This sample essay on Women In To Kill A Mockingbird reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
Women were very much idealised in the southern society. They were regarded as pure and delicate. They were said to be fragile and unfit to deal with real life situations. In theory, this is meant as a high status, but women found it very offensive and extremely restrictive. This made them become very frustrated, and in general, they became depressed.
The whole southern community had feelings of frustration, but they women suffered more. Southern women suffered simply because they were women, and because they could convey and express such feelings.
In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ a recurrent theme is Scout’s hatred of the gracious, ladylike, well-mannered role which her aunt tries to inflict upon her. Scout rejects her feminine ways and name of Jean -Louise, and prefers her male nickname, Scout.
The fact that the author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Harper Lee, is female is an advantage to the presentation of women in the novel because she would know how it feels to be a woman in those times, and she would know how they are being treated.
Harper Lee was a young writer in South America, she was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama which was a small South – American town, which in a way resembles Maycomb, the town in which ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is set, although in an interview, Harper Lee maintained that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was intended to portray not her own childhood home but a rather non – specific southern town.
“People are people, wherever you put them,” she declared. The novel is also said to be firmly based on Harper Lee’s background.
In this essay, I am going to discuss the female characters in the novel, the women’s position within the Maycomb society and the women’s influence on the novel as a whole. Jean – Louise Finch, also known as, Scout is a very important female character in the novel. She competes with Jem and their coloured cook Calpurnia for the attention of her father Atticus. She has a very loving relationship with Atticus, and she gives Jem the status of her hero, although they do not always get on as well as expected. Scout is observant and in ways, very confident.
She doesn’t always understand everything that she is told, or sees happening, although she demonstrates an ability to absorb things, as she is a very intelligent, young girl. She is a non-judgemental child who is able to have lots of fun and is always happiest in her overalls, instead of typical girly dresses. She has the social identity of a tomboy in the prim and proper world of Maycomb. Scout is a very thoughtful girl, she worries about the goodness and evil of mankind and she always acts with the best intentions at heart, although she sometimes goes about things the wrong way.
As the novel progresses, Scout grows up a lot, although it is only in the space of 3 years, she matures a great deal. At the beginning of the novel, Scout is an innocent, good-hearted 5 year old, who has had hardly any experience with the big, wide world and by the end of the book, though she is still only a young child, her perspective on life progresses from the innocent child, to a near grown up. She has her first contact with ‘evil’ in the form of racism when her father Atticus is called a ‘Nigger Lover’. She reacts badly to this incident and takes it to heart.
Atticus brought up Scout with an element of sympathy and understanding and this indicates that whatever evil she comes face to face with she will retain her conscience without becoming cynical. Scout’s mother died when Scout was only 2 years old, so her father, Atticus, who is a big role model in her life, brought her up. However, the two main female role models in her life are Calpurnia, the coloured cook who lives with the Finch family and Miss Maudie, who is like a best friend to the children. Scout grows up with Calpurnia, and although they do not really get on at first, by the end of the novel Scout looks up to Cal.
They form more of a relationship where Scout enjoys spending time with her. Miss Maudie is the other main female role model for Scout. She is an old, yet very good friend of the family. She shares Atticus’ passion for justice and agrees in the way he brought up Scout and Jem. Miss Maudie is like a mother figure to Scout, who in a way replaces Scout’s real mother. Out of all the adults in Maycomb, Miss Maudie is like the children’s best friend, apart from Atticus of course. Miss Maudie Atkinson, a widow in her late forties, is a very good friend of the Finch family.
She is well loved by the whole of the family, especially the children. She is always out working in her garden, and is a source of company and information to the children. In a way, I think that Scout and Jem both admire her. She is a very positive character in the novel and a big role model. She is very courageous and has a good, fun sense of humour. She has a non – racist attitude, which Scout, especially admires. You can tell that she isn’t racist as she stands by Atticus through the Tom Robinson case. I think that Miss Maudie gets along with everyone or at least tries too.
She has an amount of respect for all living things. Scout has a very high opinion of Miss Maudie, as said before; she is one of Scout’s main role models. She has a lot of wisdom about her, which helps Scout a lot through the novel. She is a mother-like figure to the children, she does not talk down to them, she has respect for them, which is why they respect and value her. She a constant reassuring and sensible model for the children when Atticus is not around. When her house burns down, she shows a tremendous amount of strength and resilience.
Miss Maudie and the children often have very in-depth conversations together about what Arthur Radley was like when he grew up, rigid religion and of Atticus’ talent. Scout and Miss Maudie are in a way, very alike. They have the same views on life, which is why I think they get along so well, even though Scout is only young. The both disapprove of racism and prejudice. Neither of them really have the desire to gossip. Scout has a very high opinion of Miss Maudie, which I think influences the reader to have the same type of opinion of her.
As the novel goes on, you get to know Scout as a person, and in a way, learn to love the people she love – one being Miss Maudie Atkinson. Calpurnia is the black cook and housekeeper that lives in the Finch family household. She is quite a strong character in the novel. She experiences better conditions and responsibilities, than other African Americans of her time, due to Atticus’ belief. She is very able to negotiate between the two very different, separate worlds of Maycomb – the black and the white.
She teaches Scout and Jem most of the same lessons which they are taught by Atticus and Miss Maudie. She is quite a strict lady, and as she is considered as one of the family, she is allowed to freely scold and lecture the children. At first, the children, especially Scout do not like this, but as the novel progresses I think they realise that she is only doing her best for them. Cal and Scout bond quite a lot through the novel, they sit and talk, and Calpurnia teaches Scout about keeping respect for people, and taking time to understand others.
I think that this helps Scout to build quite a strong relationship with Cal. Having such a close relationship with Calpurnia even helps Scout see that being a girl isn’t so bad after all, and despite being coloured and just the Finch’s cook and housekeeper, she becomes a type of mother to Scout in many ways. Miss Henry Lafayette Dubose is one of the more nasty characters in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. She is said to be one of the ‘meanest women to ever have lived in the Maycomb County’. Se is a very old, ill and argumentative woman.
She is racist and prejudiced which is a dominating reason of why the children dislike her, as neither of them have been brought up to be like that. The children tend to avoid her, as she is a viscous woman, and it upsets them, the way she calls Atticus a ‘Nigger Lover’ because of his Tom Robinson case and having Calpurnia living with them. One day, when Mrs Dubose calls Atticus a ‘Nigger Lover’ it particularly gets to the children, and inspires Jem to cut off Mrs Dubose’s precious Camellias. As a punishment for this Jem has to go to read to Mrs Dubose everyday.
Jem hates the idea but Scout offers to go with him (this is an aspect of Scout and Jem’s close relationship). The children are scared to go there everyday, but Atticus tells them to maintain their politeness with her, as she is just an ‘ill, lonely lady’. They also learn more courage as they are going to visit everyday. Having Mrs Henry Lafayette Dubose as a character in the novel, indicates that there are both good and bad characters in the book. Harper Lee has realistically created complex personalities. Alexandra – referred to in the book as Aunt Alexandra is Atticus’ sister.
She is a very strong-willed, proud woman, and is very devoted to her family and her expectations of them. She is like the ‘perfect southern woman’. She is a very traditional woman, and personality trait often leads her to clash with Scout. She has strict views on how children should be brought up, and girls should be typical girls, so she disapproves of Scout’s tomboyish ways. She tries to enforce these views on Scout, which drives Scout away from her, as Scout is happy the way she is and the way she dresses.
Alexandra is very much concerned with bringing up Atticus’ children ‘properly’, this shows when she comes to help look after the children during the Tom Robinson trials. She is quite a racist woman, which does not help when she is staying with Atticus and the children, as Calpurnia is the cook. She has very different views to Calpurnia on bringing up the children and the roles of southern women. This makes it quite hard for them to live in the same household and causes them a lot of tension, as they tend to clash, as they are very different.
Scout and Aunt Alexandra build a better relationship towards the end of the novel, they realise they aren’t so different after all, and rather learn to get along. They learn to live with each other and accept each other’s rules and views. I think that there are many strong female characters in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. One of the strongest being Scout. She changes a lot through the novel, we get to know her really well, and notice her changes from a ‘small child into more of a person’. The role of southern women is a big aspect of the story. It is shown in many ways, from the way Calpurnia is, and the way Aunt Alexandra is.