Resistance as a Virtue in Scarlett’s Handwriting – Antigone Quotes and To Kill a Mockingbird
Resistance is a virtue that we, as a Westernized society, value highly. To withstand the intense pain, the struggles, or just the annoyance, or even muster the strength to endure an infinitely tempting pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby, it must be respected, appreciated, and sometimes adored. History is littered with examples of those towering superhumans who demonstrated the ability to smile and bear it while turning the other cheek. Think of Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, or even the countless Christian saints revered for their historic sacrifice and strength.
It should come as no surprise that our reverence for those who endure has crept into our storytelling. Stories of strength, physically excruciating and daunting tasks, and the ability to beat the odds are the things that define our heroes. More importantly, these kinds of tales also define humanity as a whole. They represent not only our values and our morals as mere humans, but they also construct social norms and rules that shape our societies. Once again, religious figures like Jesus and Buddha come to mind, whose teachings have shaped our perceptions of how we should act as human beings for thousands of years. Consider the golden rule, a virtue found in almost every religion that urges people to treat others as they would like to be treated, as a kind of resistance test. Especially when you’re in line at the DMV. That bitter (and completely justifiable) attitude will only bring you more bitterness.
A classic literary example of worthy resistance, especially with religious overtones, is Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, in which Hester Prynne, a young woman living in the puritanical Massachusetts Bay Colony area of the mid-17th century, is publicly punished and shamed. for having a child with someone. who is clearly not her husband, since the guy has been MIA for a few years. As part of her punishment, she is forced to wear the letter “A” to forever mark her as an adulteress. Yet despite her incarceration, constant public embarrassment, and general disenfranchisement, Hester endures. A woman of honor, she does not publicly reveal who her father is (he is the minister of the town, by the way) to protect him and his reputation. Her love for the minister gives meaning and purpose to her suffering, making her a patient and relatively tolerant literary figure with religious overtones.
Another notable female figure of resistance is Antigone, Sophocles’ famous play about a young noblewoman whose morals and attitude of doing the right thing prompts her to defy the king’s irrational decree forbidding the proper burial of her traitorous brother. Her courage and impudence is what largely defines her ability to resist, refusing to back down or portray her sister as an accomplice while standing before the king. Although he commits suicide offstage while in prison, Sophocles implies that his action was not out of fear or despair, but was another way to challenge and frustrate the tyrannical king. That level of commitment and courage is similar to the virtues contained in our human capacity to persevere, which often go hand in hand.
The trope of female endurance is also not lost on Harper Lee, who created Scout, a tough tomboy character who learns that with femininity comes great strength and an undeniable ability to endure tough times. In one of the To Kill a Mockingbird quotes, Scout discovers that her Aunt Alexandra’s insistence on courteous hospitality in light of Tom’s tragic death is in fact an attribute of endurance and strength rather than a hypocritical display. or insensitive. Scout says: “Aunt Alexandra looked at me across the room and smiled. She looked at a tray of cookies on the table and nodded. I took the tray carefully and saw myself walking towards Mrs. Merriweather. With my best friends.., I asked her if she wanted to. After all, if Auntie could be a lady at a time like this, I could too. “
Our stories show us humans to keep going and endure through tough times. After all, it is what makes us human.