Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee Essay

Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee Essay

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The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is set in Alabama in the 1930s, and concerns itself primarily with the interrelated themes of prejudice and empathy. These themes are explored as the story follows Scout Finch as she learns lessons in empathy, ultimately rejecting prejudice. While all characters in Lee’s novel learn from their experiences, not all are able to grow in the same manner as Scout. The idea of a positive role model, typified by the character of Atticus Finch, and the ramifications of its absence, is a concept that Lee places much emphasis on. The isolated setting is also pivotal in the development of characters. Lee uses the contrast between characters that learn lessons in empathy and compassion, and characters that cling to the ideals of a small town, to explore factors that nurture or diminish prejudice.

Through the youthful protagonist Scout Finch, Lee shows the reader that a central factor in an individual’s capacity to learn and improve is the presence of a role model. Through the development of Scout’s relationship with Arthur Radley, Scout develops and becomes more empathetic. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, is her most consistent role model and used by Lee as the moral compass. Atticus is a firm believer in teaching by example, and his respect of his children is such that he treats them almost as adults, emphasised in the line ‘he played with us, read with us, and treated us with courteous detachment’ pg. 6. This refusal to shelter Scout from the harsh realities of life in Maycomb allows her to learn from experience. The strong moral guidance offered by Atticus allows Scout not only to learn from experience, but also to develop her personal integrity. Atticus exemplifies his strong beliefs, as illu...


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...the mention of ‘the only English riding boots I had ever seen’ pg. 218 and his statement to Scout that ‘you haven’t seen enough of the world yet’ pg. 220, the reader is able to infer that Raymond has been travelled beyond Maycomb, thus shaping his progressive beliefs. The broader perspective of Dolphus Raymond enables him to become a role model and challenge the insular culture of Maycomb.

Ultimately, through the exploration of a wide variety of characters with different responses to the same environment, Harper Lee is able to establish that the factors that distinguish which individuals have a capacity to learn and grow positively from experiences and which do not. This reflects on the nature of prejudice, with Lee using character and setting to show the reader that a culture of prejudice will not be reversed without positive role models and exposure to new ideas.

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