Atticus Finch, a father in To Kill A Mockingbird says, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view...until you climb inside it and walk around in it." This perfectly defines empathy, which only feels natural when one candidly understands another perspective. According to psychologist Mark Davis, there are three types of empathy: emotional, compassionate and cognitive. In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the characters empathize as a solution to overcome conflicts and illustrate that empathy is at the heart of moral behaviour. To Kill A Mockingbird written by Harper Lee explores the significance of emotional, compassionate and cognitive empathy through the characters Jem, Scout and Atticus.
Lee uses the emotion and youth of the character Jem to demonstrate the importance of emotional empathy through a child’s perspective. Jem sees his father, Atticus as a role model and wants to develop a sense of his mindset which is being logical. Although he desires to achieve a similar mindset to Atticus, it is coherent that he uses his emotions to understand predicaments such as Tom’s trial. Jem does not truly empathize emotionally with Tom’s feelings and situation, as he is only a white male who does not experience brutal racism. Instead, he associates with Atticus’ despair as he tries to prove Tom’s innocence, knowing that it is a battle he will likely lose. This demonstrates emotional empathy as he obtains the ability to resonate with his father’s feelings. Towards the end of the trial, Jem tells Scout, “He's just gone over the evidence...and we're gonna win, Scout. I don't see how we can't" (Lee Chapter 22). Jem feels hopeful about Atticus and knows that the prosecution did not give any substantial evidence to prove that Tom is guilty. This further displays how Jem’s emotions overpower the reality that whites are heavily racist toward African Americans, no matter the circumstance. Once the verdict is made, Jem is traumatized by the results. Scout narrates his emotions as she says, "It was Jem's turn to cry. His face was streaked with angry tears as we made our way through the cheerful crowd. 'It ain't right,' he muttered, all the way to the corner of the square where we found Atticus waiting...'It ain't right, Atticus,' said Jem" (Lee Chapter 22). When Jem empathizes with Atticus’ feelings, he understands his father’s motives and the reason for the unfair verdict. His anger exhibits the negative impact of emotional empathy, yet it becomes a vital part of his growth. Based on Jem’s experiences, empathizing emotionally helps understand the reasoning of a person and may cause distress in response to someone’s pain.
Lee uses the personality of Scout to communicate the significance of compassionate empathy in her relationships. She is greatly identified for her compassionate empathy through her friendship with Boo Radley. At first, Scout sees Boo as an opportunity for entertainment. When she meets him for the first time, she comprehends his situation and leads with compassion in her heart. When Scout empathizes with Boo, she tells Atticus, "Well, it’d be sort of like shootin‘ a mockingbird" (Lee Chapter 30). This signifies her willingness to protect his innocence compassionately and realizes that his intention for saving her should not be penalized. Scout’s compassion for Boo leads her to take him home and learns from his porch that “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough” (Lee Chapter 31). This quote exemplifies the outcome of empathizing which is compassion. She stands on Boo’s porch and contemplates his perspective. She means this literally since she is standing on his porch, but also figuratively as she grasps how vital it is to consider another perspective, to imagine how they see the world and how they might feel about how they are treated. Scout recognizes how revolting the attitudes of Maycomb are and learns that it may be the possible reason Boo does not leave his home. Her gradual expansion of compassionate empathy in Maycomb, eventually leading up to the Boo Radley event, reveals its importance in understanding people, ultimately proposing that this ability can strengthen the features of interpersonal relationships. Empathizing with people causes newfound compassion within the hearts of those who choose to indulge in it.
The character Atticus boldly embodies the attribute of cognitive empathy through his logic and morals. Atticus is a selfless man who tries his best to be moral and polite to everyone, including his children. He teaches his children to be empathetic and sets an example for the rest of Maycomb. At the beginning of the novel, Atticus tells Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Lee Chapter 3). This saying defines empathy well and Atticus defines it morally through his interaction with Bob Ewell. Bob accuses Tom of rape and is exposed to beating Mayella at the trial. Atticus empathizes with Bob and understands his frustration because of it. He is willing to get spit on by Bob to spare Mayella a beating or further abuse for their household. Bob is a contrasting character to Atticus’ logic. Atticus empathizes often with his children and many people, while Bob does not empathize with his children or Tom’s feelings at all. It brings forward a sense that having empathy is important in maintaining a level-headed mindset. Atticus communicates with everyone on an intellectual level, including Bob and uses cognitive empathy to make moral decisions. Another situation that highlights Atticus’ cognitive ability is the Tom Robinson trial. He empathizes with the black community and takes Tom’s case since he believes in a fair trial for everyone. Atticus upholds the law and looks out for his clients' best interests, no matter what. He identifies with Tom's trouble and shows empathy by standing against racial inequalities as well as prejudices without concern for his well-being. Atticus wakes up to a plethora of food, tears up and says, "Tell them I'm very grateful. Tell them—tell them they must never do it again. Times are too hard..." (Lee Chapter 22). The quote further explains Atticus’ empathy toward African Americans. The food comes from Tom’s friends, showing their appreciation for Atticus’ loyal defence. However, Atticus realizes that these gifts are a financial austerity for Tom's poor friends, thus causing his tears. The cognitive ability Atticus has is needed to create a more equitable society and without it, a set of social problems unravel because a sense of perspective is lost within the other person.
The importance of emotional, compassionate and cognitive empathy is displayed through the perspectives of Jem, Scout and Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird written by Harper Lee. Empathy is used to affect emotion, create better relationships or communicate intellectually. The three types of empathy may seem close in definition, but the emotion, kindness and intellect of each character have given the three types a much greater and significant one. Different perspectives on life are fostered which can be for the greater good. One of this novel’s lessons is being empathetic and it reveals that even though everyone has the ability to use empathy, only some choose to use it, only some try to learn it, and others let prejudice hide their ability to use it at all. For the people who hide their ability to use it and create misconceptions, it is a “sin to kill” someone without understanding their perspective beforehand. 

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