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To Kill A Mockingbird Essay: Powerful and Powerless

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The concept of Powerful and Powerless is an integral part of our society, this idea is vividly explored in Harper Lee's 1960 novel, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (Arrow Books 1997). Set in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930's, Harper is able to explore intimately themes of prejudice, courage, community and innocence to perfectly embody the idea of powerfulness and in contrast powerlessness. This essay will further expand on these themes in their relation to characters such as Atticus, Mrs Dubose, Miss Gates and Boo Radley, and the way in which Lee is able to convey her assumptions in this engaging novel. Courage is clearly elucidated in the characters of both Atticus and Mrs Dubose to be a quality that empowers the individual. Atticus puts himself in the middle of a conflict between Tom Robinson and the Ewells, an act so courageous that his brother compares him to Christ. Harper Lee utilises the technique of allusion in the quote "let this cup pass from you, eh?" alluding to the night before Christs crucifixion where he prayed that he might avoid his fate. ...read more.


Racial prejudice is illustrated in the novel to kill a mockingbird to be a trait that morally disempowers the individuals and groups involved. Lee uses the technique of irony to illuminate the absurdity of the racial discrimination and prejudice that existed within the context of the book. Miss Gates is highly prejudiced and mirrors perfectly the prejudiced nature of her greater community. In reply to one of Miss Gates pupil's remarks concerning Hitler's unreasonable treatment of Jews, she ironically explained "Jews have been persecuted since the beginning of history, even driven out of their own country. It's one of the most terrible stories in history". This statement is eminently ironic because African Americans have always and continue to be persecuted in her context. This is amplified by her statement outside the classroom "'it's time somebody taught 'em (African-Americans) a lesson, they were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us.' Miss Gates shows no from of recognition of the persecution that blacks have had to endure in her own town of Maycomb, yet she showed compassion for the unfair treatment of Jews by Hitler. ...read more.


what other people say about him. This disempowers Boo for he does not have his own 'voice', and is essentially characterized via other peoples viewpoints, not that of himself. The neighbourhood of Maycomb community is left with the perception that Boo is uninviting, dangerous and evil. His figure of love and innocence is shielded and surpassed with the stories regarding Boo imparted by characters such as Miss Maudie. Additionally, we can gather through the juxtaposition of the mockingbird and the cruel innate world in which it lives in, that Harper lee was endeavouring to, and ultimately succeeded in emphasizing the innocent and childlike nature of Boo Radley. Lee's symbolism of the mockingbird and the juxtaposition with the evil world in which it surrounds effectively conveys the powerless nature of human beings like Boo Radley. As evident, 'To Kill A Mockingbird' effortlessly portrays the idea of powerful and powerless throughout her many characters. Lee's characters teach us many lessons, and impart valuable, life long information. They teach of the importance of moral courage, innocence and communities, but also the dangers of prejudice and how this can be a trait of disempowerment. Harper's novel is truly a novel of inspiration and will be read for many generations to come. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This analysis is communicated well and a variety of ideas are explored and a good level of understanding of the novel is demonstrated. The points being made do need to be supported with evidence from the text so specific analysis of the language, form and structure can take place alongside the explanation of the themes covered in the novel.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 05/09/2013

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