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Courage Comparison Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Autumntime2
Words 1166
Pages 5
I found the definition of courage has various meanings, and there are three main themes or descriptions that show or prove courage. Mostly it is physical courage, emotional courage, and moral courage. The literature of English 421 taught me that it may take a little or a lot of courage to stand up for yourself in order to reach your goal, and you may find courage you never knew you had. I will describe situations of courage that I think were important in the three novels we read, beginning with the novel displaying the least courageous characters and finishing with the novel displaying the most courageous characters.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream It is my opinion this novel did not have the type of characters I would think of as courageous. So, when I was trying to come up with examples of courage from this novel, I thought of Hermia, and the courage she showed when standing up to her parents about Lysander. She loved Lysander, but was supposed to marry Demetrius. There were many conflicts in the novel, mostly about who loved who, and the confusion around why things were happening, not necessarily acts of courage. Hermia stuck to what her heart wanted and that took courage no matter what the Royal parents thought. It takes courage for Hermia to stand up to her father. This is a pretty good example of emotional courage. (Shakespeare, 64)

Lord of the Flies Ralph is the main character in Lord of the Flies. He wants to be leader of the boy’s tribe because the boys voted for him at the beginning of the story. Jack is Ralph’s enemy, and wants to be leader as well. Jack likes power and glory. So Ralph and Jack are always trying to top each other. Jack tries and eventually convinces some of the tribe to side with him. (Golding, 139) Ralph shows courage when he blows into the conch shell to assemble a gathering of the children. He wants the boys to listen to him at their meetings because he thinks he can be a good leader. There was always the fear that some of Ralph’s boys would join up with Jack’s tribe. Eventually all the boys except Piggy sided with Jack, and they stole Piggy’s glasses for making fires. After Piggy’s death, Ralph had to find a way to survive alone, and that took courage because he knew Jack was hunting him and would kill him if he caught him. I don’t think Ralph was naturally a courageous person, but when he really had to stand up for himself and Piggy, he found courage to stay civilized and be very brave until they boys were rescued. (Golding, 224) These acts of courage were physical and moral.
To Kill a Mocking Bird To understand the type of courage shown in To Kill a Mockingbird, you have to know the setting, it is in a made up town in Alabama around 1935. This story is about racial prejudice and the courage it takes to stand up against neighbours, friends and family. In the novel, Atticus defines courage as "... instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." (Lee, Chapter 11, page 121). A really good example of courage is when Atticus is assigned a case that will cause problems for him and his family, because he will be defending a black man called Tom, in a town where whites and blacks were still believed to be very different people. He understood that taking the case could change the way people looked at him and his family and that no one would forgive him for believing in a black man's word and not the white man. Atticus believed standing up for his morals and ethics was more important than what people thought about him. This took a lot of moral courage. Atticus later shows courage when he went to the jail to protect Tom from a mob. Atticus knew that if a mob did go to the jail to lynch Tom, he would be beaten as well. Atticus is a very righteous man, and wants to set a good example for his children, Jem and Scout. One of the best examples of courage in To Kill a Mockingbird comes from Mrs. Dubose. She was a sick old lady, that was dying and she decided she wanted to die without her addiction to morphine. Mrs. Dubose showed courage because she knew she was going to suffer. She never told anyone about her addition and no one knew that was why she could be so mean to Jem and Scout. She did not want to tell anyone about her problems. After Mrs. Dubose's died, people realized she was very courageous in trying to die with dignity. Atticus sees Mrs. Dubose as a strong example of someone with courage and he calls her the bravest person he knows.( Lee, 121) Another example of courage was when Boo Radley rescued Jem and Scout. He lived in his home and never came out. Boo showed courage by coming out of his home when he saw the children being attacked by Bob Ewell. He left his house and did what he needed to do to save them, which was physically very courageous because Bob had a knife, and could have killed Boo. Scout is another character that shows a lot of courage for a child and how it changes from one form of courage to another. Scout is a scrappy girl, and even though fighting is not good, she stands up for herself and everyone she cares about. Later on in the novel, she realizes that another type of courage is to ignore the teasing and mean words of others by walking away and not fighting, like she did with Cecil Jacobs. Then other kids started calling her a wimp for not fighting, that was really hard on Scout, but she was showing she was learning about having courage. From what I have seen in the three novels, people show courage in many different ways. I guess if you fear something, or find it hard to do, when you know you could be killed, made fun of and laughed at but still do what you think is right, that takes courage. Characters like Ralph, Atticus and Hermia were all faced with difficult situations, and that shows courage can happen it all aspects of life. I hope I can remember what is important when I need to have courage for myself and others.

Work Cited

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1965. 9-296. Print.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. London: Faber and Faber, 1954. 1-225. Print.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummerr Night's Dream. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 1-102. Print.

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