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Essay/Term paper: Mark twain wishes to bring attention to man's often concealed shortcomings

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Huckleberry Finn

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Mark Twain Wishes to Bring Attention To Man's Often Concealed Shortcomings

Throughout the Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens) novel, The Adventures of
HuckleBerry Finn, a plain and striking point of view is expressed by the author.
His point of view is that of a cynic; he looks upon civilized man as a merciless,
cowardly, hypocritical savage, without want of change, nor ability to effect
such change. Thus, one of Mark Twain's main purposes in producing this work
seems clear: he wishes to bring to attention some of man's often concealed
shortcomings.

While the examples of Mark Twain's cynic commentaries on human nature can be
found in great frequency all through the novel, several examples seem to lend
themselves well to a discussion of this sarcastic view. In the beginning of the
novel, it would seem that both Huck Finn and Jim are trapped in some way and
wishing to escape. For Huck, it is the violence and tyranny of his drunken
father. Kept in a veritable prison, Huck wishes desperately to escape. Jim feels
the need to escape after hearing that his owner, Miss Watson, wishes to sell him
down the river-a change in owners that could only be for the worse. As they
escape separately and rejoin by chance at an island along the river, they find
themselves drawn to get as far as possible from their home. Their journey down
the river sets the stage for most of Mark Twain's comments about man and society.
It is when they stop off at various towns along the river that various human
character flaws always seem to come out. Examples of this would include the
happenings after the bringing on of the Duke and King. These two con artists
would execute the most preposterous of schemes to relieve unsuspecting
townspeople of their cash. The game of the King pretending to be a reformed
marauder-turned-missionary at the tent meeting showed that people are gullible
and often easily led, particularly when in groups and subjected to peer pressure.
The execution of the Royal Nonesuch showed another instance of people in society
being subject to manipulation. The fact that, after being taken by a poor show
they sent rave reviews of it to their friends to avoid admitting they had been
conned showed that people in groups are ever afraid of losing status, and will
do nearly anything to protect such. Both the King and the Duke, also, showed
such a ridiculous degree of corruptness that it is difficult to believe that all
humans aren't at least somewhat evil.

Another point made by the author is that of most men being basically cowards. A
good example of this was when Col. Sherburn shot the drunk Boggs and the
townsfolk came after Sherburn to lynch him. After Sherburn, one man with only a
shotgun, held off the immense mob and made them disperse, it was obvious that no
individual really had the courage to go through with the lynching. The idea
that people are basically savages, confined for the moment by society, is shown
in more than one instance, such as when the group was preparing to hang Huck and
the King over their plot to defraud the daughters, or, more obvious, in the war
between the Shephardsons and the Grangerfords.

The aspect of people being basically hypocrites is seen at the beginning when
Miss Watson displays a degree of hypocriticality on insisting that Huck follow
the Widow and become civilized, while at the same time deciding to sell Jim into
a hard life down the river.

A final point seems to be that Man is continually fleeing from something. At the
end, Jim and Huck found themselves at the end of their journey, neither having
anything left to run from as Huck's father was dead and Jim was a free man. It
would seem, then that Huck and Jim had run a thousand miles down the river and
ended up where they had started from.

From the above examples, one can see some of the author's point in producing
'Huck Finn.' It is apparent that Mark Twain wishes society to realize its
shortcomings and the limitations imposed by human nature. He realizes that
people will not change, but feels that they should be aware of who they are, of
what comes with this thing we call humanity. That is Mark twain's main purpose
in writing this novel.


 

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