Essay on The use of Satire in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Essay on The use of Satire in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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The use of Satire in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

In his novel the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published in 1884,
Mark Twain uses satire frequently as a medium to display his feelings
on a range of issues related to society at that time. Throughout the
book he ridicules many aspects of society, including the prevalent
views on slaves and religion, and their social structure. Even though
the novel was set fifty years before it was published, the themes
still held true for contemporary society. This led to the novel being
criticised widely as a result of it condemning the very society it was
presented to. Today however readers can see the message behind Mark
Twain’s satire much more clearly, as it does not mock us personally
but rather a society that we have evolved from and tend to deride
ourselves.

Mark Twain was deeply opposed to slavery, yet he does not openly
display his views in the novel. Instead he uses the subtlety of satire
to bring his message across. In a time where the life of a slave was
considered worthless, Twain used Jim to show us otherwise. Society
considered slaves as possessions with no value other than that of
money. However, as soon as Jim is free, he is rich. “I owns myself, en
I’s worth eight hund’d dollars.” (100). This shows us that even though
society considered the lives of slaves worthless, the monetary value
that they put on slaves, gave not only their lives value, but also
their freedom. Freedom brought more value to Jim’s life, monetary or
otherwise than he had ever possessed as a slave.

Twain also shows us that society’s views of black people as being
incapable of human emotion were wrong. Throughout the novel he
develops Jim’s emotions. The irony in society...


... middle of paper ...


...slid down a stanchion and traded his new coat for a jug of forty
rod”(73). This situation humiliates the law of that time, and shows
the reader how ineffectual and gullible it actually was.

Today we see the humour in Twain’s satirical portrayal of Nineteenth
Century society but at that time even this subtle mockery of their
culture angered a number of people greatly. Critics today feel that he
was not outspoken enough against the atrocities of that time, but if
he had been more outspoken, society might have completely rejected his
novel. Therefore satire was the perfect medium for Twain to present
his views to the world without upsetting the masses. Thanks to this,
we can today read about the wrongs of society at that time and
endeavour never to repeat them.

Works cited:

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. London, Penguin
books, 1884

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