Monday, October 28, 2019

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essay Example for Free

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Essay The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been labelled as a picaresque novel. A picaresque novel is an adventure story that involves an anti-hero or picaro who wanders around with no actual destination in mind. The picaresque novel has many key elements. It must contain an anti-hero who is usually described as an underling(subordinate) with no place in society, it is usually told in autobiographical form, and it is potentially endless, meaning that it has no tight plot, but could go on and on. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has moulded itself perfectly to all these essential elements of a picaresque novel. Huck Finn is undeniably the picaro, and the river is his method of travel, as well as the way in which he wanders around with no actual destination. This is due to the fact that the river is in control and not Huck. Furthermore, it is the picaresque style that has also aided in highlighting the escapades that Huck experiences through his travels as those crucial to the novel, but also crucial to such a character as Huckleberry Finn. Huck is the perfect example of a young boy with adventure on his mind, and thus the characterization of Huck as a picaro is done flawlessly. Additionally, as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn contains all the vital aspects of a picaresque novel and picaro hero, it is these crucial traits that mark it as one of Mark Twains most successful novels, and one of the world’s most famous adventure stories. One of the most important aspects of the picaresque novel is the fact that it must contain a picaro, otherwise known as the anti-hero of the novel. Huck is obviously the picaro in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A picaro is defined as, a low-born but clever individual who wanders into and out of various affairs of love, danger, and farcical intrigue. These involvements may take place at all social levels and typically present a humorous and wide-ranging satire of a given society (The Gale Group). Huck fits this definition perfectly. Huck isnt accepted by society and doesnt even want to be. He is most comfortable out on his own in the frontier. Furthermore, when the Widow Douglas takes him in and tries to provide him with a good life he doesnt want any part of it: â€Å"The Widow Douglas she took me for her son and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways, and so when I couldnt stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. † (194) Huck finds civilized life intolerable, but instead prefers to live the life of a free spirit, but he isnt able to do that when the Widow is trying to civilize him. The Widow wants to refine Hucks lifestyle to match hers, but Huck cant stand that type of life and resists it. Huck wants to keep his independence, and he believes that the frontier is the only place where he can do that. Therefore, Hucks unaccepted presence in society, and his unwillingness to fit in is one that proves his existence as a picaro in the picaresque novel. Another characteristic of the picaro is the fact that he is a wanderer, which means that he is the type of character who roams from place-to-place with no set destination in mind. Hucks wandering occurs within the form of his raft on the Mississippi river. The river is an important aspect of Hucks wandering because the river continuously changes course, and there is no way for Huck to direct the river and his raft. If Huck passes a place or location there is no way for him to turn the raft around, but instead he has to continue on down the river. An example of this is when Huck and Jim pass Cairo, which was the one specific destination they had in mind because its where Jim would have been free, It wouldnt do to take to the shore; we couldnt take the raft up the stream, of course. There warnt no way but to wait for dark and start back in the canoe and take the chances (314). In other words, the river basically has a life of its own, and therefore Huck and Jim have to abide by the river’s rules. Another important fact regarding the picaro as a wanderer is the notion that he will change as a result of his travels, the main character often grows intellectually and morally through his various encounters along the path of his journey (Bibliomania). Hucks character matures throughout the novel from that of a boy to one that can be seen as something closer to a man. Huck begins to have a conscience, which proves that he is beginning to mature because he begins to actually think about things, and care about them. Hucks maturation can be observed in the scene where he chooses to tell Mary Jane the truth about the two men posing as her uncles, I got to tell the truth, and you want to brace up, Miss Mary, because its a bad kind and going to be hard to take, but there aint no help for it (420). Hucks maturation is evident here because he cant stand to see Mary Jane and her sisters cheated of the money they deserve, and so happy because their uncles are back when in reality theyre only frauds. Hucks conscience continues to bother him until he tells Mary Jane the truth, and therefore it is apparent that Huck is growing as a result of his travels because his conscience begins to affect him, forcing him to show that he is a good and kind-hearted person. A picaro is often defined as someone who isnt very honest, or straightforward, but instead is something more of a liar. More often than not a picaro has been brought up by a dishonest and unloving family, and therefore has no traditional values. Hucks father was a drunkard, and treated Huck as if he owned him, instead of as a son. Furthermore, Hucks father never acted like a father figure to Huck at all, but instead was cruel and unreliable. Moreover, because of his upbringing Huck had no one to teach him any values, and thus he created his own value system, which was the opposite of the social norm. For example, Huck lied his way through his travels and adventures. His first major lie and the beginning of his adventure was staging his own murder, which enabled him to escape his father. In addition, whenever Huck and Jim met other people along their way some kind of lie always popped out of his mouth. To illustrate this point is the scene where Huck comes along two men in a boat, and Huck wants to surrender Jim, but a fib comes out instead, I wish you would, says I, because its pap thats there, and maybe youd help me tow the raft ashore where the light is. Hes sick-and so is mam and Mary Ann' (310). Huck doesnt even have to think about how to lie because it just happens without any real thought involved. Huck constantly changes his name in his lies. Hence, it is so natural for Huck to lie that it becomes difficult for him to keep track of the names he calls himself within his lies. His lies extend to the point of posing as a young girl to an old woman, but he mixes his names up and is caught in the lie: â€Å"Well, try to remember it, George. Dont forget and tell me its Elexander before you go, and then get out by saying its George Elexander when I catch you. And dont go about women in that old calico. You do a girl tolerable poor but you might fool men, maybe. † (262) Fortunately for Huck, the old woman is a kind-hearted one and lets him go on his way without any real questions. However, one of Hucks major lies occurs during his time with the Duke and the King. They pull a stunt where they charge people to watch them do a revival of a play, despite the fact that they barely know the play or are by no means actors. Consequently, they barely escape from the town on the third night with the money that they had  cheated the townspeople of. Thus, there were many instances where Huck lied and cheated his way through his various encounters and experiences, which ties him in perfectly with the typical picaro stereo-type. A picaresque novel is generally told in autobiographical form. Huck is the narrator within The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and thus is speaking from the first person point-of-view. This is largely associated with the fact that although Huck tells terrible lies and does some terrible things, it is impossible for the readers not to like Huck. Huck tells the story from his own point-of-view, which enables the readers to see things through Hucks eyes. Huck will explain why hes doing something, and because the readers get Hucks explanation and thoughts on it, it is easy to understand and accept it. Hence, it is easy for the readers to side with Huck. Furthermore, because Hucks thoughts are known the readers are able to see and accept that more often than not Huck actually has a good reason for the things he does. One important notion is the fact that Huck does have a good heart, and this is because Hucks adventure is largely due to keeping Jim safe and free. The readers are able to see Hucks thoughts on Jim and how he really does care about him and his freedom, and this makes Huck a good person with a large heart, despite the way hes acted at certain times. In addition to Huck being the narrator is the fact that the story is not only told through Hucks eyes, but also through his own language. Its obvious that Huck isnt the most educated person, but because the novel is told through Hucks own language it makes the novel all the more realistic to the readers. It is easier to see the story through Huck when the slang he uses is also incorporated into the novel. The fact that Hucks slang became a part of the story as well only served to further root Huck as a believable and more realistic character. Furthermore, Hucks accent became a part of the dialogue in order to define him as a unique character within the novel, one on which the novel was centred on. Hucks accent marks him as a true adventurer, and as someone who truly does prefer the frontier to civilization. For example, if Twain had invented Huck without an accent then his believability as an adventurer wouldnt have seemed quite so real. If Huck had traveled down the river void of his accent or slang then he would not have seemed the true loner and adventurer that Twain made him out to be, which is because he would have spoken in the same educated manner that any well-brought up boy would have. Thus, Hucks slang is as much a part of his lifestyle as it is him. Consequently, it is these combined facts of Hucks first-person narration, the readers ability to see everything hes thinking, and the slang that is incorporated into his dialogue that truly marks Huckleberry Finn as a adventurer, but more importantly as an autobiographical character in a picaresque novel. A story that has been defined as picaresque, such as The Adventures ofHuckleberry Finn can also be said to be potentially endless. A picaresque is often described as an adventure story, and thus if a novel is an adventure story then there really is no reason for the adventures to end. A picaresque is said to be potentially endless because it has no tight plot that has to end at a given time. Instead, the plot can change and continue on into infinity. Another literary term for a picaresque being potentially endless is called beads-on-a-string. It is like a yarn, and there is no exact moment when the story starts to wind down and close, but instead there is always an opportunity to keep the story going. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the perfect example of this. The entire story is centred on Huck and Jims adventures down the river. Huck is running away from his father, and Jim is running away from the possibility of being sold down the river because hes black, and therefore a slave. Huck and Jims adventures do eventually come to an end, but only because Mark Twain decides to end it, not because it has to end. There is no tight plot structure, such as a need for a climax and falling action because these could easily be taken out allowing Huck to continue telling his story, and the reader would never be any the wiser. Furthermore, there is no exact spot in the story where the reader thinks that the story should begin to wind down, and this is because it is a young boys adventure story. Hucks characterization only works because of the age his character represents. Huck represents eternal boyhood, and thus his adventures can also be seen as eternal. Therefore, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a story that can be potentially endless due to the fact that it is a young boy telling the story who experiences a life of adventures, and there is no reason why those adventures should have to end at any specific time. A picaresque story often involves a picaro that has some kind of sidekick along with him. In the case of Huckleberry Finn, Jim is his sidekick. The sidekick is someone who is a part of the adventure, but isnt seen as the main character, and thus more often than not the readers dont know the sidekicks views or thoughts, or what is known is very limited. Jim is Hucks sidekick, and although Hucks own adventure actually began because he was running away from his father, Jim is the reason that the adventure took the path it did. Jim didnt want to be sold to a slave buyer so instead of taking the chance of being sold he ran away, which is how he came to be Hucks sidekick. They both ran away from different things, and accidentally, but fortunately found each other, Pretty soon he gapped and stretched himself and hove off the blanket-and it was Miss Watsons Jim! I bet I was glad to see him (239). Huck wanted to keep Jim safe and so they decided to go to Cairo where Jim would be free from slavery, en I hear ole missus tell de widder she gwyne to sell me down to Orleans, but she didn want to, but she could git eight hundd dollars for me, en it uz sick a big stack o money she couldn resis' (242). Jim became Hucks sidekick early on in the adventure, and thus the real adventure only began once Jim had become a part of it. However, although it is Hucks adventure, and Jim is Hucks sidekick, the actual adventure itself is about keeping Jim safe and free. Furthermore, both Huck and Jim are running away because they want freedom. Huck wants to be free from his father, and Jim wants to be free from slavery, but by the end of the novel the irony is that Hucks father is dead, and the Widow has set Jim free within her will. Thus, it is Jim that further proves the sidekick mentality within a picaresque novel, and within The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn contains all the elements that any picaresque novel should. Huck Finn is the picaro and alongside him is his sidekick Jim. The adventures that these two encounter along their journey is pure proof of what elements a picaresque novel should include, from lying and cheating to wanderers along a river, to the changes that occur as a result of these adventures. Huck has all the characteristics that a typical picaro or anti-hero should have. Hes dishonest, prefers the frontier to civilization, and hes the narrator of the novel making it in autobiographical form. Therefore, all the aspects within TheAdventures of Huckleberry Finn cement it together to further root it as a picaresque novel with a unique and yet solid picaro as the main character.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.