To Kill A Mockingbird
written by Horton Foote, from the novel by Harper Lee
Atticus Finch: Gentlemen, I shall be brief, but I would like to use my remaining time with you to remind you that the case of Mayella Ewell vs. Tom Robinson is not a difficult one. To begin with, this case should have never come to trial. The state of Alabama has not produced one iota of medical evidence that shows that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place. This case is as simple as black and white. It requires no minute sifting of complicated facts, but it does require you to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant.
Miss Ewell did something that in our society is unspeakable: she is white, and she tempted a Negro. The defendant is not guilty, but someone in this courtroom is. I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state, but my pity does not extend so far as to her putting a man's life at stake. She knew full well the enormity of her offense, but because her desires were stronger than the code she was breaking, she persisted. The state of Alabama has relied solely upon the testimony of two witnesses who's evidence has not only been called into serious question, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant.
I need not remind you of their appearance and conduct on the stand. They have presented themselves in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted. They were confident that you, the jury, would go along with the evil assumption that all Negro's lie, and are immoral. Mr. Robinson is accused of rape, when it was she who made the advances on him. He put his word against two white people's, and now he is on trial for no apparent reason- except that he is black.
Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal, a phrase that the government is fond of hurling at us. There is a tendency in this year of grace, 1935, for certain people to use that phrase out of context, to satisfy all conditions. We know that all men are not created equal in the sense that some people would have us believe. Some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they are born with it, some men have more money than others, and some people are more gifted than others.
But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal. An institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the ignorant man the equal of any president, and the stupid man the equal of Einstein. That institution is the court. But a court is only as sound as its jury, and the jury is only as sound as the men who make it up.
I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restore the defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, gentlemen, believe Tom Robinson.
Kudos and much thanks go to Tracy for the donation of this monologue, it is very much appreciated.
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