Atticus Finch in the courtroom

What can we learn about Atticus Finch from his speech to the courtroom?

One thing we can learn about Atticus Finch from his speech to the courtroom is that he is a very brave and courageous character. He is very modern thinking and his views go against the majority of other people. We are told that “Atticus did something no one had ever seen him do before, in person or in private; he unbuttoned his vest, loosened his tie and undid his collar”. By saying no one had ever seen him do it before, in person or in private, it shows us he is willing to put himself out of his comfort zone and put his reputation on the line to try to save another poor helpless man.

Another thing that is made clear is that Atticus is a kind-hearted and reasonable man. He is very understanding and clever with words. He says, “I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state, but my pity does not extend so far as to putting another man’s life at stake, which she has done in an effort to get rid of her own guilt”. This shows us that he is a very sensible person who is trying to let everyone know the truth as to what happened. He doesn’t care about his reputation as he is standing up for a black person who would usually have no chance in a case like this: against a very high ranked white man and white lady. It shows us again that he is very modern thinking and is very anti-racist.

He disagrees and is intensely against racism and those who are racist. Atticus does not define people by the colour of their skin and he is always polite to everyone even if they are not to him. He is much more mature than a lot of the other characters and he would never purposely offend or irritate anyone. He is very professional and passionate about his job and he is extremely persuasive and believes in his ability to defend anyone no matter who they are up against. He is always respectful to everyone in the courtroom and this makes him seem like a very professional lawyer which could be another one of his persuasive factors towards the judge and jury. Atticus begins his speech with a logical appeal to the audience. He starts by saying that there was not enough evidence for the court to even come to trial, stating, “The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever even took place”. He continues to point out that evidence shows that Mayella Ewell was beaten by someone’s left hand, whereas Tom Robinson is obviously right handed.

Stating these true and logical facts which are backed up with evidence at the very start of his speech is important because it shows the jury the missing links in the case and plants a seed of doubt in their minds right from the start. This shows us again that he is a very intelligent because he is knocking the perception of the judge and jury back at the very start of the trial so there is always an element of doubt in their mind about the opposing side of the story. Atticus appeals to the audiences emotions by painting a picture of Mayella Ewell as a weak, beaten woman whose only fault was kissing a man of darker skin. He evokes pity for Mayella at first, but then changes it by saying that Mayella’s action of putting Tom Robinson’s life at stake to hide her own guilt is unforgivable.

Atticus then tries to transfer the audience’s pity towards Tom Robinson, who is the real victim in the courtroom. He calls out the so-called ‘witnesses’ for assuming that the jury would believe them just because of Tom Robinson’s skin colour. He addresses the racist preconceptions that the jury might have had and says that they are “better than that”, making them feel guilty for the racism that they may have felt. Atticus tells the jury he is sure they will make the right decision, saying, “Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this man to his family.”

He is putting additional pressure on them to make a choice based on facts and not on preconceived notions of race. He finally ends his speech with one last emotional appeal by bringing up religion. Atticus says, “In the name of god, do our duty. In the name of god, believe Tom Robinson.” He tells the jury that they are working for god by making the right decision, appealing to their religion, which would often be a very effective appeal because in those times the world was a very religious place.

Overall the trial brings out a lot of hidden aspects to Atticus’ character such as how he is very clever and intelligent when he speaks. He is confident and very professional. He sees his job as more than just work, but his duty in helping other people. He has a very bold and brave personality. He isn’t scared to put himself out of his comfort zone and he is always trying to set a good example for Jem and Scout. He is always polite and kind hearted to everyone no matter what and he is a lot more mature and modern thinking than most other people.

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