Panopticism in To Kill a Mockingbird
Rebecca H. Best’s article,” Panopticism and the Use of "the other" in To Kill a Mockingbird” (July 2009), strongly states that Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird uses the concept of Panopticism in the city of Maycomb comparing Maycomb to a Panopticon and therefore changing the behaviors of the society inside. Best backs up her claim by splitting up the Panopticon in to categories like Jem did with his neighbors in To Kill a Mockingbird, showing the changes of each character more carefully in each separate category. Best’s purpose is to point out the way peoples behaviors change in the state of their environment by putting the characters in cells of a Panopticon in order to convince the reader that many relatable situations in To Kill a Mockingbird show how the society in the Panopticon would work based on character actions. Given the sophisticated comparisons from a bestselling book to Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, Best is writing to a highly educated audience with knowledge of both situations in To Kill a Mockingbird and Panopticism with the ability to see the juxtaposition of these two writings. Panopticism that is evident in To Kill a Mockingbird is evident as well in real life like in the case of Trayvon Martin.
Best puts the city of Maycomb into categories where the people like Jem and Scout are in “wing” of the Panopticon along with Atticus, Aunt Alexandra, Miss Maudie, Mrs. Dubose, and their other close neighbors. Best choses to divide them up mostly by social and racial class. But next, Best separates this into subsections by age and gender. Tom Robinson, Calpurnia, Reverend Sykes, Lula, and the rest of the black community compose a second wing, similarly subdivided. A third wing consists of people of the Cunninghams' class, honest and hard-working, but poor and possibly ignorant country folk. The final wing in Jem's division of Maycomb's society is populated by the Ewells - poor white trash. Best begins...
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