How is Mayella Ewell symbolized as a mockingbird?

Mayella can be seen as a mockingbird because she tries to beautify her surroundings and remain innocent despite terrible circumstances. Conversely, Mayella can be seen as not a true mockingbird because the mockingbird symbolizes one who does not harm others. Though Mayella is a victim and an object of pity, her actions and false accusations cause great harm to Tom Robinson.

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Mayella Ewell is considered a symbolic mockingbird throughout the novel because she is defenseless, vulnerable, and in need of protection. Despite Mayella's apparent malevolent attitude during the trial, she grows up in an unstable home and is subjected to physical and sexual abuse from her alcoholic father. In Scout 's...

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Mayella Ewell is considered a symbolic mockingbird throughout the novel because she is defenseless, vulnerable, and in need of protection. Despite Mayella's apparent malevolent attitude during the trial, she grows up in an unstable home and is subjected to physical and sexual abuse from her alcoholic father. In Scout's opinion, Mayella is the loneliest person in the world because she has no friends and never has a chance to leave her family's shack.

Even though Mayella is just a teenager, she is forced to raise her numerous younger siblings by herself and take care of the household while her father is out getting drunk. Mayella's red geraniums indicate that she has a gentle spirit, which has been abused throughout the years. Mayella is defenseless against her father's strength and cannot stop him from abusing her. In this way, Mayella is portrayed as an unfortunate, vulnerable victim, which makes her a symbolic mockingbird. 

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In this novel, a mockingbird comes to symbolize a person who brings beauty into the world and never inflicts harm on anyone. In some ways, this description could apply to Mayella Ewell. After all, the young girl does try to bring beauty to her little bleak, rundown home with the limited resources that she has available:

Against the fence, in a line, were six chipped enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for as tenderly as if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson.

Mayella longs for a more beautiful life, and her flowers show her hope for a life apart from her poverty-stricken existence and her abusive father.

Strictly speaking, however, Mayella isn't a mockingbird, and this is because she doesn't only make the world more beautiful—she also acts in ways that are selfish and harmful to others. She lures Tom Robinson to her house so that she can make romantic advances on him. When she's testifying at the trial, she screams at Atticus, who shows her nothing but compassion. Most damning of all, she refuses to tell the truth about her encounter with Tom Robinson; her false testimony sends Tom to jail and ultimately to his death.

You could certainly argue that Mayella is a character who deserves pity. She is left to care for all of her younger siblings while her abusive father drinks up the money they need for food. She herself has no one to bring a touch of beauty into her life, which is why she is drawn to the unfailingly polite and kind Tom Robinson in the first place. She has only ever known hate and abuse, and she has experienced so little goodness that she cannot understand Atticus's kindness to her when she is on the stand.

Still, if we look at the symbolism of a mockingbird in the book, it's clear that Mayella is not a mockingbird in the same way that Tom and Boo Radley are. For this reason, it could be argued that Mayella is a more complex character than Tom and Boo, as it is difficult to characterize her as wholly good or evil.

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Mayella Ewell is a product of her environment in To Kill a Mockingbird. During Tom Robinson's trial, Atticus is able to create a picture of Mayella's home life by carefully framing his questions to her. Her father is a heavy drinker, the family receives money from government assistance, and she doesn't have an education or friends. Falsely accusing an innocent man of a crime hardly fits Miss Maudie's view of a mockingbird when she says, "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy." However, although she costs a man his life, perhaps there is more to Mayella's character.

Mayella maintains beautiful red geraniums that seem in stark contrast to her surroundings. At nineteen years old, she is responsible for taking care of her younger siblings leaving her no time for any companionship with others her age. When she asks Tom for help, he responds in a kind way. She is so starved for affection that she takes advantage of the only man that can't exercise power over her. To say that Mayella is a mockingbird in the way that we consider Boo Radley to be one feels like a stretch. However, if we consider her surroundings and her efforts to bring beauty and color into those surroundings despite the ugliness and filth, perhaps the metaphor fits.

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Within To Kill a Mockingbird, the titular mockingbird is described as a creature which doesn't "do one thing but make music for us to enjoy." It is, thus, said that it is a sin to kill such an animal. We may see Mayella as a mockingbird because of the damage done to her by the forces of poverty and patriarchy. Her environmental circumstances--growing up penniless in the home of an abusive father and being forced to care for her siblings at such a young age--have shaped her irrevocably. She is at the mercy of those around her, and it is easy to see her as a fragile character in need of protection or saving from the cruelty of the world. However, this is an imperfect metaphor as Mayella is not as pure of heart as the mockingbird. Her need to defend herself and her fear of backlash from the community result in her falsely accusing Tom Robinson of rape after she made sexual advances on him. This horrific action results in the innocent man being found guilty and his life being consequently destroyed.

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Mockingbirds symbolize innocent beings who bring joy to others, cannot defend themselves, and never do anything to harm anyone. Although Mayella Ewell does not strictly fit this definition because she harms Tom Robinson by accusing him of assaulting and raping her, Mayella is in many ways a symbolic mockingbird. She grows up in an abusive home, and it is suggested that her father, Bob Ewell, sexually molests her. She is also forced to take care of her siblings and do all the household chores by herself. Mayella is so busy taking care of her siblings that her social life suffers, which is why she has no friends. She is completely helpless, which connects to the defenseless nature of mockingbirds. Similar to how mockingbirds bring joy to others, Mayella also tries her best to keep her home clean and even plants red geraniums to beautify her trashy yard. Overall, Mayella can be described as a symbolic mockingbird because she is helpless and attempts to make her family happy, although she does directly cause Tom Robinson and his family harm by falsely accusing him of rape.

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Mayella Ewell is not symbolized by the mockingbird referred to in the title of the book, To Kill a Mockingbird.

According to the passage from which the title originates, "It's a sin to kill a mockingbird" because "mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy." In other words, you can't kill mockingbirds because they don't do anything to hurt anyone.

Mayella Ewell is hurting Tom Robinson with her accusation of rape. Therefore, she cannot be the mockingbird from the title. However, there are at least two other characters who do fit that description: Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. Tom, on trial for rape, has never hurt anyone as far as we know, yet he is being persecuted by the Ewells as they try to cover up their own shame. Boo Radley may have been a wild young man years before, but he no longer deserves to be bothered and slandered by the neighborhood children, who make him out to be some kind of subhuman monster until he saves their lives at the end of the story.

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