Mark Twain is on of the most revered American writers of the early 1880s. Twain wrote at a time when issues of slavery and other inhuman practices were at their peak. One of the most prolific works of Twain during the early times was the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a story recounting the adventures of an imaginary character, Huckleberry Finn during his travels across the American continent and his. Twain brought out several themes condemning the various evils ongoing in the early American society of the time. At a time when human civilization and the guidance of the rule of the law were negligible, Twain wrote to appeal for justice and shun the evil happenings that were prevalent in America at the time. The adventures taking place along the shores of river Mississippi, in the state of Illinois is among the most influential and multi- thematic works of twain that paved way for other writers who came afterwards to shun similar evils in the American society.
Twain employs a variety of styles to derive his point home making his arguments enjoyable yet authoritative concerning their address. Among the most prominent themes in this story, slavery comes out loudly given its prominence during this time. Despite being a serious abuse to human ethics and dignity, the vile was prominent in the region and only a few people recognized it so. Most people decided to draw benefits from such human exploitative activities and only a few people such as Twain came out courageously to shun it. Even though Twain uses much satire to shun the slavery as an evil and abuse to the human society, his points are loud and clear to critical analysts. In this paper, I will illustrate how Mark twain uses satire to convey his message on slavery as a revolving theme in his story Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Mark Twain has used satire in various instances to address various issues on slavery. It becomes somehow hard for the readers to determine the various underlying issues brought out in Twains arguments without disconnecting them from the satirical manner in which they have been addressed. In a society that claims religion as her basic foundations of operations, slavery, though a great violation to humanity and a breach to human freedom is highly practiced and upheld by a great majority. Twain satirizes this whole affair, making references to the widow, Douglas and her sister Watson who professes Christianity and claims to dwell in the love of the lord and charity yet holding a slave Jim. He wonders if this is an act of charity or an inhuman practice. One is left to wonder how, Miss Watson, a self proclaimed Christian adorer wants to sell out her slave to another master whom she knows gives harsher treatments to his slaves. Such an act of unkindness and inhuman treatment is totally unexpected from a Christian woman. It is hard, therefore, to establish the foundations of claims held by Miss Watson and Douglass’ over their Christian faith.
… she said the thing a body could get by praying for it was “spiritual gifts.” This was too many for me, but she told me what she meant—I must help other people, and do everything I could for other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think about myself. This was including Miss Watson, as I took it (Mark pp: 12)
It is unbelievable how a state of guided and ruled by the learned folk addresses the issues relating to slavery in the region, hoping that by keeping the slaves ignorant of their rights and poor academic standing; they would not escape from their masters. Concerning this, he satirizes the enactment of the ruling laws in 1847 which made it illegal to teach slaves how to read and write hoping that this will keep them loyal to the authorities ruling over them. Considering the manner in which Jim handles himself and his affairs, he seems highly elevated in terms of his reasoning and capability to handle various life matters. This is satirical as Twain displays the sharp contrasts in the two viewpoints relating to the very fact that human understanding is not only determined by their education levels. Besides, this is certain other factors that can make slaves such as Jim have apt reasoning capability compared to other people.
Huck, the narrator of the story (Ron) faithfully practices his Christian charity and belief as he learns of them from Douglas and Miss Watson by helping Jim escape. Instead of getting the good of his faithful assistance, Huck suffers under the fugitive laws which prohibit anyone from assisting a slave escape. He wonders how a good act of assistance would earn a citizen such punishment. To him all men are equal and are expected to live freely in the society. He sees slavery, therefore, as a big offence and so helps Jim, a friend and a slave to escape. However, the same laws that are supposed to protect his freedom hold him custody for his good work.
In conclusion, Twain’s story Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is graded as one of the pioneering works of the 18th century that paved way the oppositions on slavery. Noting that slavery is anti- human ethics and an abuse to human dignity, Twain uses much satire to relay his message on slavery. This aspect not only keeps the aesthesis in the story but also jogs the readers’ imaginations to comply with the literary world.
Mark, Twain, . Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Charles, L., Webster and Company, 1885.
Ron, Powers, . Mark Twain: A Life. New York: FreePress, 2005.