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

We are told that " Maycomb County.... had nothing to fear but fear itself" Fear is an important force in the novel. Discuss how it is explored by Harper Lee.

Extracts from this document...


We are told that " Maycomb County.... had nothing to fear but fear itself" Fear is an important force in the novel. Discuss how it is explored by Harper Lee. Fear is an important force in the novel because it is the cause of most people's action. The main theme in the book is a result of fear such as the Tom Robinson case and Boo Radley. Ignorance breeds fear which in turn breeds prejudice. Fear is infectious, and each character in the book is affected by other people's fear. Hence, the people in Southern town are always afraid. Lee is able to explore fear in the novel most effectively by seeing how individual characters are affected by it. In Particular, Mayella Ewell is influenced and manipulated a lot which is shown by the fact she accuses Tom. The underlying reason for the Tom Robinson case going to trial is that Mayella Ewell is afraid of being "hounded from [their] midst as being unfit to live with." Mayella is forced to put an innocent man in prison because she wants to put the " evidence of her crime away form her" and save herself from another punishment. She has reason to be afraid, as Atticus implies she was " savagely beaten" by Bob Ewell. ...read more.


Tom was afraid of court because he knew it was unjust, this is implied when he tells Gilmer that he was " scared [he'd] hafta face up to what [he] didn't do." This suggests that he feared the injustice of the town. The town would persecute him either way, if he were acquitted then Ewell would want revenge and if he wasn't then he would go to the electric chair. He ran off the Ewell place and tried to escape from prison because he was more afraid of what the white men would do to him. The other main theme in this book is the children's discovery of the real Boo Radley. The primary reason for Boo Radley staying inside his house, is "because he wants to stay inside." When Jem is trying to understand why Aunt Alexandra thinks Walter Cunningham is " trash" he realises that " it ain't right" and this injustice and ignorance is why Boo stays inside his house out of preference. He is "shy" and afraid of being "despised." He doesn't like the outside world because people just " can't ... get along." He fears this ignorance; it is that which makes the vicious rumours. ...read more.


As Jem and Scout were put into an unknown situation and were very frightened, they were saved by the man that they feared because he was unknown. It is here that the children are able to realise that all along it is he who is afraid of the world. Lee is able to show that they all fear something, which can bring them together. Lee explores fear in several situations and shows it clearly as a strong force in the book by every character being individually affected by it. Throughout the novel it is rarely, directly referred to and yet is such a powerful force behind so many of the actions. Lee explores the emotion in many forms and ultimately Scout shows that although she has discovered that people can be evil in unfathomable ways, she still upholds her faith in humankind and can face anything with courage. Unlike Dill, she finds that the real world does follow patterns, and once one knows them, the world of fantasy and books is the only place where real fear can exist. From the beginning of the novel, where scout has a fear of Boo, school and things she didn't understand Scout has grown to understand that fear is unnecessary. In this way all of Maycomb County fears something irrational, they fear, fear. Rita Bulusu 10 Bruce ...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. Discuss how the historical, political and social setting of Harper Lee's novel 'To Kill ...

    Maybe this hatred for the Negroes wasn't hatred after all, but brought about by fear. As slavery had been abolished, black people were entitled to the same rights as white people, however they were still ostracised by white people because of their colour.

  2. "Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear ...

    After Abolition Black people were terrorised by the Ku Klux Klan, who would burn them, rape the women, and torture the children and the reader is shown an example of this in Chapter 15 where a group of white people, go to the county jail to terrorise Tom Robinson.

  1. Maycomb County is a microcosm of the social structure of America. Discuss how Harper ...

    There is the black community, based in the outskirts of the town where they have less of a voice and are less educated. The only reason they are concentrated on in the novel is because the accused character is a black man.

  2. Mr Dolphus Raymond tells Scout, "Your pa's not a run of the mill man."How ...

    As I have previously said, Atticus does not share the racism of other members of the community.

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

    Because of the class division, Mayella Ewell is put into an extremely low category so may not get any type of attention from males besides her Father. Tom Robinson can be seen as a mockingbird figure because of innocence, and he is only there to help/comfort others.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    However, she insists that he never lays a hand on her or beats her. Atticus asks if this was the first time Tom Robinson has been invited into her house, and she jumps a little before she says that it was the first time.

  1. Bravery, a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger of pain without ...

    That part shows an excellent act of bravery. Atticus is full of bravery the man always stands up to his fears and his authority in this novel that is what I really enjoy about the character. Another act of bravery was when Atticus had been called home because of the mad dog walking around on his street.

  2. Victims of Injustice.

    Since Atticus decides to defend Tom, Bob Ewell does something very disrespectful and unjust: 'I wish Bob Ewell wouldn't chew tobacco.' According to Miss Stephanie Crawford, however, Atticus was leaving the post office when Mr. Ewell approached him , cursed him, spat on him, and threatened to kill him...Atticus didn't bat an eye...'Too proud to fight you nigger-lovin' bastard?'(Lee 217)

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