To Kill A Mockingbird Essay

3344 words - 13 pages

Compare the presentation of the social and historical contexts in 'The Mill on the Floss' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird' paying particular attention to the use of form, structure and language."Prejudice is the child of ignorance"'The Mill on the Floss' by George Eliot (1860) and 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee (1960) provide the reader with a thorough understanding of how social and historical contexts are presented in two different eras. Eliot's novel is set in the Victorian period whereas Lee's is a depiction of a typical Southern American society in the 1930's, following the life of the protagonist Scout and events that affect her growth into adulthood whilst tackling issues such as racism, gender prejudice and class prejudice. Similarly, Eliot's novel follows the life of Maggie Tulliver, which ends in tragedy whilst issues such as women and education, class and gender prejudice are addressed. Both novels are semi-autobiographic accounts, so contexts are realistically displayed with a detailed portrayal of representational conventional codes and customs of two contrasting time periods.Lee's novel set in Alabama gives an accurate reflection of race relations and interlinks the main plot with several subplots that expose the realism of Southern culture. Its publication coincided with the early Civil Rights Movement, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Martin Luther King's rise to leadership - events that condemned prejudicial attitudes.The narrative convention of realism is employed throughout both novels. Eliot's novel is her "most Wordsworthian novel" since she considers the lives of ordinary people just like Wordsworth, a Romantic writer, whose style was greatly admired by Eliot. However, this style was critisised by John Ruskin who believed that Eliot shouldn't depict the "blotches, blurs and pimples" of everyday life.Lee's novel depicts an intolerant racist Southern society. However, many believe that Lee doesn't portray realism effectively since a white defending a black in the 1930's would be unheard of. Harding LeMay suggests that Lee's "valiant attempt" to combine Scout's memories of her eccentric neighbourhood with the serious events surrounding Tom Robinson's trial "fails to produce a novel of stature or even of original insight". However, Keith Waterhouse's interpretation of the novel is "Miss Lee does well what so many American writers do appallingly: she paints a true and lively picture of life in an American small town" . Both arguments are remarkably strong, however I agree with Waterhouse's view since Scout's perception of the events that occur around her can only be displayed with a limited level of seriousness. LeMay's lack of "original insight" is a weak remark since a child's observation of incidents is unlikely to be sensible due to immaturity and inability to understand the adult-world.The most outstanding aspect of Lee's novel's construction lies within the narrative viewpoint. The protagonist, Scout is six years old when...

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