“Great Expectations” and “To Kill A Mocking bird”

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Despite their differences in location and time, both “Great Expectations” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” share connections in their storylines. These novels are written from the viewpoint of an adult reflecting on their childhood, making them both bildungsroman in style.

The novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” addresses different types of prejudice that existed in Maycomb County, Alabama during the mid 1930s. It primarily focuses on racism, particularly through the trial of Tom Robinson. Tom, an African American youth, is charged with sexually assaulting Mayella Ewell, a white woman. Even though Atticus Finch successfully proves Tom’s innocence during the trial, the town’s biased mindset influenced by inequality, violence, and hypocrisy unjustly condemns him for a crime he did not commit.

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“Great Expectations” is about the life of Philip Pirrip, also known as Pip, from the age of seven to twenty-four. Pip assists a convict named Magwitch in evading the law by giving him “a file and wittles”. This act proves beneficial for Pip as he is later rewarded with his desired position in society and the love of Estella. However, Miss Havisham wants Estella to break his heart.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” is a story narrated by Scout Finch, a young girl who goes through a transformation from the age of six to ten. While the novel focuses on Scout’s experiences, it also features another character named Pip. Pip, unlike Scout, faces a difficult life as an orphan living in poverty with his sister and her husband. In contrast, Scout benefits from her father Atticus’ job as a lawyer, which provides her with a more privileged lifestyle. Additionally, Scout enjoys the companionship of their family cook, Calpurnia, and the love and support of her brother Jem. This creates a nurturing and secure family environment for Scout’s upbringing. In the novel “Great Expectations,” Pip also struggles with his family situation as he lives with his abusive sister who mistreats him. However, he finds solace in the care provided by Joe, who looks after him and undermines his sister’s punishments.

Both Joe and Atticus embody the concept of “the true gentleman” in their portrayal. They both exhibit forgiveness and love in their interactions with others, demonstrating a strong moral conscience in fulfilling their obligations towards the other characters in both books. They share a common belief regarding the judging of others, advocating the idea that one should refrain from passing judgment until they have experienced the perspectives of others by figuratively putting themselves in their shoes. Additionally, both Atticus and Joe impart valuable lessons on courage to the younger characters within the books, emphasizing that true courage is not defined by wielding a weapon.

Initially, both men bring about embarrassment for the children. Scout and Jem believe that Atticus, being older, is incapable of participating in the games that other fathers engage in with their children, remarking that “Atticus can’t do anything.” It is only when he shoots the supposedly crazy dog, Tim Johnson, that Scout’s opinion changes and she begins to admire him. Nevertheless, Scout readily defends Atticus whenever he is criticized. On the other hand, Joe embarrasses Pip by considering him to be “rather backward in some things…in his learning and his manners.” However, Biddy, a friend of Pip’s, defends Joe during this time. Pip maintains this perception until the end of the book when he falls ill and Joe becomes his caretaker once again, upon which Pip becomes dependent on him. As Pip grows stronger, Joe begins to adopt a more submissive role, which saddens Pip.

It is evident that the narrative characters have contrasting education backgrounds. Atticus, being an educated lawyer, has been reading to Scout since she was very young, allowing her to acquire knowledge effortlessly. Scout remarks, “reading was something that just came to me.” Conversely, Pip finds learning difficult as he describes struggling through the alphabet as if it were a thorny bush. Significantly, while Atticus assists Scout in her education, Pip expresses his willingness to help Joe learn to read and write once he himself has mastered these skills.

Initially, Pip’s aspirations of becoming a gentleman are unattainable because of his impoverished upbringing. He yearned to live like the wealthy, having been exposed to their lifestyle. However, as an orphan, Pip lacked a dependable income.

Although these two books may seem entirely dissimilar at first, there are also shared elements amidst their variances.

Both “Great Expectations” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” introduce characters that initially inspire fear – Magwitch and Boo Radley, respectively. However, as the stories progress, it becomes evident that these characters ultimately save the main characters in some manner. Magwitch provides financial assistance to Pip, while Boo Radley physically aids Scout. These acts of help can be seen as a reward for earlier actions on the part of the main characters. In Pip’s case, he aids Magwitch in escaping by retrieving a file, whereas Scout defends Boo’s actions and visits him during his trial period.

Both novels challenge the ethical beliefs of the readers. The law plays a significant role in “To Kill A Mockingbird” and Pip aspires to become a lawyer in “Great Expectations”. However, in both texts, the law deviates from the prevailing social norms of that era.

In both novels, the reader is compelled to empathize with both Magwitch and Tom Robinson, as they face the injustice of the law. Magwitch is exiled from the country, and upon his return, he is unjustly sentenced to death, despite his lawful accomplishments.

Both Mrs Dubose and Miss Havisham fulfill similar roles in the respective books. They demonstrate spitefulness towards the main characters, such as Mrs Dubose who constantly utters offensive remarks to Jem and Scout regarding their father whenever they walk past her door. Likewise, Miss Havisham generates unhappiness for Pip as she employs him as a tool for revenge against men. This stems from being abandoned at the altar on her wedding day.

A comparison can be made between the two books in terms of the presence of a significant building for the main characters. In “To Kill A Mockingbird,” this building is the Radley place, which is described as having “rain rotten shingles” and “a swept yard that was never swept,” giving it a neglected appearance. The closed shutters on Sundays and the shade provided by the oak trees suggest that the owners of the house want to keep the outside world at a distance. In “Great Expectations,” the building in question is The Salis House, the home of Miss Havisham, which is described as being made of old brick and having a dismal atmosphere. The courtyard is filled with “grass growing in every crevice,” and the house itself is rundown, with some windows walled up and the remaining ones rustily barred. Once again, the feeling of abandonment and the desire to keep outsiders away is evident.

The characters have different reasons for their interest in the two buildings. Pip only goes to Miss Havisham’s house when he is invited, while Scout, Jem, and Dill visit the Radley place out of a combination of curiosity, fear, and excitement caused by the house’s mysterious reputation.

Compeyson and Bob Ewell can also be compared as the true villains in the stories.

Magwitch used to work for Compeyson, who turns out to be the man that abandons Miss Havisham. Both men are convicted for distributing stolen money. While in court, Magwitch witnesses how refined Compeyson appears compared to his own disreputable image. Compeyson cunningly shifts all the blame onto Magwitch. When they escape from the prison ship, Magwitch confronts Compeyson and physically attacks him, but Compeyson manages to manipulate others into thinking he was provoked by Magwitch’s violent intentions. As a result, Magwitch receives a life sentence while Compeyson receives a lenient punishment. While Pip and his friends try to help Magwitch flee the country, Compeyson betrays them by bringing officers to re-arrest Magwitch. Both convicts end up falling overboard, and it is assumed that Compeyson perishes.

The father of Mayella, Bob Ewell, and his family are described as “living as guests of the county.” They rely on the town’s refuse for sustenance and Bob Ewell even gets away with hunting out of season due to the town’s sympathy for his children. He considers himself superior to Tom Robinson, an African American. Scout, on the witness stand, describes him as a “red little rooster.” During Tom Robinson’s trial for raping Mayella Ewell, Tom maintains that she approached him and Bob Ewell becomes furious with her, threatening to kill her. Although Tom is ultimately found guilty, it is clear that Bob Ewell played a significant role in the attack. Towards the end of the book, Ewell seeks revenge against Atticus and Tom’s widow.

During the peak of the story, an unknown person tracks and assails Jem and Scout, resulting in Jem suffering a broken arm. After the commotion subsides, Bob Ewell is discovered laying on the ground with a kitchen knife lodged beneath his ribs. Once more, uncertainty arises regarding whether he accidentally fell onto the knife or was intentionally stabbed.

Both Pip and Scout experience significant growth and transformation in their stories. By the end of their respective books, Pip learns that genuine happiness comes from staying true to oneself instead of pursuing social standing. Meanwhile, Atticus teaches Scout about the immorality of racial prejudices and instills in her the belief that ethnic minorities should not be isolated from society. Furthermore, Scout’s outlook on life evolves as she transitions from a tomboy at the start of the book to a more refined young woman. She recounts her childhood experiences from an adult perspective.

In “Great Expectations,” Victorian readers would have experienced a thorough analysis of the class system. They would witness the protagonist’s challenging journey from poverty to wealth and recognize how those in their own social circle restrict opportunities for the less fortunate.

Both books come to the same conclusion, which is that prejudiced attitudes towards race or social status are unjustifiable.

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“Great Expectations” and “To Kill A Mocking bird”. (2017, Oct 16). Retrieved from


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