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Posted on May 4th, 2014, by

The novel To Kill a Mockingbird written by a well-known American writer Harper Lee is considered to be a classic of contemporary American literature. The author of the novel reveals a great variety of themes in her literary work including the theme of morality, the theme of good and evil, the theme of social inequalities, etc. Harper Lee as a professional writer and a good psychologist helps the readers to realize the importance of moral nature in human beings, and to show the best traits of human character in her fictitious heroes. In the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird, Harper Lee portrays Atticus Finch as a true hero who shows his wisdom and courage, bravery and determination. He is also respected greatly by other members of the community. Atticus as a true hero is ready to help everybody who is in trouble. The above mentioned characteristics clearly portray Atticus Finch as a true hero in Harper Lee’s novel. The major goal of the research paper is to discuss Atticus as a hero figure and analyze his heroism throughout the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, paying special attention on the ways he is represented as a hero and some limitations to his heroism.

Atticus Finch one of the main characters of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mocking Bird  is a good father and a reliable and experienced lawyer in the city of Maycomb. He has two children: Scout and Jem. According to the plot of the book, he is a widower who possesses a dry sense of humor. It is known that Atticus Finch pays special attention to moral education of his children.  He sets a standard of morality that no other character in the book comes close to matching (Milton & Lee 13).  He is sure that morality and justice are the basis of our society. As a lawyer and a person of high moral values who knows and follows the established rules and regulations, Atticus is committed to morality and racial equality. When Atticus agrees to defend a black man Tom Robinson, who is under the accusation of raping a young white woman, he and the members of his family are exposed to the anger of the white community members (Litton 12). However, after the trial, he seems to be respected in the same way as before. It is true that the main character’s wisdom, strong convictions and empathy made Atticus a real hero of his times.

Moreover, Atticus is one of those men who use the ethic of sympathy and understanding in all situations and does not hold a grudge against other people who live in Maycomb, although most of them are indifferent to racial inequality that exists in the community. Atticus tries to find positive characteristics in them and forgive their bad qualities. Atticus, as a good father, tries to pass this great moral lesson to his children: Scout and Jem (Mills 39).

Although Atticus is regarded as a heroic figure in Harper Lee’s novel and a respected person in the community, neither Scout nor Jem value his traits of character at the beginning of the novel. Both of them are embarrassed by the fact that Atticus is older than other fathers in Maycomb and that he doesn’t like to go fishing and hunting. But Atticus wisdom helps him to win the respect of his children. He says, Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him (Lee 42). It is found that in the last chapters of the novel, Jem, as a good son, is devoted to his father and Scout, as a small girl, loves him.

The author represents a number of situations in the novel when Atticus shows his heroism. One of the scenes is when he shoots the dog, which was mad. It means that Atticus is a real protector. This fact is proved by Heck Tate, who says, Mr. Finch, this is a one shot job! (Lee 25). Heck Tate is one of those people who put their faith in Atticus as a protector. The other situation which proves the heroism of Atticus is when he blocks the entrance to the court from Walter Cunningham and those people who were ready to kill Tom Robinson. Of course, it proves that Atticus is brave and courageous. When Atticus defends Tom Robinson in the court, he is shown by the author as a true hero. Atticus Finch explains his son the meaning of the real courage: I wanted you see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. (Lee 76). Atticus is ready to fight for truth and he will fight using his wisdom and courage.

Harper Lee as a clever and experienced writer effectively uses the connotations right and left in descriptions of the behavior and actions of her characters. The personality of Atticus is not difficult to understand when the author uses such literary techniques. Atticus is portrayed with the connotation right more often than other characters in the novel.  One of the critics states that Atticus represents moral value, and he uses his right’ mind and his good, right’ eye to defend Tom (Champion 236).  In the research article Rethinking Atticus Finch (2010), the authors state that Atticus is a reason people become lawyers, and once they become lawyers, Atticus is the person many lawyers aspire to be (1351).  He can be regarded as an aspirational standard of professional conduct. This fictional hero is highly valued by the lawyers in the United States.


            In conclusion, it is necessary to say that Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mocking Bird is one of those literary works that can have an enormous impact on the formation of human character, because the author portrays a real hero with the best traits of human character. Atticus Finch is a true hero as he is brave, wise, just and self-confident. The behavior and actions of this man deserve respect and admiration

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