Mark Twain: Views on Freedom
According to Mark Twain in his book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a man could only be happy when he is free from the shackles of slavery as well as social expectations and bondage. And the only place he can escape both slavery and interference and gain freedom is in the arms of nature. It’s here on a raft, on the Mississippi river, that the two central characters of the book, Jim and Huckleberry Finn meet, as they both run away from their lack of freedom, but of different kinds. While Jim is running away from the shackles of a cruel political ideology that alienates him from any human rights and makes him a slave who can be bought and sold on the will of his owner. Huck has his daily freedoms denied to him by the well meaning but suffocating Mrs. Watson. Huckleberry Finn, the young hero and narrator behind the book, feels like a prisoner in Mrs. Watson’s house with her insistence that he conform to the expectations of society. These social expectations according to Mark Twain, is what takes away our freedom and joy in life. Huckleberry Finn Huck is also the prisoner of an alcoholic father who beats him and curses everyone, “Then the old man got to cussing and cussed everything and everybody he could think of, and then cussed them all over again to make sure he hadn't skipped any” (Ch 6) In other words, by virtue of being white, Huck’s father who was a rotten drunk was free to do and say whatever he liked. To escape the paradox Huck would seek refuge in nature and Tom’s company, “Then I slipped down to the ground and crawled in among the trees, and, sure enough, there was Tom Sawyer waiting for me.” (4) To Huck, Tom Sawyer is a symbol of freedom and adventure. He enjoys the time they spent freely expressing themselves. By contrast Jim, who is the first of a long line of runaway slaves, became a runaway to avoid being sold by his mistress to new owners in New Orleans. In refusing to give in to...
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