To Kill A Mockingbird: Irony And Sarcasm

1410 words - 6 pages

To Kill a Mockingbird: Irony and SarcasmHarper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is a highly regarded work of American fiction. The story of the novel teaches us many lessons that should last any reader for a lifetime. The messages that Harper Lee relays to the reader are exemplified throughout the book using various methods. One of the most important and significant methods was the use of symbols such as the mockingbird image. Another important method was showing the view through a growing child's (Scout Finch) mind, eyes, ears, and mouth. There is another very significant method that was used. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee utilizes the effects of irony, sarcasm, and hypocrisy to criticize a variety of elements in Southern life.Harper Lee employs the effects of irony in To Kill a Mockingbird as a way to criticize the deficiency of public education. "Now tell your father not to teach you any more. It's best to begin reading with a fresh mind." (pG. 22) Instead of praising Scout's ability to read at an advanced level, Miss Caroline discourages it. This ironic example set by Miss Caroline seems to demonstrate the inadequate training that she had received for her occupation. Miss Caroline seems to have been instructed upon a strict standard on how her students are expected to behave, but when she encounters something different, such as Scout's advanced ability to read, she advises Scout to stop being advanced, whereas a modern-day schoolteacher would capitalize on Scout's ability to read and encourage her to read more. "You won't learn to write until you're in the third grade." (pg. 23) The strict, recipe-style, rubric method of teaching that Miss Caroline uses is once again emphasized here. Miss Caroline once again discourages Scout's advanced abilities and regards Scout's ability with contempt. "The Dewey Decimal System consisted, in part, of Miss Caroline waving cards at us which were printed 'the,' 'cat,' 'rat,' 'man,' and 'you.'" (pg. 23) The Dewey Teaching Method was supposed to place an emphasis on "active" learning, yet the irony in Miss Caroline's "use" of it was that her teaching method wasn't "active" at all. It was, in fact, extremely passive. The students in the class didn't do anything. They became extremely bored and learned very little. As I have established, the use of irony clearly reveals the deficiency of the public education system in the 1930's. Teachers did not seem to be trained enough to handle the vast abilities of their students. Instead, they seemed to be trained to handle a narrowly confined amount of expected abilities. If Miss Caroline had recognized that Scout had advanced abilities, she could have allowed Scout to advance to a higher grade and save Scout from going through a school year that teaches her stuff that she has already learned. Public education is not the only element that Harper Lee uses irony to criticize, however. American political attitudes are also criticized using irony.Harper Lee also...

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