We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Atticus Finch’s portrayal in “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

In Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” Atticus Finch was portrayed as the ideal man. This presentation of Atticus Finch is far too idealistic. Atticus never waivers from behaving perfectly, so perfectly that he exhibits no human foibles. The portrait painted of him is far too idealistic; he always acts courageously and morally, he is a model father and he has no prejudices despite that fact he lives in a time and an environment that is consumed by racism.

Atticus Finch lived in a time in Southern Alabama when a system of segregation and bitter racism was enforced by law kept African Americans from achieving equality or improving themselves. White people were told that they were above black people. Atticus had no such prejudice which was unrealistic for this time. Atticus is a lawyer in Maycomb, a typical southern town where racial discrimination is the normal behaviour. “Blacks” went to different churches, there was segregated seating in the courts, where all men are meant to be equal and in every aspect of their lives they were treated as inferiors.

However Atticus never succumbed to this way of thinking. When he was defending a Negro named Tom Robinson and the people in the town were threatening him for doing so Atticus never showed any sign that he doubted what he was doing. Far too idealistically he was shown to believe in the integrity of the legal system and the jury and that eventually people would see right from wrong. When Scout asks him if he is a “nigger loved” Atticus replies “I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody” (page 120). This quote shows that he believes that the blacks are his equals and that he attempts to “love” them. This attitude is so unique for that time that it is unreal.

Throughout the novel Atticus shows an extreme courage that is too perfect. Numerous times he is threatened, yet he never reacts with fear. In his defense of Tom Robinson, Atticus believed in Tom’s innocence and fought for his freedom. Atticus knew he wasn’t going to win the case but he knew he had to perform his duty. By performing his duty he had the majority of the town threatening him and his children. Even when the crazy Bob Ewell “approached him, cursed him, spat on him and threatened to kill him” (page 239) Atticus “didn’t bat an eye, just took out his handkerchief and wiped his face and stood there and let Mr. Ewell call him names.” (page240). For Atticus to show no animosity towards the people who were threatening and abusing him is portraying him far too perfectly, particularly when his children become targets as well.

Atticus is always moral and ethical in his behaviour. His conforming absolutely to standards of what is right and wrong is too idealistic. Through “To Kill a Mockingbird” Atticus stops Scout and Jem from doing things because they are “wrong”. He allows those who cannot afford it legal service which he is paid for, not in cash, but with whatever the person can afford e.g. a sack of potatoes. Atticus’ morality allows him to be totally unbiased with his defense of the negro, Tom Robinson. Atticus’ attitude towards guns is an example of the portrayal of his morality as being too idealistic. When Atticus believes that Jem (his son), killed Bob Ewell, he is so morally focused, that he would see his own son punished for murder of a man who truly deserved to die.

Even when the police officer, Mr. Tate, tries to convince Atticus that Jem was innocent, Atticus refuses to believe him, “Heck it’s mighty kind of you and I know you’re going it from that good heart of yours, but don’t start anything like that.” (page 300). When a mad dog is heading towards his house, Atticus is reluctant to shoot it, even though he knows it will probably hurt someone. So overwhelming is his sense of right and wrong. When he realizes he has no choice but to shoot the does his children discover that their father was the “deadest shot in Maycomb County” (Page 108). But Atticus refuses to use this talent because it gave him “an unfair advantage over most living things” (page 109). The morality displayed by Atticus is extreme and his judgments and actions are too idealistic.

In all circumstance Atticus is portrayed as caring. The feelings and exhibited concern and empathy for other is too extreme. When defending Tom Robinson, during the court case he questions Mayella Ewell with courtesy and respect. Mayella is an uneducated girl whom Atticus believes is lying about being raped by Tom Robinson. Mayella is rude to Atticus saying “Won’t answer a word you say long as you keep on mockin’ me.” (page 200). However Atticus remains calm and polite, never attempting to trick her. He addresses her as
“miss” and his own daughter Scout “wondered if anybody had ever called her ma’am or ‘Miss Mayella’ in her life.” (page 201). Atticus shows an empathy towards Mayella, he knows she is like a wounded animal and he doesn’t want to hurt any further. The caring and concern presented by Atticus Finch is too idealistic. This extreme idealistic portrayal extends to his role as a single father and a parent.

Atticus has two children (Jem and Scout), he is a model father, who instills in his children valuable life lessons. He treats them as his equals which is shown as they call him Atticus, not father. Atticus is always fair when dealing with his children. “When Jem an’ I fuss Atticus doesn’t ever just listen to Jem’s side of it, he hears mine too” (page 95). If his children ask a question he always answers it, “When a child asks you something, answer him” (page 97). The morals that govern his life, he tries to instill in his own children; they are not allowed to fight or treat negroes differently. He also makes the time to educate them at home.

Atticus Finch is a paragon, he represents all that is virtuous in man. He is respected by everyone in Maycomb, he is the most devoted father, he manages every situation in his life with courage and caring, he is always dignified and respectful, morally correct and never exhibits any prejudice. However this presentation of Atticus Finch is far too idealistic, he in fact becomes too good to be true.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59