Essay on Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn

Essay on Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn

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Freedom is an important concept in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The two protagonists of this novel, Huck and Jim, are both searching for freedom in their escape down the river. Critic Julius Lester claims that the view of freedom in this novel is a puerile one of escape from responsibility and restraint. However, Mark Twain's notion of freedom in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not one of freedom from responsibility but of freedom to think independently and of freedom from oppression.
Throughout the novel, Huck is searching for freedom of thought to escape from a dogmatic society whose ideals and morals he has come into conflict with. One issue which Huck has with the society he lives in is the religion that is forced upon him. This is shown when he disregards the Biblical teachings of Moses when he is being taught by the widow , because he, “ don't take no stock in dead people” (2),. This shows that Huck is not interested in the ideas of the past and does not believe in following religious authority just because he is told to. Also, when Miss Watson tells him about Heaven and Hell, he, ”wishe[s] [he] was there (in Hell)” because he, “wanted … a change” (2). Huck's desire to go to Hell as opposed to Heaven shows that he wants to be free from the falsely moral view of the world espoused by the people forcing religion upon him. Another reason why Huck wants to leave the society he is in is the rampant hypocrisy he sees in it; he wants to be able to come up with his own ideals and follow them instead of blindly following what he is told. Huck observes the widow's moral hypocrisy when she tells him that smoking is “ a mean practice,” but then she goes on to take snuff, which Huck points out is alright to...


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... a free black man, while the black man he describes is a professor, who is clearly better educated, more intelligent, and more refined than Huck's father. This casting of an ignorant white man as the villain and a black man as his superior shows Twain's desire to break from the racism still rampant at the time he was writing the book. Twain's freedom was the freedom to think for oneself.
Critic Julius Lester's claim that the freedom in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a simplistic adolescent one of escape from duty is false. Twain's goal was to encourage free thought and to be free from blind obedience to the the ideas of the past, and to take responsibility for one's own beliefs. Freedom can be defined in many ways, but the freedom to think and challenge established views is what makes Twain's novel so compelling.


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Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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