Symbolism in To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee

Essay Topic:

The depth of the symbolism of Harper Lees To kill a mockingbird.

Essay Questions:

Why did Harper Lee choose the mockingbirds as the leading symbol of the novel?

How is the motive of the destroy the innocence revealed throughout the plot?

Do Jem and Scout keep the hope for a better future?

Thesis Statement:

The symbolism of the mockingbirds and the character Boo Radley are essential for the message of Harper Lees To kill a mockingbird.


Introduction: It is common knowledge that very often the author shares his message with the reader with the help of certain symbols. Harper Lee’s “To kill a mockingbird” is not an exception. One of the brightest symbolic aspects of the book is the symbol of the mockingbirds. As the novel has the title “To kill a mockingbird” it is obvious that the symbol of the mockingbirds is very strong in the novel. The mockingbirds are actually the innocent people and innocent hopes and illusions that are brutally destroyed by people and their dirty actions. As people destroy the innocence in the souls of little children they continue killing the small helpless mockingbirds. Anyone can be on the mockingbird’s place: Scout with here destroyed perception of the world or Tom Robinson who gets easily killed just because he has a different color of skin and therefore is more likely to be a criminal. Hurting such honest people as Tom Robinson or Boo Radley is compared to shooting a mockingbird by Scout.

Another symbol of Harper Lee’s “To kill a mockingbird” is the character of Boo Radley. While Jem and Scout are still “children” they find is amusing that Boo Radley is so different and never comes out. Following his becomes an adventure for them but throughout the novel this perception of the man changes. They start seeing Boo Radley as a man with a strong personality and change their attitude towards him as he saves them from potential death. In the beginning of the story Boo Radley is more like a mysterious fairy-tale hero to them and at the end he becomes very real as he saves their lives. Boo Radley represents the symbol of the nobleness that still exists in some people and even if people look strange outside they can be very beautiful inside.

Conclusion: Both of the symbols of the book are very important as it can be also said that Boo Radley is a mockingbird himself. The characters of the book suffer – Jem and Scout have no mother, Boo suffers from his father but nevertheless they keep their hearts pure and kind, proving that there is still hope for better.


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