Critical Lens Essay (to Kill a Mockingbird and of Mice and Men)

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Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” In other words, a man’s true self is revealed based on how he reacts when put in a position of leadership. In essence, this quote is indeed valid. Two novels that utilize this significant statement are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. For instance, in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus emerges as a moral leader in Maycomb County when he uses his power to defend the accused, while in the novel Of Mice and Men, Curly takes advantage of his position as the boss’s son and is ultimately cruel to the ‘ranch hands.’ Henceforth, in order to evaluate the true identity of a man’s character, give him power or else he’ll succumb. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus is given the power to save a man’s life and ultimately reveals himself to be a dedicated and moral person. In addition, Atticus is looked up to as a respectable person in his community and many people turn to him when they have a problem or circumstance. This is evident when he agrees to defend Tom Robinson after being graciously asked by Judge Taylor. In doing this, Atticus is characterized as fair-minded because he doesn’t share the racist beliefs of Maycomb County. By appointing Atticus, it is known that he will do everything he can to ensure Tom has a fair trial. Unfortunately, many people are against Atticus’ decision to defend Tom. Coincidentally, this is seen when the angry mob arrives at the jail in an attempt to intimidate Atticus. Despite this conflict with the town, Atticus is still motivated to defend Tom because he knows it is the moral thing to do. Furthermore, Atticus believes that nothing should deny a man from a fair trial; he understands that it is his moral obligation to defend his clients to the best of his ability.

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