“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” Essay
by Milena K
A conscience is that still small voice that people won't listen to. That's just the trouble with the world today. -Jiminy Cricket.
Its common for humans to shape their opinions and actions according to the people they're surrounded by. They tend to assimilate themselves rather than indulge in unique behavior. But Huckleberry Finn is naturally recalcitrant. Having grown up without reasonable guidelines he acts on impulses and his own judgment. This makes him quite hard to govern, as many women through out the novel discover. Yet it also instills in him a shrewd sense of subjectivity. “ The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain hails individual determination of morals in midst a society with twisted ethics, where what is sinful is simultaneously considered socially acceptable.
Along the Missouri river Huck's perception of the world matures through varied exposure to indecency. At the beginning of the novel Huck resists Widow Douglas' attempts to “civilize” him. To him the word means well-mannered, well dressed, stuffy, boring and educated. It also connotes confinement. This idea is particularly important in light of the last line of the book “Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before” (p.281) By this point Huck has had far more experience with “sivilized” people. He has seen society in all its racist, violent, deceptive and cowardice facets. In many of his “adventures” he encounters violence in a way that almost seems commonplace. Mr. Sherburn shooting a harmless fool in the middle of the day in front of his daughter is one example. The Duke and Dauphin being tarred and feather is another, along with the mortal family feud that breaks out between the Shepards and the Grangerfords. When people do wrong, they are not punished by officials. The legal system is virtually absent throughout the novel. Ruthless masses see it as their duty to punish criminals. But the murder of the Duke and the king is a harsh consequence for mere theft. The mass commits a far greater sin than the criminals themselves. Yet the mass's offense meets no opposition. Considering this, Jim is the most civilized, in the true sense of the word, of all the people Huck encounters. He doesn’t harm a soul throughout the novel, yet the “sivilized” folk go around killing one another. The fact that the one character that is considered below civilization, the one that is running away and there by initiates the whole story, is actually far more civilized than the society that brands him uncivilized is highly ironic. So by the end of the novel Huck’s resistance of “being sivilized” has less to do with his rambunctious spirit than with the disgust he feels for societies hypocritical, aggressive nature.
The Duke and Dauphin play a major part in exposing Huck to society’s less than admirable qualities. The most notable traits of the Duke and the King are the names they give themselves. Much a person would say that these are ironic names for them, since they are such low lives and far from being royalty. Yet Huck in a conversation with Jim equates their actions with those of Kings. “You couldn't tell them from the real kind (…) all kings are mostly rapscallions as fur as I can make out.” (p.148) He lists examples such as Louis XIV and Henry the Eighth who “used to marry a new wife everyday and chop off her head next morning.” (p.149) What Twain seems to be saying is that weather a person has money or a title or other peoples respect or even the word of God to back him up is irrelevant. An immoral action remains the same for everyone, even regardless of race. In Huck's logic though power automatically entails corruption. It is ironic that the duke is more tolerable than the king, the more respected you are by society, the more retched you truly are. Therefor the word “king” assumes a negative connotation, for example when Huck says...
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