In To Kill a Mockingbird, why is Dill called a "pocket Merlin"?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 1, Scout refers to Dill as a "pocket Merlin" for his creativity, eccentric plans, and various talents. Merlin was the talented wizard in the legendary tales of King Arthur. Merlin was not only a wizard, but he was also a prophet and King Arthur's advisor. Similar to the character of Merlin, Dill is a "Jack-of-all-trades," and fulfills the roles of various characters when the children are acting out plays for fun. Throughout the novel, Dill is always planning ways to view Scout's reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley. Scout mentions that Dill's plans are rather eccentric, and his fantasies were abnormally imaginative. Dill is constantly making up crazy stories to impress Jem and Scout throughout the novel. Much like Merlin, Dill believes in magic and superstition. Dill even claims to have supernatural powers such as the ability to "smell death." Scout uses the term "pocket" to describe Dill's small stature. Dill's variety of talents and unique personality earn him the name "pocket Merlin" in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 1, Scout says that she, Jem, and Dill pass the summer performing dramas in their treehouse. During the productions, Dill performs the roles she formerly played. When they tire of performing these dramas, Dill comes up with other imaginative plans and fancies.

By calling him a "pocket Merlin," Scout means that Dill is pint-sized but full of magic. He can take a boring day and turn it into something magical, much like the Merlin of myth. Perhaps his greatest adventure is trying to see Boo Radley, as he stands at the light-pole down the block and waits to catch a glimpse of the mysterious person who lives inside the Radley House. While Dill is miniature in size, he has an outsized imagination, earning him the nickname "pocket Merlin."

troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Merlin is a man of mystery and magic; contradiction and controversy surrounded his life."  He was a wizard and prophet for King Arthur.  He was also an adviser to him.  Because of how creative and magical he was, Scout saw those same creative qualities in Dill.  His head "teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies."

Because Dill thought up all their games and plays, and because he was the one who liked to do daring things (such as run up to the Radley house and touch it--to deliver a note to Boo through his window, etc), he was given this title.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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