If a producer was to make an adaptation of Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mockingbird and wanted to extricate Miss Maudie's role from the film, not only would the dynamic of the characters be irreparably damaged, but the film would also be excluding one of the most powerful humanizing forces in the novel. The novel is fundamentally about perspectives within a whole interconnected system of personal and societal forces, and Miss Maudie offers one of the only sensitive voices in the novel that enables Jem and Scout to develop this skill. Additionally, Miss Maudie is one of the only progressive female voices in the novel and her very presence can be used to counterpoint the other oppressive doctrines in the novel, adding an entirely singular and rich layer to the theme of the novel.
[...] Dubose's disgusting racism, she is one of the most poignant examples of courage in the novel as she was virtually before she began (Lee, The waxy white camellia that she gives Jem is a symbol not only of her strength against her addiction, but of the sense of self and clarity she finally achieves before dying. Flowers appear again as a female symbol in the storyline of Mayella Ewell, who attempts to display a sense of dignity and control against her horrid living conditions by carefully tending her red geraniums. The red geraniums also represent a desire for love and tenderness that she has been denied. However, although Mayella's flowers are poignant, Harper Lee delineates a line between when empathy is necessary and when it becomes destructive, and Mayella crosses this line. [...]
[...] When Jem and Scout appear later and feel disenfranchised by the trial she explains that the fact that the jury was kept out for so long was a “baby-step” in the right direction (Lee, In fact, while Atticus simply tells the children not to kill a mockingbird with their rifles, Miss Maudie explains that, “Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird (Lee, By the end of the novel Scout is able to emerge as a young adult with the ability to truly have [...]
[...] While the female perspective in To Kill a Mockingbird would not have been possible without Miss Maudie, the perspective of empathy as a whole could not have been possible without her. Miss Maudie reinforces Atticus's assertion that you must have empathy for others, and allow them the fullness of their humanity. When Atticus is too seemingly cool or laconic to explain things to the children Miss Maudie will with fervor. When the children ask her about Boo Radley she explains that, remember Arthur Radley as a boy He always spoke nicely to me no matter what folks said he did (Lee, Where Atticus simply tells the children not to mock him and treat him with the dehumanizing mysticism that they surround him with, Miss Maudie actually takes the time to humanize him with her stories. [...]
[...] When Miss Maudie explains the history of Boo Radley she also recognizes how damaging Christianity can be, and says that Boo Radley's father was a “foot-washing Baptist (Lee, This view into the oppressive nature of Christianity is necessary as it adds a dimension of humanity to Boo Radley, but it also adds a dimension of female perspective because Miss Maudie also recognizes that the “foot-washers think women are a sin by definition (Lee, The fact that there is a woman as progressive as Miss Maudie to explain the ironies of Christianity to Scout is incredibly important, because in order for Scout to survive the novel with a healthy sense of worldly perspective without being broken, Miss Maudie had to show her how to be female without being broken by the constructed ideals of femininity. [...]
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