• 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 ...

    She has a black servant called Jesse who nurses Mrs Dubose as she becomes ill, they seem to get on very well. This shows how illogical her racism is. She can't justify why she detests black people so much. A more unexpected example of racism comes when Atticus is sitting outside Maycomb jail to protect Tom Robinson who is inside.

  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. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    The others don't want to learn to speak the "right" way, she says, so she speaks their language. Scout asks if she can come over to Calpurnia's house sometimes, and Calpurnia says yes. When they arrive home, Aunt Alexandra is sitting on their porch.

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

    But Jem took at it as an insult instead and became upset. He yelled, "Why can't she just leave me alone". Atticus explained to Jem about how courageous Mrs Dubose had been to beat her addiction even though she knew she wouldn't survive.

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

    from a child's point of view but also from a mature, adult perspective, offering the benefit of hindsight. The two different views are years apart. * (a)The insightful narration by the adult Scout contrasts with the point of view, wit and humour expressed by the child Scout.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Imagery and Symbolism

    already read; "Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me anymore, it would interfere with my reading; "Teach me?" I said in surprise; "He hasn't taught me anything, Miss Caroline. Atticus ain't got time to teach me anything, 'I added, when Miss Caroline smiled and shook

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

    Miss Stephanie, the town's gossip spread the rumours of Boo Radley. "Miss Stephanie Crawford, the neighbourhood scold, said she knew the whole thing. According to Miss Stephanie, Boo was sitting in the living room cutting some items from The Maycomb Tribune, his father entered the room, and Boo drove his

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

    Usually, such a trial would be decided before the trial had even begun just based on race. The theme of the mockingbird comes out in this scene, with Tom Robinson as an example of a human "mockingbird", representing true goodness and purity.

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