The Trial Scene Dramatically Effective in “To Kill A Mockingbird” Essay
To begin with, she uses the presentation of character very well throughout the chapter. She carefully describes each character so we can understand their background and reasons for their actions. For example, she very frequently makes reference to Bob Ewell and explains how he is a very poor white man who is uneducated, she does this by using Scouts description of him, and also by using direct speech, such as ‘I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella’. Language like ‘ruttin’’ and ‘black nigger’ indicate that he has a lack of education. He lives in effectively a dump and is very rude; he is the poorest of the poor whites. He is the man accusing Tom Robinson, a black man of raping his daughter Mayella, but the way Harper Lee represents Tom Robinson is completely the opposite of Bob Ewell.
He is much more admirable than Bob Ewell and is far more intelligent. By presenting Tom in such a way causes the reader to feel sympathy for Tom. This together is effective because throughout the scene we are able to compare Tom Robinson and Bob Ewell, which helps us to understand each character and which gives a bigger insight to what is going on. If you ever read a book and you do not know someone’s background or don’t have any information about the character it is very difficult to get into because you do not really know what the character is like, or the characters you like or dislike, so Harper Lee does very well in presenting each character individually and contrasting them to another character.
Atticus’s speech is particularly effective in this scene because it uses many different persuasive devices and techniques. It features many Tricolons, such as ‘all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral, that all Negro men are not to be trusted’ and ‘there is not a person in the is courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire’. These are effective because they make you think of morals and how you shouldn’t just blame someone or follow what is being said due to a racial stereotype, because you yourself are just as bad as the person you are accusing. Atticus often uses direct address to the audience, like when he says ‘Gentleman’ at the beginning and end of his paragraphs, showing he has respect for them and that he is speaking to them personally. In his speech, Atticus uses much emotive language, for instance, he uses words like ‘hounded’ and ‘destroy’, which are effective because they are powerful words, which gain the readers attention.
Also included in his speech, Atticus uses antithesis’, he says ‘But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal – there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.’ This is effective because it is appealing to the audience to see that Tom Robinson should be treated just as equally as any other white man would be. Following on is another Tricolon, which continues to back up his argument that Tom Robinson should be treated as an equal. It says ‘Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.’ The use of the antithesis and Tricolon together are so effective because they are both talking about America as a whole, and everyone living in America, and because most Americans are very patriotic they are likely to pick up on that, meaning they should realise if they hadn’t already that Tom Robinson deserves to be treated as they would treat any ordinary white person in America.
At the end of his speech, Atticus says to the jury ‘In the name of God, do your duty’, which is effective because again it is patriotic, and it also appeals to those who are religious.
Atticus’ speech is what stands out most in this scene, it does not try to change anybodies minds exactly, or give them reasons why Tom Robinson is not guilty, he just mainly mentions morals and tries to get the jury to think of Tom as they would any typical white American. On the other hand, he does give evidence to say that Mayella was making up that she was raped to get Tom Robinson in jail, far away because she knows she has done something bad, ‘tempting a Negro’, which was unspeakable and unacceptable, and she wanted to hide her guilt and shame.
During the trial scene, Harper Lee continues to build tension all the way through the trial, right until the end when all the tension is shattered by the verdict – Tom Robinson is guilty. Harper Lee creates tension in several different ways. One way is that she stops in the middle of the trial, often at important points for Scout to explain things to us, but she also tells us how people react to what is going on in the trial. On page 184 of To Kill A Mockingbird, it is pointed out that Bob Ewell is left handed, and the person who beat up Mayella had to be left handed because her bruising and injuries were on her right side. Once this was revealed, ‘Jem seemed to be having a quiet fit, he was pounding the balcony rail softly… ‘We’ve got him’’. This builds tension because the reader is now starting to see that actually everything is beginning to piece together and we learn more about Bob Ewell, he beat Mayella. From what you read and the reaction of Jem (above) you start to expect that the Jury would realise that Tom Robinson isn’t guilty due to all the evidence, which completely contradicts the accusation against Tom Robinson, however this is does not seem to be the case.
After Harper Lee builds up all this tension over the trial, leaving the reader in suspense because they are not sure what will happen, when the jury announce the verdict, all the tension is blown out of the window, the reader is then just left astonished that he was found guilty, when in the end it seemed everyone must have realised that there was no real evidence to say that Tom Robinson did actually rape Mayella, because on cross examination everything seemed to be contradicted, meaning there was virtually no way Tom Robinson did ever commit the crime he was accused of. Although it was inevitable that Tom Robinson would end up going to prison, it is still a shock to find out that he does and it is overall very effective because it demonstrates just how racist the whites were, because if Tom Robinson was white, there would have been no question about it, he would have been found innocent, on the other hand of course he would never have even been accused in the first place because
Although this is not the end of the novel, the trial scene gives the novel a spectacular climax before it has even finished. By doing this Harper Lee was including a very exciting part to the story, which then helped to resolve the issues of race for the most part of the novel.