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Courage exists in several forms ;To Kill a Mockingbird - Various types of courage


faithanatomy 2 / 3  
Jul 18, 2009   #1
Just another essay.

Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" explores how courage can be shown in different ways. WIth close reference to Chapters 1 - 16 of the novel, explain how the various types of courage are discussed.

Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" explores how courage can be shown in several important characters in the novel. They are Mrs. Dubose, Atticus, Jem and Maycomb county itself. Courage exists in several forms as cleverly depicted in the novel, such as childish courage, moral courage.

The first iconic character in the novel known for her split personality and great moral courage is Mrs. Dubose. She was a morphine addict and was addicted to morphine as a painkiller prescribed by her doctor for many years. Despite her being an old, frail lady, who could have just "make(made) things easier" by just continuing to take morphine as Atticus put it, she chose the other path contrary to popular beliefs. Instead, she persevered, choosing to "die beholden to nothing and no one", showing her sheer determination and will to live. Also, Atticus wanted Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose not only as a punishment for his misdeeds, but he also wanted to show Jem what true courage really was. He wanted to show Jem that a courageous person is not "a man with a gun in his hand", and that Mrs. Dubose was an excellent example and Atticus looks up to her despite her prejudiced remarks against him such as "nigger-lover". When Jem and Scout was reading to her, they were terrified of her "undulating lips" with "chords of saliva" dripping out of her mouth and that it had a "seperate existence of its own". What the children failed to see in the beginning was what lied underneath those gruesome series of withdrawal fits - true moral courage. Upon the death of Mrs. Dubose, Atticus also mentioned that "she won", not by having a gun in her hands, but with her sheer will power and determination. He hoped that Jem and Scout would be able to respect such a courageous old lady she was. Harper Lee also did not choose a principled character such as Miss Maudie in the portrayal of such courage, but instead used Mrs. Dubose to portray courage instead. This made Mrs. Dubose an interesting and outstanding character with contrasting characteristics in the eyes of the reader. Lee also indirectly trying to show that there is goodness in everyone, despite their evil natures.

Another character that portrayed different kinds of courage is Jem. However, his perceptions of courage changed throughout the course of chapters 1 - 16, as he began to mature. In the beginning of the novel, Scout mentioned that Jem had "never declined a dare" in his entire life, which exhibits his childish perceptions of courage, that courage was merely accepting to dares presented to him. In addition, he "loved his honour more than his head", which exhibits his stupidity rather than his bravery, because this shows that he accepts dares blindly and never though about his safety nor consequences of performing a dare. His new-found 'bravery' led him to commit ridiculous acts of 'courage', such as running up to the Radley's Place, touching it, and running back because he "wanted Dill to know once and for all that he wasn't scared of anyhing". This was obviously not respected and tolerated by adults in Maycomb, evident from Atticus' response to the children causing a ruckus in the Radley's Place by warning Jem to "mind your(his) own business and let the Radleys mind theirs".

However, upon entering adolescence, Jem began to show acts of moral courage. Such an example is when Dill was found hiding under Scout's bed when he fled home, and his first reaction was to inform Atticus, as Dill "ought to let your (his) mother know where you are (he was)". This was a turning point in Jem's maturityin his perception of courage, as he was able to put himself in the shoes of Dill's parents and he knows that they will be worried. Showing moral courage, he "broke the remaining code of childhood", and even though it was not in favour of Dill and Scout, he stood up and related to Atticus about the issue. From this occasion, we can draw similarties with Atticus, who went against the ordinary and what was deemed 'popular' by the Maycomb community, and took up the trial to defend a Black man, Tom Robinson, just like how Jem went against Dill and Scout to do what is right. This brings us to understand that moral courage is having the courage to do what is right, and not what is popular, even though it might anger those around you.

The last character which illustrates forms of courage in this novel is Atticus. Atticus is a principled lawyer who was a role model in the novel. Despite being called "nigger-lover" by many people in Maycomb, he still had the moral courage to take up the Tom Robinson case and defend Tom Robinson. He even mentioned that he would not be able to tell Jem and Scout "to not do anything" anymore should he give up on the trial case. This shows his determination to continue with the trial. Similarly, despite also having "one black man's words" as evidence against the Ewells(whites), he knew he was fighting a losing battle, and had "everything to lose" according to Link Deas and even Francis echoed Aunt Alexandra's rant about being "never be able to walk on the streets on Maycomb again". Despite setbacks after setbacks, Atticus still managed to muster enough moral courage to take up the case head-on, and persevere until truth be told. Another incident of Atticus' bravery can be seen from the Tom Robinson lynch mob confrontation when he was confronted by Mr. Cunningham and his gang. He practically used himself as a human shield to protect Tom Robinson at all cost, being his "client". Even Mr. Underwood had to cover Atticus with his "double-barreled shotgun" from his office above the jail, which depicts the seriousness of the confrontation, but despite that, Atticus remained strong and steadfast. Were is not for Scout's innocence which diffused the tension later, it could have ended in a bloody fight. This shows that Atticus is not afraid of dire consequences such as death, as long as he does what is morally right.

Lastly, Maycomb county also do present some forms of courage, as depicted by the scene of the fire breaking out in Miss Maudie's home. The people of Maycomb, in all codes of "dress and undress", and without hesitation, helped to shift "furniture" to "a yard" across her house. This shows that the people of Maycomb, who just woke up from sleep, who regardless of their dress code, went to help Miss Maudie, illustrating the courage and cohesion in Maycomb. Hence, it can be once again proved that there is good in everyone, despite the many flaws of Maycomb (such as their prejudice against blacks), the people are also courageous and helpful in times of crisis.

Therefore, it can be depicted in Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" that courage is a prominent characteristic among the peeple in Maycomb.

EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Jul 18, 2009   #2
Here are a few suggestions to get you started on the revision process:

Courage exists in several forms as cleverly depicted in the novel, such as childish courage, moral courage.

You should define each of these, and associate them with a character, right from the outset, so as to preview your arguments for your reader.

The first iconic character in the novel known for her split personality

She has a split personality? I don't remember that . .

"make(made) things easier" = "[made] things easier" The square brackets, together with the ellipsis, are a quoter's best friend.

his made Mrs. Dubose an interesting and outstanding character with contrasting characteristics in the eyes of the reader. Lee also indirectly trying to show that there is goodness in everyone, despite their evil natures.

This may be true, but what does it have to do with your topic, which is courage?

Also, revise your essay to talk about the events of the story in the present tense throughout.
OP faithanatomy 2 / 3  
Jul 18, 2009   #3
Okay, thanks.

In school, using ellipsis in quotes are forbidden. Also, I was taught to use round brackets and not square brackets.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Jul 18, 2009   #4
Really? Where do you go to school? Where I am, both ellipsis and square brackets are fairly standard methods of editing quotations to get them to fit into your work smoothly.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Jul 18, 2009   #5
Therefore, it can be depicted in Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" that courage is a prominent characteristic among the peeple in Maycomb.

Demonstrating that some people show courage sometimes is not quite the same thing as demonstrating that courage is a prominent characteristic among those people. I'm having a hard time seeing this as an accurate thesis statement.


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