Satirical Mouthpiece in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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Typically when you hear “19th century literature,” you think of the formal and monotonous, yet gramatically and contextually correct writing of authors such as Charles Dickens and Harriet Beecher Stowe; but one author stood out among them and his name was Mark Twain. Twain started a new trend of including new aspects of writing into his pieces such as voice, dialect, and satire. The one particular book written by Mark Twain that is known to be the beginning of American literature called The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, contains all three of these aspects. In the book, Twain uses the main character and narrator, Huck, to utilize his voice, dialect, and satire. Huck serves as a satirical mouthpiece for the author’s attitude by fulfilling his role as the naïve narrator.

There is a specific passage in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that accurately portrays the satire that Twain is trying to bestow upon the reader involving a character by the name of Emmeline Grangerford, a sentimental artist. Huck is inspecting the art of Emmeline and expressing his feelings about them in the text. If you read Huck’s explanations without examining the underlying meanings you will find that Huck is completely clueless as to the artists’ sentimental intentions. He evaluates one picture called “Shall I Never See Thee More Alas” by describing a woman “under a weeping willow” (Twain 119) in a graveyard, another picture with a woman “crying into a handkerchief” (Twain 119), and yet another with a crying woman about to jump off a bridge. All three of these illustrations are obvious clichés of sentimental art of the 19th century. Huck looks at the images and simply sees “nice pictures” (Twain 119), not realizing the intent of the artist, Emmeline. This is an excellent example of Huck’s role as the naïve narrator. His lack of understanding provides a completely different take on the art than Mark Twain actually feels.

Twain’s main intention of the passage is to poke fun at the...
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