The Persuasive Speech of Atticus Finch

In the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Harper Lee uses many rhetorical techniques to persuade us, the audience of the novel and the court, the audience in the novel. Lee uses rhetorical devices to emphasis her attitude towards the idea of black people not being equal to white people and the idea of some things being interpreted wrong and incorrect decisions being made because of the wrong interpretations. Lee shows us this through Atticus summing up what has happened in the case to the people of Maycomb in the court room. The rhetorical techniques that Lee uses help her to explain her point in a clearer way and persuade the audience of the descision. This essay will analyse the different ways in which Lee uses these techniques in Atticus’ summing up speech.

As soon as Atticus’ speech begins Lee uses language to persuade us that Atticus, (who is defending Tom Robinson) is correct. Although “Atticus wasn’t a thunderer” who dominated the whole court room, he was dominating the court room in his own way. Here, Lee presents Atticus as a person who has precision and is clear and certain in what he is saying, although he didn’t dominate the court room, Lee implies that he has control; Atticus had everyone’s attention in the court room. He had a concise delivery. In the court room Lee gives us the impression that Atticus was comfortable. As Atticus “loosened his tie”, we find ourselves thinking that Atticus does have control of this case and he can persuade the jury if he is feeling so calm to take the formality out of his dress code. Lee also uses this action to show us that everyone’s attention was on Atticus. With all the attention on Atticus, Lee presents it as if Atticus is beating the speed of Maycomb. Earlier on in the novel we discover one of Lee’s ideas is that the Maycomb people aren’t all as educated as Atticus; using Atticus she brings the difficult court decisions back to basics so Atticus is able to educ…

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