In the early 1880s, Mark Twain has published several works that were later largely used in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Baker 363). In the summer of 1883, he writes a new version of Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven (Baker 363). However, the piece does not satisfy him, so the writer begins to actively and quite successfully work on the manuscript of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – the odyssey of the main character, who floats down the Mississippi on a raft with a black slave called Jim (Baker 363). This book is not only a true chronicle of the Life of the American South and South West before the civil war but also a passionate protest against the South’s ideology of sustainable slavery and its apartheid policy on black people (Rampersad 219). The author uses the book as the means for sharing his thoughts, ideas, and worries about the unpromising future of those who give up and do not try to defend their point of view and their liberty. Being a biography of young boys who strive for the freedom to such an extent that they are not afraid to face any evils of the surrounding world, a book teaches the reader to stand tall and defend their rights regardless of any obstacles.
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Ernest Hemingway considers Mark Twain’s main piece The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the best book that gives the beginning to all American literature. In particular, he refers to the broadest aspect of the work’s influence: its democracy and humanity, its universality, and a new language for literature, which is simple and as close as possible to the spoken language. The world of the writers’ works, in fact, is the one from which he comes himself, is not the world of traditional culture and conventional moral norms, which have initially imputed literary youth of 1890-1900’s (Lester 201). It was a world of farmers and migrant workers, small traders and frustrated priests, beggars, poor artists, and prostitutes. Due to his talent, all of it has become a property of American literature of the XX century.
In detail, the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is adjacent to The Adventures of Tom Sawyerwhile it presents the same characters and time of action. Nevertheless, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn reveals a more mature position of the author, broader covers all aspects of human experience, and has a deeper sense of synthesis. Moreover, the writer’s purely artistic evolution is as well evident. Twain’s light, sharp and sensitive to the nuances of dialect style writing, already fully formed in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as one of the best in the American literature, now achieves a new level.
Huckleberry Finn is the son of the local drunk, who does not care about his son. As a result, Huck is not obliged to go to school while the father left this choice to the boy. Hypocrisy is alien to the boy is, whereas all the conventions of civilized life are just unbearable (Stoneley 5), as he does not wash his clothes, he does not wear clean things, he swears in an odd manner However, the most important value for Huck is to be free, always and completely, with his independence, he has everything he needs in his life. Huck is certainly attracted by interesting games, invented by Tom, but he feels at ease without them, and that makes him leave his home and indulge in a perilous journey for freedom. Although Douglas’s widow, in gratitude for saving her from Indian Joe’s vengeance, shelters Huck, unfortunate and unaccustomed to civilized life, he disappears three weeks later, staging his own death. Hence, the ability to think about others makes the Huck’s image especially attractive, and it is likely to be a reason why Mark Twain regards him a hero of XX century, the one that he believes to have no racial prejudice, no poverty, and no injustice (Doyno 88).
In this writing, the writer has returned to his favorite and repeatedly proven form of storytelling and first-person narration. Therefore, the protagonist-narrator is not Tom, a boy from a bourgeois family, but Huck, a homeless tramp, a child of the people. Such author’s change procures a double effect. First, a masterfully reproduced, strong and colorful, true vernacular language of the book pictures a special plastic expression of American life Moreover, it gives the impression of talking without a mediator, as if America speaks with its own voice about itself. Second, it gives a possibility to fully and deeply reveal the character of the hero, only briefly outlined in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and the formation of his personality.
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All in all, Huck’s mind is free from romantic clich?s, and the character reflects the real world he experiences every day. He has no obvious ostentatious virtues, though he possesses all the essential qualities: a solid, faithful heart, full with sympathy to the humiliated and rejecting any brazen force. Huck possesses a sense of inner independence, forcing him to escape from the pleasure and comfort offered to by Douglas’s to a terrible world. In its essence, his devotion to freedom is represented by a rejection of hypocrisy, philistine prosperity, and institutionalized lies.
In comparison with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the character of Huck acquires a new, significant quality, a civil courage (Doyno 76). From the first chapters, Twain makes Huck an active participant of social conflicts by shaping him as to protect and conceal others. Moreover, when saving Jim from the slavery, he risks losing his own freedom. Although, Twain emphasizes that the need for Jim’s struggle is as inherent in Huck as the hatred of everything that hampers him (Williams 229). Despite the fact that Huck’s struggle for social justice is not fully realized, it gives his rebelliousness a much deeper social sense than in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The character of Huck is presented in the persuasively motivated progress. Huck was raised in the South, where slavery puts its stamp on the mindset of any person. It takes him a long time and a lot of efforts to wade through the thicket of slave bias until finally the southerner in him is conquered, and Huck decides to stay true to Jim. Hence, Twain never separates the protagonist from the environment that nurtured him. At the same time, the author shows him in a constant state of struggle against prejudices inherent in the environment. All in all, such dialectical contradictions underline the image as particularly lively and dynamic, and give it a psychological authenticity.
It is symptomatic that in the novel that Huck, a pariah of society, stands in the eyes of others still on a higher step of the social ladder than a black person (Rampersad 221). Nevertheless, just as Huck superiors Tom in courage and spiritual qualities, Jim excels Huck in fidelity and natural bravery (Williams 235). Notably, in 1880-s, the depiction of a black person as the noblest character in the novel or of a picture of beneficial friendship between a white and a black man, would take a great courage and boldness (Rampersad 222). No less bravery is shown in Twain as an artist, who defiantly violates the generally accepted norms of the literary language for the sake of the truth of life. A stormy debate that unfolds around the novel as soon as it is published presents obvious evidence how innovative the work is. Adherents of belles-lettres, requiring a perfectly smooth style, entirely virtuous hero and certainly good manners, denounce the book as “indecent, vulgar and coarse” (Twain et al. 443). In Concord (Massachusetts), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is removed from the city libraries as unsuitable (Williams 235), whereas realists perceive the novel as an extremely innovative and highly artistic product. For instance, Joel C. Harris defines the essence of Mark Twain’s work succinctly and pointedly: “This is – life” (Williams 236).
In the book, the author leaves behind his usual feature of style, composite superficiality, which is characteristic to the Twain-reporter. Almost all his books have a free composition close to associative thinking which his friend Howells advises to avoid (Twain et al. 376). In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the lack of dignity appears to be its significant advantage. It seems to fit the author’s intentions in an exclusive compliance: free novel composition зкщмшвуі an utterly important image of a great river, which unfolds the colorful pictures of life decorated with humor, fiction, romance, and a true tragedy. Thus, the image of the overflowing Mississippi River does not only unite the action, but, in contrast, emphasizes the meanness and meaninglessness of human passions and ambitions (Donoghue 224). The pictures replace one another while the river continues to roll its waters slowly through the boundless expanses of America. In addition, the river defines the Huck’s state of mind, as it takes away his anxiety, gives him peace and wisdom. Its image embodies the freedom, which is the ultimate goal of the novel’s heroes, that gives them their desire of eternal, timeless significance (Donoghue 226).
Jim and Huck’s escape from slave states and their journey on a raft become the inner force that drives the plot of the novel. Such dynamics of action allows Twain broaden the scope of the narrative and deploy a broader picture of American reality. Behind the courage and strength the author hides the fear, not only superstitious fear of impressionable teenager or a black man, but a quite real and justified anxiety of the endless confusing chain of robberies, beatings, drownings, and murders (Rampersad 225), where every turn of the road or bend of the river can lead to the violent death. The author throws the protagonists in this cruel world, where, relying solely on loyalty to each other, they try not to get hit by white and adult supremacy. Overall, the story reveals much darker sides of life, than the occasional dramas in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: indifference and sadism of poor whites, the cowardice of the crowd, merchant’s frauds, and senseless hatred among wealthy landowners (Williams 235).
“The friendship between white and black Americans considered rogues of the decent society because of their love of freedom” is the opening of Cooper, innovatively designed by Mark Twain (Rampersad 219). A different age, an originally forced union, and a complete (albeit imaginary) dependency on one another make Huck and Jim a separate correlative archetype of American literature. The story of slavery and freedom, death and rebirth, told by Twain has not only specific but also symbolic meaning. Accordingly, the novel is not only about the legalized slavery of black Americans, but also about the lack of freedom of the white man, suppressed by social conventions and surrounding prejudices. Moreover, it is the story about the revival of the hero after his apparent death, and the actual birth of his personality, which gained a new level of emotional breadth. Huck and Jim’s desire for freedom is the eternal human impulse to spiritual liberation, as it is a river that represents the state of mind, not the state of North or South (Williams 236).
Analyzing the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, American literary critic Wendell Barrett writes that the book, despite containing some extravagant items of burlesque, is the most significant work among those that appeared on the American continent (Stoneley 14). The Mississippi Odyssey is one of the most poetic books written in English, that is also fully imbued with true realism. Regardless of the fact that the novel at first glance seems medley and the composition appears rough, Bernard De Voto still admits that it does not justify the attribution of the work to the picaresque novel genre (Twain et al. 429). Such assumption seems absolutely injustified while the novel compels serious self-analysis, reflection, and grounds on the ethical and moral roots. Mark Twain artistically recreates a realistic picture of life in the valley of the Mississippi, expand the panorama of the historical era through the diversely typed characters. As soon as the raft reaches the river, the reader observes dozens of villages that doze away from the border, patriarchal farms, and Southern planters’ mansions with prevailing vendetta. In front of Huck’s, and, therefore, readers’ eyes there appears a mysterious, sunken ship on the board of which was committed a murder.
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the image of Huck reveals the poetic principle (Stoneley 6), which presupposes the realization that art should actively intervene in life and even modify it for the benefit of happiness and humanity. The writer not only looks at the world through the eyes of his characters, but also repeatedly makes them mouthpieces of his thoughts. The reader even may hear the voice of the author in the judgments, that one that belongs to the literary mask, Mark Twain. Indeed, at first glance, Huck is a typical boy, born by the American southwest: his appearance, sharp, and active mind, even the language, being rich in dialect, are all specific features of a historically composed character. Additionally, Huck’s thoughts about life conflicts, at the center of which he eventually finds himself, quite match the views and beliefs of the writer.
To conclude, the works of Mark Twain do not burden with morality that, however, leaves its overprint at the end of each work, as they are initially moral. Their lesson is to live a life full of pleasure and ease, free from prejudice and problems that people impose on others. Moreover, the author supports throughout the whole novel the idea that slavery of any kind does not allow a person to develop and grow, but burdens the mind and the opportunities. As a result, every person has to fight for their freedom, even if the struggle is not a simple one, as the boys’ adventurous and dangerous journey across the river. Mark Twain clearly and convincingly shows the lives of American boys who had to deal not only with their, childish problems, but also with cruelty and injustice of the adult world. The book is considered an autobiography of an ordinary child who faces the cruelty, injustice, and violence of the adult world and struggles for personal liberty. Moreover, the author uses the piece as the means for sharing his thoughts, ideas, and worries about the unpromising future of those who give up and do not try to defend their point of view and their freedom.