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Atticus Finch: Stronger Than Hercules Essay

1138 words - 5 pages

“All heroes and heroines share several characteristics in common: They embody characteristics their society values” (Reilly). Odds are, the word, “hero” conjures up images of strong, powerful, hardy men battling monsters and evil forces. Achilles, the legendary Greek warrior whose story is chronicled in Homer’s The Illiad, and Superman, the invincible savior from the Planet Krypton, are two such examples. However, there is a new breed of hero, the modern hero. The modern hero is not necessarily a stereotypical strongman. He throws assumptions regarding the definition of a hero away. However, the modern hero still exemplifies moral and righteous qualities. Atticus Finch, a character in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, is just and virtuous. Modern society holds justice and virtue in high regard. According to Dahlia Lithwick, Atticus Finch motivated thousands of people, including herself, to pursue careers in law (1). Finch’s influence on so many powerfully attests to his honorable character. And like this new breed of hero, Finch is not traditionally tough or formidable. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch serves as a modern hero as seen through his ordinary circumstances, noble qualities, and daring actions.
Atticus Finch is a common man living an undistinguished life. A modern hero is not blessed by the gods; he has no otherworldly abilities (Reilly). And Atticus comes from a nondescript background. Atticus grew up on Finch’s Landing, a self-sustaining farm founded by his ancestor Simon. While tradition stated that men stayed at the Landing, Atticus pursued a career in law, then paid for his brother’s education in medicine (Lee 4). He came back to Maycomb, and practiced as a lawyer (5). Atticus is also not physically impressive. At one point, Scout discusses Atticus’s extremely poor vision in his left eye (89). Later, Miss Maudie tells Scout that Atticus is excellent at playing checkers and the Jew’s Harp. However, Scout feels that these achievements are an embarrassment (91). These talents are not the makings of a traditional hero. Traditional heroes were busy slaying beasts, not playing board games. Not only does Atticus have an ordinary background, but he also possesses heroic characteristics.
Atticus Finch possesses extremely heroic characteristics. Atticus defines courage not as a person hoisting a firearm, but as knowing that someone is going to encounter troubles and hardships but deciding to carry on in spite of it (Lee 112). Atticus tells Scout that even if a predominant amount of people share an opinion, a person can still stand up for what they believe in (105). As he teaches these lessons, his quality of courage is displayed by explaining that he is willing to endure difficulty and stand up for what is right. Scout is complaining about her first day of school, so Atticus explains to her that she will live with people more harmoniously if she sees the world through...

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