What Does Miss Maudie Teach Scout: Shaping Understanding Of Gender Roles


Whether it’s racism or sexism, the book “How to Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee gives us insight into prejudices during the Great Depression. This brilliant novel is a perfect example of great American literature and is used in thousands of schools in the United States. The main character that to kill a Mockingbird is based around is a six-year-old girl, Jean Louise Finch, otherwise referred to as Scout. She grows up in a small town named Maycomb, a place where everyone knows everyone and where privacy and secrets are unheard of. Scout is a tomboy, always in overalls and muddy shoes, spending the majority of her time playing with her older brother, Jem, and a good friend named Dill.


Miss Maudie: The Optimistic Rebel

She is an intelligent and rather tough girl, and she has a simple view of what is right and what is wrong. Jem is more skilled at noticing the gray areas. Both of these kids have been brought up by Atticus (their father). He is a soon-to-be lawyer who has a great sense of morals. When I read this book, I was immediately intrigued by Lee’s description of the gender roles in the small town of Maycomb. The story is told by both Scouts as a child and when shoes more grown. It looks into a period of three years and follows the children through a true journey with rough and confusing times in their lives.

Scout, used to a quiet and relatively mundane routine, is hesitant to adapt to changes in the world around her. Scout’s life and surroundings are discussed in this book in an interesting way. Scout had to conform to worldly standards for women during her early life but as a young girl. These worldly standards are best shown by the behaviors of the women in the novel.

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Scout illustrates how women are expected to behave from a young age by Lee. Women should be kind and gentle to the public and maintain a good appearance. Scout has been described as a tomboy, unlike the other girls. Instead of being a ‘ladylike’ girl, she is tough and playful. She initiates brawls, curses at adults, and makes curt and sarcastic remarks about them. As a whole, her character comes across as a likable and empathic character. Scout illustrates how women are expected to behave from a young age by Lee. Women should be kind and gentle to the public and maintain a good appearance. Scout has been described as a tomboy, unlike the other girls. Instead of being a ‘ladylike’ girl, she is tough and playful. She initiates brawls, curses at adults, and makes curt and sarcastic remarks about them. As a whole, her character comes across as a likable and empathic character.

Scout is upset when she is forced to conform to gender roles. Eventually, she has to attend the local school. To her dismay, she is forced to wear a dress on her first day of school. The dress makes her uncomfortable, and she feels unlike herself. The clothing was deemed appropriate for girls, so she had no choice. She is always accompanied by Jem and Dill, and as the children grow, she hears remarks from them such as, ‘Scout, you’re gettin’ more and more like a girl every day.’ He retaliates with comments such as the one above when she warns him not to do anything foolish, fueled by gender prejudice that implies girls are weak and easily scared. In this way, she will remain silent and won’t voice any more concerns for fear of being banned from joining them in future adventures. As time goes on, she grows increasingly isolated from the boys, who exclude her from their games and spend all their time together. As a result, she is brought into contact with another strong female character in the book, Miss Maudie Atkinson. Scout becomes friends with Miss Maudie after Jem, and Dill leave her out of games. She is the neighbor of the Finch family. Every situation is seen through Miss Maudie’s optimistic eyes. In a fire in which half of her house is burned down, she says, ‘I always wanted a smaller house, Jem Finch.’. Give me more yard. Just think, I’ll have more room for my azaleas now!’.She always responds to problems with practicality and unwavering positivity.

Whenever foot-washing Baptists insult her for gardening, she quotes the Bible right back at them and wears a ‘grin of utter wickedness.’ As a strong female figure Scout respects and trusts, she does not spend time discussing the lives of others and their problems, as the other ladies in town do. Therefore, Scout trusts her for advice. Lee doesn’t give her a husband or children, which adds to her independence and confidence as an individual rather than a character in the context of a family. Throughout the novel, she explains the world to Scout and does not treat her like a naive child. When discussing religion and Christianity with Scout, she tells her, “Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of – oh, of your father” Miss Maudie is almost like a mother figure in Scout’s life, who confides in her and values her opinions. Scout expresses her opinion of Miss Maudie, stating, ‘she had an acid tongue in her head’ but ‘Jem and I had considerable faith in Miss Maudie’ as ‘she was our friend.’ Miss Maudie is optimistic and kind but not afraid to voice her opinions or move against popular opinion. At a ladies’ tea, she is upset by the women being intolerant and racist towards their black help and snaps at one of the women complaining about her cook.

Scout recollects that “When Miss Maudie was angry, her brevity was icy. Something had made her deeply angry, and her grey eyes were as cold as her voice”. Miss Maudie is disgusted by the prejudiced opinions of people and does not subscribe to them. She also supports Scout and helps her to stand up against forces that try to push Scout into stereotypical assumptions and judgments about others. In contrast to Miss Maudie, Scout’s Aunt Alexandra represents the ideal Southern family-oriented woman. She is at the other end of the spectrum, with her conventional beliefs and constant disapproval of Scout’s tomboyish behavior. She complains about Scout wearing overalls to Atticus, who is frustrated by her frequent criticism, and Scout describes the exchange as “The only time I ever heard Atticus speak sharply to anyone.”

Aunt Alexandra: The Conformist Guardian

Scout does not understand her Aunt’s obsession with her clothing. Aunt Alexandra repeatedly tells her that she cannot be a lady if she does not dress like one and that she should engage in more ‘girly’ activities. Aunt Alexandra also says that as a girl, Scout should “be a ray of sunshine” in Atticus’s life, reinforcing the patriarchal expectation that all girls must be positive and happy continuously and brighten up the lives of their husbands or fathers. AUNT ALEXANDRA REPEATEDLY TELLS HER THAT SHE CANNOT BE A LADY IF SHE DOES NOT DRESS LIKE ONE. She enforces this and tries to get Scout to conform to gender roles despite seeing how resistant she is to them. She takes part in all the ‘right activities,’ such as hosting missionary circles, joining clubs, and gossiping with a passion. She is portrayed as judgmental and quick to create prejudices in her mind about others.

Scout reflects upon her Aunt’s attitude and says, “When Aunt Alexandra went to school, self-doubt could not be found in any textbook, so she knew not its meaning.” Aunt Alexandra takes it upon herself to exert a ‘feminine influence’ on Scout’s life as she grows, and Scout resents her interference. She does not support or guide Scout as Miss Maudie does and tries to make her change. While Scout tries to remain indifferent towards her Aunt and her efforts, at a point in the novel, she begins to respect her. When dealing with a crisis during her ladies’ tea, Aunt Alexandra regains her composure and handles it gracefully, resulting in Scout remarking, “If Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.”


As we watch Scout mature and gain a deeper understanding of the adult world, we see how her environment influences her opinions. The roles of Miss Maudie and Aunt Alexandra are the most significant in Scout’s upbringing and perspective of the world. To Kill a Mockingbird covers several themes that are challenging and often uncomfortable to encounter and explore, such as racism and loss of innocence. However, it is regarded as timeless for a reason- Lee’s skillful character development and narration create a powerful and relatable story, one that is both informative and thought-provoking. As a feminist, seeing its depiction of sexism and gender stereotypes was interesting as it helped me gain a better understanding of the manifestations of conventional ideals in a young girl’s life.


  1. Lee, H. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird. HarperCollins.
  2. Bode, R. (1977). The Origins of Southern Radicalism: The South Carolina Upcountry, 1800-1860. Oxford University Press.
  3. Hooks, B. (1984). Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. South End Press.


How Did Mercutio Die: The Tragic Demise In Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet


In the first scene of act three, the play opens with Mercutio, Benvolio, and other men in the streets of Verona. Benvolio wishes to leave, stating, “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire. The day is hot; the Capulets, abroad; And if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl.”

Mercutio’s Personality and Conflict with Tybalt

He wishes not to battle with the Capulets. Mercutio doesn’t really care not, though, and continues walking in the streets. Soon Tybalt and other Capulets show up and begin to talk with Mercutio. Mercutio Responds to Tybalt’s requests by saying, “Couple it with something. Make it a word and a blow.” Antagonizing Tybalt. Benvolio tries to calm Mercutio down but fails. Romeo arrives. Tybalt declares his animosity towards Romeo and his intentions for battle, but Romeo doesn’t want to fight him. Mercutio is happy to take Romeo’s place and duels Tybalt. Romeo tells Benvolio to draw his sword and help break up the fight.

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Mercutio is killed by Tybalt, and Tybalt is then killed by Romeo. The civilians arrive, and Romeo runs to escape the prince’s wrath. The prince declares, “Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill,” saying that Romeo is exiled from Verona forever. After the battle, the Nurse comes to Juliet, who is happy about her marriage. She soon becomes sad when she hears the news that Tybalt is dead and Romeo is exiled. Juliet wishes to see her Romeo again, so she sends the Nurse to retrieve him and give him her ring, “O, find him! Give this ring to my true knight, And bid him come to take his last farewell.” Romeo goes and hid himself inside the Friar’s cell and is somberly eager to hear his sentence from the prince. When the Friar tells him that he has only been exiled, he reacts like, “Ha, banishment! Be merciful, says “death,” meaning that he would rather die than be banished from Verona and Juliet. Romeo says, “There is no world without Verona walls.” The Nurse then shows up and tells Romeo about Juliet, and this makes him incredibly sad. He was sad enough to nearly kill himself, but the Friar talked him down and convinced him that he should still live. The Nurse then told him to come to Juliet and gave him the ring. We then open with Paris and Lord and Lady Capulet talking about marriage. Lord Capulet tells Paris to wait until Thursday so that Juliet can grieve and sends Paris away. He then sends his wife to tell Juliet, who isn’t very excited about having to marry Paris. Lord Capulet comes up to Juliet and is not very happy about this telling his daughter, “Out, you green sickness, carrion! Out, you baggage! You tallow face.”


Juliet’s parents tell her that she either marries Paris or is shunned and kicked out. She tries to find help from the Nurse, but she tells her that she should just give up on Romeo and marry Paris. This makes Juliet feel sad and powerless and ends with her saying that she will seek help from Friar Lawrence, and if that doesn’t work, “If all else fail, myself have the power to die.” She is ready to die if she can’t get help.


  1. Shakespeare, William. “Romeo and Juliet.”, 2011


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