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Hypocrisy And Satire In The Novel Huckleberry Finn

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“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect,” MArk Twain said himself. The majority side in most cases refers to the social norm, and Twain sees society as no power of any sort. This is clearly displayed in the classic novel of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The novel uses satire and hypocrisy to mock different aspects of society. Twain touches upon the subjects of bad and “good” influences, racial disputes, and romanticism. The novel Huckleberry Finn skillfully uses hypocrisy and satire to illustrate the complications within our culture.

Twain satirizes the effort of people to provide care for others who are strangers and of little character when people from their own neighborhoods and family are often neglected. An example of this from the novel is when Jim and Huck escaped the wrecked steamboat. After the boys were three of four hundred yards downstream huck began to worry about the thieves that were on the boat (Twain 85). Huck immediately felt an obligation to help save the thieves on the wrecked boat. In order to convince the watch man to rescue the thieves he faked a story about how his family was stuck on the boat. Once that was done huck felt good about his doings because he judged the widow would be proud of him for helping these rapscallions, because rapscallions and deadbeats is the kind the widow and good people take the most interest in (Twain 89). On the other hand, there was one deadbeat huck didn’t find interest in helping. This was his dad, Pap. Huckleberry understood his dad’s intentions and never provided any guidance to help him. Pap was sick and never wanted the better for huck. For example he depreciates Huck for having learned to read; he orders Huck to, ‘stop putting on frills’ and trying to be better than him (Twain 23). This of course doesn’t dicurage huck but rather provokes him. Thus showing that Huck would rather help some rapscallion than his own father.

While on the subject of Pap Finn, he is one of the biggest examples of hypocrisy in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He is an abusive, racist, drunk old man, with no decency (Kallin 3). He was taken into care by the judge, in order to, “make a man of him.” The judge dressed him up and fed him. Pap began to cry because of all the nice things the judge had done for him. He talked about how, “he’d been a fool, and fooled away his life; but now he was going to turn over a new leaf and be a man nobody wouldn’t be ashamed of” (Twain 26). Of course the judge didn’t look down on him and after some more tears, he tucked Pap into a spare room. Sometime in the night Pap had escaped his room and traded his new coat for a jug of forty-rod, and eventually made his way back to his room. Obviously when the judge found out he was disappointed. This goes to show that everything Pap said about being a better man was a lie. He was hypocritical in using his “better life,” just to fuel his drunken, deadbeat life.

Mark twain uses satire in order to mock the hypocrisy of the “good adults” with whom huck comes in contact with. For instance, when Huck encounters the feuding family of the Sheparson’s. The family that break their feuds to attend church on sunday, but only with their guns. Huck says, “they all talked it [the sermon] over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith” (Twain 129). Twain is clearly trying to point out there is some inconsistency within the Shepherdson family and their morals. How could they be a murderous feuding family yet attend church every sunday have have a strong faith. Another example of a “good adult” presenting hypocrisy is the Widow. A quote from chapter one shows the widow telling huck of the, “mean practice of smoking”, but Huck quickly sees that she is applying a double standard. “It is perfectly acceptable for her to use snuff, but only because she done it herself” (Kallin 2). This only shows inconsistency in the widows preaching. Twain use of hypocrisy is trying to prove that even the “good adults” can be reckless and inconsistent.

Racial hypocrisy is exceptionally obvious to the reader throughout the novel. In chapter 26 when huck is eavesdropping on the Duke and the King to find the location of the money; the two show a certain amount of racism in their lack of trust toward colored people; they believe that the black servants working in that household would not be able to restrain themselves from stealing the money when they stumble across it. Therefore they decided to hide the money somewhere else. This part of the story is extremely ironic, as the Duke and the King are the thieves themselves. Another time racial hypocrisy was exposed in the book was In Chapter 6. Huck’s father begins another of his drunken rants, this time “raving about the inferiority of a black college professor before proceeding with a murder attempt on Huck” (Kallin 3). The supposed “superior” white man was completely drunk, and moments later would be seen nearly killing his own son. Despite the fact the “inferior” black man was an intelligent and successful college professor. The expectation for his race was low. He was “often accused of and associated with immoral actions” (Kallin 3). Racism is a common theme throughout the novel and is used in hypocritical examples meant to make the reader more aware.

Mark Twain uses satire to criticize the romantic movement. Tom is of great use to Twain’s idea of romantic satire. Tom wanted to live out all the exciting moments in his romantic styled books. This lead him to starting a gang that is reckless everyday but Sunday, because that is the day they attend church. He also extended the amount of time for Jim’s escape, so he could live out his daring plan, knowing jim was freed under the provisions of Miss Watson’s will. He also mock the romanticism movement with the choice of the steam boat name: The Walter Scott. Twain uses this this to imply that Walter’s ideals on romanticism are wrecked just as the boat is, because this time was the, “general and controversial, shift in the second half of the nineteenth century from romanticism, with Sir Walter Scott as the dominant influence on the novel early in the century, to realism” (Kiernan).

Nevertheless, Twain was very smart in his choices of hypocrisy and satire. He used them valuebly throughout the novel to enlighten us. Between bad and “good” influences, racial disputes, and wrecked romanticism; each and every conflict within the story is used to illustrate a complication within our culture. Twain doesn’t hesitate to expresses his opinions throughout the stories, but only in subtle ways. Hence, the more willing you are to reflect on the book the easier the real messages begin to manifest.

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