For any speech to be successful, it must persuade its audience. To attain this goal, the speech has to first get the attention of the audience and at all times, maintain those audiences interest. In Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, in his speech to the jury uses conflicting ideas to arouse and keep the interest of the jurors. By doing so, Atticus tries to sway his audience toward his ultimate intention, proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Tom Robinson is not guilty of attacking Mayella Ewell.
As a lawyer defending a black man being accused of rape in the 1930s, Atticus indicates to his prejudiced audience that he, like everyone else, has nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state. After establishing this rapport with his audience, Atticus firmly tells the jury that his pity does not extend so far as to her Mayellas putting mans life at stake, which she has done in an effort to get rid of her own guilt. Through these two conflicting ideas, Atticus shifts the role of the criminal and the victim by implying that Tom, is also a victim. On the other hand, Atticus does not accuse Mayella of her guilt. Instead, he again builds up mutual understanding with his audience that Mayella, too is a victim, the victim of cruel poverty and ignorance.
Expectantly, this is again later supplemented with a contradiction when Atticus stated, but I cannot pity her she struck out at her victim Tom Robinson of necessity she must put him away from her he must be removed from her presence, from this world. She must destroy the evidence of her offense.
Later in his speech, Atticus Finch mentions a quote of Thomas Jefferson, all men are created equal. He tells the jury that in reality, it is not the case, we know all men are not created equal some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because theyre born with it. Atticus here appeals to the common sense of the juror that Tom Robinson, being a black man is not viewed as an equal.
But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal, Atticus goes on to say that in fact, theres a human institution when all men are created equal; it is the great reveler, our court system. Atticus Finch again establishes the mutual understanding with his audience by agreeing with them that yes, in society, theres no true equality among people. However, Atticus contradicts his statement to show that in a court of law where justice is served, all men, including Tom Robinson, are created equal.
Even when he is advancing his case upon the objectivity of the law, Atticus warns his audience, a court is no better than each of you sitting before me on this jury. That justice can be only served if the jurors put aside their prejudice and assumption. Nevertheless, in one of the last sentence of his speech, Atticus told the jury that he trusted them, I am confident that you gentleman will review without passion the evidence you have heard.
Atticus Finch, utilizing these conflicting ideas not only reminded jurors their duty, but also encouraged them to do so.
In Atticus speech, various contradictions about Mayella Ewell s character, qualities, actions, the ideological equality between people and the integrity of the court, juror system all helped to grab the attention of the audience and convince Atticus audience the innocence of Tom Robinson. Although Atticus Finch fails to persuade his audience that Tom Robinson did not attack Mayella, it in itself is ironically a contradiction; for its effective use of conflicting ideas has achieved the intended result.