To Kill a Mockingbird

A Comparison of Justice in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ 12th Grade

While both Harper Lee and Charles Dickens have parallels in the way they portray justice and the legal system in their respective novels, there are contrasts in the way they portray both Victorian London and the Deep South in the 20th Century. Both novels choose to focus on the shortcomings of the legal system, highlighting the inequality in the way both race and class are treated in society. In today’s society we consider the law to be above this kind of discrimination but this is not always the case, meaning the themes of both novels are as striking and relevant as when they were written. When examining how justice as a theme is depicted in the novels it can split it into three points: crime, innocence and law. Since crime is the source of most of the conflict in the novels, it makes sense to begin by looking at how Dickens and Lee portray this.

In ‘Great Expectations’, Dickens uses Magwitch to show one of the most significant flaws in the Victorian justice system: the cruel and widespread discrimination towards criminals at the time. Dickens believes that the ‘criminals’ were wronged by the justice system and creates a vulnerable character in Magwitch to express this, encouraging pathos from the reader in the process. By...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1666 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10758 literature essays, 2699 sample college application essays, 631 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in