n Robert Moligans To Kill a Mockingbird and Arthur Millers The Crucible the reader explores the concept of truth and justice within society. Both Robert and Arthur show the influence of prejudices in peoples morals and values. The two texts point that peoples preconceived notions can cause ripple effects in a societys judgement and its definition of right and wrong. The theme shown of justice, peer pressure and prejudice state that truth can be decided before a ounce of evidence is given.
Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or real life experience. It is the concept that is based around things such as stereotypes. In Roberts film text the audience is shown this through segregation and culture of racism. When Tom Robinson is set to trial it is shown from the start that he will not win the case due to his colour of skin. It was societys constrictions that caused the death of Tom. In the trail Tom states he felt sorry for Mayella. This determines his fate as the time presented that a black man shouldnt feel sorry for a white women as it would suggest that he is superior to her. All negros lie, all are basically immoral beings, all negro men are not to be trusted around our women. Atticus makes this statement in his closing at the trail. Atticus shows that the prejudice of racism can cause truth to be hidden as justice was given from the minds of people with strong opinions, due to the setting of the time. Prejudice is a theme shown in both texts but Arthur miller shows this though the act of gender inequality. However in the play it is shown that characters use this as a chance to gain social status. In a community in which women were never equal to men regardless if they were respected or not. When women were shown as fragile beings, they were given the role of the backbone of the male community. But when they were portrayed as strong individuals, they were shown capable enough to mould the story according to their wish. In a society where women were expected to be obedient and submissive, Abigail and Mercy Lewis move out of their roles of society to achieve their means. Ill tell you whats walking Salem – vengeance is walking Salem. Proctor says this as he realises these trials are all a cause of the wrong doings in the town. He knows that all this accusations made by the girls are driven by a thrift for vengeance. The girls in the town acknowledge the prejudice of sexism but use it as shot to break from societies norms.
A theme that is commonly presented is peer pressure. The pressure of a group creates a hierarchy which can exclude bunches of people effecting relationships. Early on in the Crucible the rumour of witches spreads through Salem which lead to the interrogations with Abigail. When Paris asked Abigail if she was “conjuring up sprits last night. Abigail replied “Not I, sir- Tituba and Ruth.” When Tituba was asked about the devil or if she had talked to him she said that it was Sara Good and Goody Osburn. The pressure changed and moved on to the next person. Like a hot potato being passed around no one wanted the pressure. This costed the lives of many innocent people as most gave into giving up names to save their own. In to Kill a Mockingbird it is shown but as something an individual can overcome. Moligan shows the audience how mob mentality can affect a persons choices. When Atticus is set to defend Tom Robinson there is a set assumption that he will not try. Although Atticus rises above the publics pressure to not defend Tom the theme is still present. I feel sorry they picked you to defend that n*gger that raped my Mayella. Bob Ewell said after finding what Atticus was doing. During this speech he gives he tries to convince and pressure a persons decisions of a persons morals. Peer pressure pushes a mob mentality to a community which can effect the judgements made by all.
The term justice can be interpreted in many ways, according to different peoples morals and values. In the crucible their enemy is the devil and they are always scared of the devil and constantly looking for signs that the devil is there. “We cannot leap to witchcraft. They will howl me out of Salem for such corruption in my house.” The fear of the devil gets so strong the town’s justice system take strong actions to keep everyone safe. The scale between justice and freedom is very unbalanced. The justice and courts are so strict none of the Salem people have their own personal freedom. We can compare this to how the courts were represented in To kill a Mockingbird. In Atticus closing statement during the trial, Atticus tells the jury, Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levellers, and in our courts all men are created equal. In a utopian society the jury would give a fair and thought through judgment. However Tom is announced guilty of a crime he could not physically commit, which demonstrates how the court system is not equal or just.
In both Arthurs The Crucible and Roberts To kill a mockingbird it is clear that judgments are made with passion rather than reason. These choices are made from the hands of peer pressure, injustice and prejudice. These texts suggest that preconceived notions are what defines humanities morals and values.