What do Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and Poe's short story "Ligeia" have in common?

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A central theme in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird concerns the killing of innocent people, both symbolically and literally, due to prejudices. While the central theme in Edgar Allan Poe's short story "Ligeia" concerns the strength of the human will, a minor theme in Poe's short story also concerns the killing of innocents.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, author Lee uses the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence because the only thing mockingbirds do all day is "make music for us to enjoy" (Ch. 10). Lee uses this symbol to represent Tom Robinson, who is unjustly tried and convicted of rape due to the racial prejudices of his jury, though obviously innocent. He is then killed trying to escape prison, tired of waiting for true justice to be served and wanting to try to take matters into his own hands. In addition, Lee uses the symbol of the mockingbird to represent the innocent and benevolent Arthur (Boo) Radley, who is persecuted because people are unable to respect and understand people's differences such as his desires to remain indoors.

Similarly, in Poe's short story, the innocent Lady Rowena is inadvertently murdered. The narrator of the story had first married and been deeply in love with the beautiful, dark-haired, and exotic Ligeia, who fell ill soon after their marriage. Before her death, she intimated her belief that death can be overcome through strength of will. Overcome with grief after her death and trying to ease his loneliness, he tries to replace Ligeia by marrying the fair-haired and lovely Lady Rowena. Though Rowena has her fair share of beauty, she is ordinary compared to the exotic Ligeia; therefore, she is not enough to distract the brokenhearted narrator. Soon, the narrator shuns Rowena and turns to thoughts of Ligeia, specifically to thoughts of trying to raise her from the dead. As soon as the narrator begins thinking so heavily about raising Ligeia from the dead, the innocent Rowena falls ill and, before her death, speaks nearly hysterically about her feelings of being haunted. After her death, while grieving by her side, the narrator sees her return to life and transform into the lost Ligeia. Hence, due to the strength of the narrator's and Ligeia's mutual wills, the innocent Rowena is inadvertently murdered just so that Ligeia can return to life.

It can also be said that it was out of prejudice that the narrator shunned and eventually killed the innocent Rowena. Since Rowena did not look the same as Ligeia, the narrator rejected her love without truly knowing her, without having any true reason to reject or dislike her, which fits the very definition of prejudice.

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