him stir again.? This is very effective since it makes the reader want to read on and learn more, creating an atmosphere of mystery and lack of awareness of the events. Rather than telling the reader what is happening, as commonly occurs in novels, she keeps major pieces of information from the reader, enabling the eventual revelations which occur bit-by-bit to be more shocking and surprising to the reader. In addition to this, Harper Lee makes use of gothic imagery, adding highly unusual occurrences to the plot ? such as the snow, the mad dog in February, and the fire ...read more.


In my opinion, the most important theme in the novel ? and if not the novel, then the first part - is definitely that of the coexistence of good and evil. It is literally embodied by the idea of the Radley family, since Boo lives in a house with first an abusive father and then an abusive brother. The exploration of human nature and its? morals concentrates mostly on whether people are essentially good or essentially evil. Atticus contradicts this in a way by trying to see both the good and the bad in people, but in another way he is the true lesson of the novel. He tries to teach the children how important it is to appreciate the good and bad in people without losing faith in human nature, and to try to see life from their perspective ? to ?try to climb into their skin and walk around in it.? This is closely intertwined with the heavy importance of moral education throughout the novel. The main point that Harper Lee tries to make is that the most important traits to have are those of sympathy, understanding, honesty, and justice. ...read more.


This use of a novel is unusual now and would be even more so at the time of writing, possibly segregating Lee from her community for such a massive strike out against racism and discrimination. Her bravery in this is impressive ? the message is clear that racism is very definitely wrong. The only way the main characters (Scout and Jem) can make peace with the inlaid prejudice in their hometown is by taking Atticus?s view that it is simply something that has been fed into most of the townsfolk, that they have been brainwashed with, rather than an actual opinion that they uphold. However, this isn?t true in many cases ? some characters are simply racist and cruel. Despite this, Aunt Alexandra is an example of how people can change their views based on their surroundings and education upon the subject. When we are first introduced to her, she is greatly prejudiced (she calls Atticus a ?nigger-lover?), but as she spends more time with Atticus and his children, people with a much more humane attitude to people, she comes to share the opinion that all people should be treated equally. This suggests that Lee believes that the way to tackle discrimination is through education rather than through punishment. ...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. How influential is the setting of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' to the novel's plot ...

    Scout is under opposing pressure from her Aunt Alexandra to conform to the female stereotype. 'Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire.

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

    After all the evidence aforementioned of Atticus being a positive citizen to his family and his community, Atticus experiences prejudice from the same people (this shows intense hypocrisy) because of his responsibility to his job and for helping out someone; that person being a black person coincidentally.

  1. How important is the Mrs Dubose episode in 'To Kill A Mockingbird?

    This part of the novel contains many mixed emotions. At the beginning it shows Jem loosing his temper with Mrs Dubose and having to go read to her. But the end of the chapter shows Jem trying to hide his emotions about Mrs Dubose's death. Atticus told Jem, "Mrs Dubose was the bravest person I ever knew".

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    Jem takes Scout aside and tries to tell her not to antagonize their aunt. He and Scout get into a fistfight, which Atticus breaks up, saying that Scout doesn't have to obey Jem unless he can make her do so.

  1. Discuss the importance of Boo Radley in relation to the themes and plot of ...

    scissors into his leg and pulled them out and wiped them on his trousers and resumed his activities." The fear that the town have of Boo because they do not know how he is really like has brought them to the conclusion that they have come up with.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Imagery and Symbolism

    Chapter 31 (pg 306) she doesn't lead him by the hand but by the arm because he is an adult. Her language is formal and she talks very grown up for her age. Also, she begins to respect her father.

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

    when Scout describes Calpurnia "hand as wide as a bed slat and twice as hard" Implying discipline. * Imagery is linked to symbolism in TKAMB. For example the mockingbird of the title is a metaphor for innocence and vunerability. This is a theme woven throughout the novel.

  2. How Does the Writer Use the Trial of Tom Robinson to Bring Out the ...

    She didn?t understand what he was going to do and without realising it, she managed to shame him. She made him stand in Atticus?s shoes, causing him to remember he was a father and realise that he wouldn?t want this in front of his children.

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