Feminine Power in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Kayla Cornell
Atkinson
English 11 – 2A
17 March 2011
Final Draft
Whether young or middle-aged, the female characters in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn played vital roles. They were more a part of the novel’s scenic backdrop, but their function served in shaping the main character(s). The women and girls of the book were stereotypical, teachers, and “worse” than the males.

The female characters were given stereotypical qualities, being depicted from an American man’s point of view. They were perceived as virtuous, innocent, helpless women, needing aid from the male characters. Women’s vulnerability can be made out in chapter eleven of the novel, where Judith Loftus confesses to wanting the assistance of Huck, “she told me to try for the next one” (Twain 59). Females occupy the back of the novel, seen as “nagging, providing inspiration, often weeping or hysterical” (Walker 139-153). You can witness this in chapter twenty-eight of the novel, where Huck stumbles upon Mary Jane Wilks, “she had stopped now, with a folded gown in her lap, and had her face in her hands, crying” (Twain 187). They possessed many assets, including: honesty, compassion, a sense of duty, innocence, and limitation; making them look powerless, as they were in the society of those days.

Women were also the teachers of those days. Not only is Huck taught his education by women, but learns the ways of humanity from them as well. Some women, such as the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson, are “principal female mentors” (Walker 139-153). Huck Finn begins developing more and more traits from the females you see him interacting with. Often he “tries to run from the civilizing presence of women” (Walker 139-153). This is shown in the final chapter of the novel, “Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it” (Twain 293). He is educated in school books, societal etiquette, and the Christian faith. You can find these teachings from Miss Watson in chapter one of the...
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