27 April 2012
Satirical Elements in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
It is obvious that Mark Twain intended for readers of Huckleberry Finn to discover the hidden messages, meanings, and lessons within the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. At the beginning of the novel, Twain states that “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot” to cause the curious reader to search for such things. Most of these secret messages are written through satire, allowing Twain to point out and ridicule societal ills at the time. Racist, ignorant, and cruel thoughts or individuals are called out in the novel in a humorous manner using satire.
After abandoning him for a long time, Huck’s father Pap sneaks back into the house and is angry with him. Pap was wearing, “just rags, that was all. He had one ankle resting on t’other knee; the boot on that foot was busted, and two of his toes stuck through” (Twain). “You’re educated, too, they say – can read and write. You think you’re better’n your father, now, don’t you, because he can’t? I’ll take it out of you. Who told you you might meddle with such hifalut’n foolishness, hey? – who told you you could?”, says Pap to Huck. This quote is ironic because most parents would be proud of their child when he or she is educated, rather than condemn them. Since the reader knows this, they understand that the previous quote was an example of irony and satire Twain used to condemn ignorant and cruel individuals. In the same way, Twain uses satire to ridicule hypocrites, and racist ideas in the South, in places like the Mississippi River town of St. Petersburg, where the story is set.
Another example of satire is when Huck promised to help Jim, an escaped slave, on his way. Although Huck promised that he would help Jim, Huck’s conscience told him that, “people would call...
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