To Kill a Mockingbird Theme Analysis/Essay

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Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, is a realistic story that deeply discusses issues involved with the 1930’s that still resonate today. The struggles of life are evident within the believable characters of Maycomb County which is a microcosm, reflective of universal issues. Along with the authentic characters, setting and style also helps to convey Lee’s controversial notions of racial and gender prejudice, and persecution of the innocent, discussing many other ideas within. Lee comments on the issues of racial and gender prejudice by following the struggles of authentic characters such as Scout, Tom Robinson and the persecutors Aunt Alexandra and Ewell. Scouts character does not value the social expectations of women and their regimented ways. “You must behave like the little lady you are.” The soft alliteration of ‘little lady’ emphasises the demeaning effect it has on Scout and the feminine world she is resisting. The demanding statement made by Aunt Alexandra “…who fit into Maycomb like a hand into a glove,” also shows Scouts initial rebellion and portrays her characters struggle against gender prejudice. The simile of Aunt Alexandra fitting into Maycomb like a hand in a glove provides the reader with a perfectly conjured image of the whole of Maycomb being gender prejudiced, hence the reason Aunt Alexandra and her views fit in. This stylistic technique also describes Maycomb as a glove, where there is only room for a hand or in To Kill A Mocking Bird’s case, one type of view. This portrays Scout’s determined, influential character, protesting against what seemed an impenetrable crowd, whilst illustrating Lee’s idea of breaking free from the ‘ideal woman’ stereotype through character and style. Narration from Scout’s point of view is an example of style as we see the pure detestation she has for the feminine dresses she is made to wear instead of her overalls. “I felt the starched walls of a pink penitentiary closing in on me…” Scout refers to her dress with a metaphor comparing it to a jail, she feels she is trapped and forced to follow this path, and by not succumbing to her Aunts expectations at the end of the book we are lead to believe Scout has won her struggles. M..Lee also deals with racial prejudice by developing a plot that deals with the situation head on. As Tom is tried, with the only evidence being his word against a white mans, we see the instigation of raw and brutal prejudice as the plot begins to unfold. “Tom Robinson was the only person who was ever decent to her… but she looked at him as if he were dirt beneath her feet.” A simile is used here to make the irony of Mayella’s view prominent. Mayella herself is considered ‘trash’ by Maycomb County and is only a rung higher than Tom in the caste system because “scrubbed with lyre soap, in very hot water, his [her father/the Ewell’s] skin was white.” Mayella being dirty and trash like once again prompted here then juxtaposed to the clean and gentile Tom Robinson, making her seem extremely hypocritical paralleling him to dirt. No matter how innocent or genuine Tom is, he cannot escape the bottom of the hierarchy as long as his skin is black. This exacerbated complication in the plot reveals the deep-rooted racism in Maycomb and results in the destruction of Tom’s life. M..Another way racial prejudice is illustrated is through Scouts innocent and unbiased point of view revealing the unprovoked racism through the added aid of setting. ”The warm bittersweet smell of clean negro…their cabins neat and snug with pale smoke rising from the chimneys and doorways glowing amber from the fires inside.” The oxymoron of ‘bittersweet’ and ‘clean Negro’ supports the element of Scouts point of view because it suggests she has not made judgements, the style of narration provides this childlike and pure perspective, this...
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