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Huckleberry Finn


Dualism of Social Dogmas Revealed by Mark Twains Satire in the Novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The present paper deals with analysis of the satire implications in the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The author is known as a master of satire, and the literary work chosen for analysis is a vivid example that Twain is an excellent satirist. The writer could not describe reality directly because of various political, social and even literary reasons. Hence, Twain decided to incorporate satire that ridicules and mocks the vices of that day society in order to focus attention on them. Also, this method captures the readers attention with an interesting flow of the story, implicitly highlighting the essence of foibles and crimes which are committed in the community under the mask of appropriateness and alleged lawful support. This approach is clearly presented in actions and comments of Huckleberry Finn. They demonstrate profound disguise to the existing rules and hypocrisy that is everywhere: in the church, in the family, among friends. The boy opposes such reality by means of his sincere nature, humor and authenticity of priorities. Furthermore, the character is regarded as a protagonist due to his values and choices he makes. Regardless of that his actions and thoughts fail to align with the generally accepted code of behavior and Bible dogmas, Huckleberry Finn is a brave person who reveals the obnoxious nature of society. To be more precise, Huck is a witty voice of the protest against the XX century reality revealing the dualism of social order through the prism of satiric commentary and criticism.

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The purpose of satire is to laugh, criticize and teach by means of ridicule, and even denounce in the joking manner the foibles and vices of a particular period of time, person, or event. Twain incorporated this literary device in his novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as far as it belongs to the protest literary work. The protest is targeted to highlight the evil side of America of the XIX century, for example, swindling, drunkenness, vices and hypocrisy, by mixing together humor and cynic social criticism. Nevertheless, such a background is excessively harsh for the genre of the book, which is a satirical novel. Therefore, Twain applies satire as an ultimate device that reveals the truth and, at the same time, mitigates it. There is a dilemma concerning efficiency of satire in terms of revealing the dualist nature of the society itself. Actually, satire guarantees not only the readers laugh but also contributes to more profound and vivid comprehension of the key ideas the novel targets to convey, i.e., thorough awareness about the most dangerous foibles and crimes of the XIX century. Thus, it is obviously effective as a literary tool. Twain makes implementation of satire even more effective by means of revelation of its dualistic nature. From the writers perspective, satiric implications are used to criticize the object and, at the same time, ridiculed in order to attract the readers attention and emphasize on a particular aspect or trait. The discussed novel presents numerous examples of social dualism evidenced through satire. Since Huckleberry Finn is the main character of this novel, it is relevant to base the course of discussion on him as a central element of the book. Wittiness as a key feature of this hero is a significant illustration to the topic of social dualism. Nonetheless, it is crucial to define the notion of wittiness applied to the figure of Huck Finn. It should be comprehended as wittiness to tell numerous lies virtuously and funny as a way to fight social vices he encounters, and wittiness that permits the boy to perform diversity of unpredictable moral improvisations as a response to dualist character of social norms.

The witty childish lies for the sake of solving adult concerns is a controversial issue as far as Huckleberry lied not only for himself or his friends but also in order to help his enemies. Hence, such behavior may be even regarded as noble, to a certain extent, and a perfect illustration of Twains satire when funny episodes experienced by the protagonist occur to be a tragedy of the entire country and its diverse population, in fact. For instance, a situation that was presented in Chapter XVI can be considered. When Huck was asked about a person on a raft, he did not tell that it was a black person but a white having small-pox disease. Being seemingly an innocent lie, this event is a revelation of racial prejudices that governed the minds of millions at the XIX century. Even persons life would not be an argument to consider due to overwhelming ethnicity-centered discrimination within society of dual norms. Furthermore, special attention in the current context deserves the scene in Chapter XX. In order to save his friend, the boy responds to the swindlers who wondered if Jim was a runaway slave, in a way that is too wise for his tender age: Goodness sake, would a runaway nigger run south? (Twain 207). This witty rhetorical question is not only an embodiment of humor. Conversely, it contains a deep sense felt throughout the book: America that promotes Christian mercifulness, democracy and equality is lying, which reveals the amoral dualism of the communicated ideology from within. These vivid examples are targeted primarily on the evil side of mankind connected with slavery and discrimination of the rights and freedoms of the Afro-American people. Hence, satire obviously criticizes the attitude and treatment of the black race and simultaneously promotes kindheartedness and mercifulness as the key traits every human being should possess. Due to a light satiric approach and a witty manner, the author achieves the key goal of the aforementioned scenes to demonstrate the vice of multidimensional slavery to the readers.

Hucks moral grounds should also be discussed in the given context. The boy manages to find amazing balance between religious norms, dogmas and improvisations, which are his everyday activity, connected with the adventures he and his friends tend to experience. For example, an extraordinary improvisation of a law-breaker Huckleberry is presented in Chapter XVI. The boy faces a hard dilemma as far as he has either to save Jim and betray the essence of being a good citizen and a true, devoted Christian namely, to go to hell (Twain 260), or to betray Jim and earn a good reputation. Probably, the fact that a child perceives a go-to-hell option literary due to all-embracing religious propaganda may be found an ordinary thing to laugh at. However, this is where Twains satiric mechanism should work. God, who sacrificed his sons life for peoples salvation could not have required from them making such choices, while the society, hiding behind religion, does. The choice Finn makes is apparent and predictable: he is ready to go to hell for the sake of his friends well-being. It is a solid moral dilemma since he has to choose between norms, rules and friendship. In this way, satire again proves dualism governing the society.

One more example of a witty protest by Huckleberry is described in Chapter XXXII, showing how the issues of religion and racial discrimination can multiply the strength of social dualism that is expanded to the community as a whole. The scene presents attempts the boy makes in order to save a slave and his suffering in result of conscious violation of the religion and its dogmas as well as social norms. Actually, Huck ends this controversy with a brilliant justification of his deeds: I went right along, not fixing up any particular plan, but just trusting to Providence to put the right words in my mouth when the time come; for Id noticed that Providence always did put the right words in my mouth, if I left it alone (Twain 265). The phrase represents a funny reasoning of a child who faced a troublesome situation, but its meaning is very deep, from a satiric and cynic standpoint. In other words, people are blind in their decisions, whereas they are taught to trust to Providence by the society that follows no rules and knows nothing about Providence, in fact. Thus, not only blacks but the entire US population is slaves, to a specific degree.

Thus, satire in the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain is a constructive and efficient literary device. Applying this tool, Mark Twain reveals the vices and foibles of XX century society by means of criticisms and ridicule. Moreover, it is evident that dualism revealed by satire is embodied in the character of Huckleberry Finn as a witty voice of the authors protest against duality that governs the society he lived in. The boy reveals the evil side of Americas worldview in a playful manner and transforms it in ridicule in order to denounce it as much as possible.

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