Mark Twain Essays
Coming Of Age In “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” By Mark Twain
Dealing with an abusive father, vicious dogs, being chased by a crowd of angry southerners are among the many obstacles Huck Finn faces in his journey to personal salvation, but more explicitly, the saving of his friend Jim. Along this journey, Huck experiences his own personal development, turning from a young rascal in a southern town to a mature young man who is able to think for himself. Throughout Mark Twain’s novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the protagonist, Huck Finn undergoes a climactic moral evolution generated by his rejection of societal values and the friendships he forms along his journey.
Much of Huck’s moral development is seen through his use of lies. He begins the story as someone who condemns the use of lying, but openly does it himself. He strictly does it for his own benefit. An early example of this is seen in his conversations with Judith Loftus. He attempts to convince her he is a girl, hoping to gain some information on the town’s stance on his disappearance. He does this act strictly to help himself, not thinking about the sake of Jim, but only concerned of the possible consequences he could fall victim to. Huck’s relationship towards lying is changed when he encounters the robbers on the river. This event is the first example of Huck lying for someone other than himself. He sympathizes with these criminals, eventually realizing he must seek help for these robbers by the use of his lying. His thought process is displayed when Twain writes, “I begun to worry about the men… I begun to think how dreadful it was, even for murderers, to be in such a fix. I says to myself, there ain’t no telling but I might come to be murder myself, yet, and then how would I like it?”. Along from Huck’s applaudable example of sympathy, Huck uses empathy to help these criminals. He understands he must lie because no one else would go to these extreme lengths to help criminals. Huck understands that these are people, and although they have committed serious crimes, no human would deserve to potentially face the death that was staring them in the eye. This decision also brought about a sense of pride in Huck. He understood the nobility in these actions, knowing Widow Douglas would be proud of him. He recognizes that he is starting to become the person Widow Douglas, one of the few exemplars of good beliefs in Huck’s society, would want him to be. The final stage of Huck’s development is seen when he lies for Jim. Huck, like many times in the book, comes to a crossroads on whether or not to turn in Jim or not. He finally comes to a decision to lie to a pair of white males looking for slaves, a decision that could prove to be risky. When asked whether the person on the following raft was white or black, Huck, after much discernment, finally answers, “He’s white”. While this decision is not the first of Huck’s unselfish lies, it is truly the peak of it, although he does not even realize the positivity of his actions. He does not understand the nobility of his doings, making them so much more admirable. He sees no gain in this situation, knowing none of it provides immediate benefit for him. While lying isn’t morally correct, Huck demonstrates that using it for others can contribute to the goodness of a person.
As Huck’s story moves on, he learns he does not have to accept the beliefs of the adults in his life, but can rather create the ones he personally believes are right. This comes with his ability to discern what is wrong and what is right. He begins with an ability to question the beliefs of the people around him, but is not able to bring himself to go against these ideas and form his own until later in the novel. A specific example of this is seen in Huck’s encounter with the Granderford-Sheperdson feud. While the Grangerford’s are seen as fundamentally good people, because of how they were raised, a flaw is seen in their personal viewpoints. They see nothing wrong with this feud, brainwashed from birth that attempting to kill others for no specific reason is perfectly fine. While feud’s were not seen in all of society in the 1800’s, this example goes to display that Huck was able to see the fault in their beliefs. However, the largest example of Huck’s rejection of societal beliefs is in his journey to free Jim. Helping a slave both resulted in possible jail time and a hefty fine, according to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. While much of society believed freeing a slave was wrong, Huck was able to overcome these corrupted ideas, deciding for himself that the well-being of a person was far more important that any prejudistic laws. This idea was brought about by the positive relationship Huck has with Jim. Jim brings about this internal conflict inside Huck causing him, “to come to grips with the question of following society’s laws or following the dictates of his own conscience”. Huck in the end, chooses his conscience.Twain uses these examples to teach the reader never to succumb to the corruptness of their society by displaying that independent viewpoints should be valued more than the consensus of the people.
The friendship Huck forms with Jim develops him into someone who values friends over the values his society appreciated at the time. The personal relationship between Huck and Jim had its fair share of pranks, done all by Huck onto Jim. The three pranks performed increased in severity as they went on. Eventually, they reached a breaking point. Huck realizes his wrongdoings, eventually reaching a point of maturity where he was able to stop. However, the nobility of his actions rely in Huck’s acknowledgement of Jim as a person, one with feelings. He finally understands his actions hurt Jim. Unlike the people in his era, he recognizes Jim as an equal, not as an object or property. Additionally, the appreciation Jim has for the help Huck gave him help contribute to their friendship. Huck did not realize, or refused to acknowledge, the great deed he was doing Jim by helping to set him free. Huck eventually realizes his impact on Jim when he is told, “‘Dah you goes, de ole true Huck; de on’y white gentleman dat ever kep’ his promise to ole Jim.’” Huck is again reminded of his sacrifice to Jim, a sacrifice only a true friend would make. The quote marks an integral part of Huck’s internal conflict of whether to turn Jim in or not. He understands his society places a great deal of importance on runaway slaves. He understands that if caught, he could face persecution, both from the law and from those in his life. However, he comes to a realization that he cares more about helping his friend than succumbing to what society would want. The final example of the change in Huck’s attitude towards friendship is seen in the climax of the story. Huck has been taught that an alternative to turning Jim in is eternal damnation. His society has corrupted him into believing that he must ruin an innocent person’s life, just to be able to experience salvation. Huck, someone who rejects the values society forces upon him, decides his final decision when saying, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”. He decides to place his friendship with Jim over these corrupted ideals, not knowing he is doing the right thing. Huck overcomes the societal peer pressure to follow these values, becoming his own man. Huck proves that moral development is often influenced by the important people in life.
Throughout Twain’s novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck undergoes a significant moral development in which he, by the use of his dismissal of the ideas his society presents and his personal relationships, is able to become a better person. Huck, in his efforts to free Jim, deals with serious internal conflict, dramatizing his eventual bildungsroman. He encounters moments where it seems he will never change, making the final result so much more spectacular. Twain uses this development to teach the readers that, no matter how corrupted their society is, can develop into the person they want to be. If Huck, a person with little education and an awful past life can bloom into a man for others, why can’t everyone?
An Analysis of the War Between the American and Philippine as Depicted in Mark Twain’s Article
Mark Twain was the most prominent opponent of the Philippine-American War. In its annual report for 1910, the year he died, the Anti-Imperialist League noted that he “employed in the cause of Anti-Imperialism and in behalf of the Filipino those wonderful weapons of satire which were so absolutely at his command, and the members of the League were able to appreciate what is not yet justly understood: that, more than a brilliant humorist, he was a passionate and zealous reformer.” What was “not yet justly understood” in 1910 remains so today. Nearly eclipsed by his deserved but overwhelming reputation as a humorist, Mark Twain’s writings on the war are among his least known. His relationship with the Anti-Imperialist League has received even less attention.(1)
The Philippine-American War, the United States’ first protracted war in Asia, marked the beginning of what Henry Luce would later name the “American Century.” When it purchased the Philippines from Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War, the United States held only Manila and its suburbs. The Filipinos, having waged a successful revolution for independence, controlled the rest of the country. To become a major power in Asia, with a naval coaling station in the Philippines providing easier access to the seemingly unlimited commercial markets in China, the United States first had to defeat the Filipinos’ poorly armed but popular army and abolish their newly established republic. The war that accomplished this feat officially lasted from February 1899 to July 1902, but regional guerrilla warfare and sporadic rebellions continued well into the next decade. Known at the time as the “Philippine Insurrection,” this war lasted longer, involved more U.S. troops, cost more lives and had a more significant impact on the United States than the three-month Spanish-American War that preceded it.
The conquest of the Philippines was part of a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy. Central and South America had long been within its sphere of influence, but the annexation of the Philippines was the country’s first major step into Asia as a world power. Supported by the rapid development of an integrated commercial and military route from the eastern seaboard of the United States to its Asian possession, the archipelago was to be the logistical hub for U.S. commercial expansion in Asia. From 1898 to 1903 the United States formally annexed Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines and acquired the Panama Canal Zone to facilitate trade between the oceans. “Thus the old America passes away,” a jubilant contemporary historian observed, “behold a new America appears, and her face is toward the Pacific!”(2)
Supporters of imperialism hailed it as essential for economic expansion and justified it as “the white man’s burden” of extending civilization to peoples considered incapable of governing themselves. Senator Albert Beveridge balanced these themes with remarkable dexterity: “The Philippines are ours forever. . . . And just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. We will not repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our opportunity in the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee under God, of the civilization of the world.”(3)
Many others, however, viewed the creation of an empire as a threat to the country’s democratic and anticolonial political traditions. The opposition was organized by the Anti-Imperialist League, which was founded in Boston in November 1898 and soon had branches throughout the country. Its leaders ardently supported the Filipinos, but they consistently described Filipino goals as a secondary concern. Their first priority was to defend their own democratic republic from the new “un-American” policy of imperialism. Citing such documents as the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, they argued that imperialism was an adoption of the “government without representation” the country had fought two wars to end.
Although they came late in the debate, Mark Twain’s statements against the war made an important contribution to the anti-imperialist movement. His most influential article, “To the Person Sitting in Darkness,” was published shortly after William McKinley was reelected in a contest widely viewed as a “referendum on imperialism.” The essay sparked an intense controversy that revitalized the movement and restored some of the momentum it had lost following the election. The country’s leading anti-imperialist newspaper, the Springfield Republican (Mass.), editorialized that “Mark Twain has suddenly become the most influential anti-imperialist and the most dreaded critic of the sacrosanct person in the White House that the country contains.” His writings on the war are not only those of a great literary figure, they are those of a great anti-imperialist whose protest had a potent political impact.
Review of Morality in The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
The world changes on a daily basis, with many different aspects, including the people, the cultures, along with different opinions and values. As the years pass, we can see the significant changes that are happening, but sometimes forget to take note of the things that remain the same and the aspects that are consistent. One of these aspects that can be seen in the world today that will always remain is morality.
Morality is one thing that will always remain, regardless of how many years pass, due to the fact that whether a person’s morality is good or bad it is something is instilled in someone. Morality is a personal choice, but sometimes one’s morality can be swayed by the social influence of one’s peers and decisions can then be made based off another person’s viewpoints or their feelings. Social influence can be shown when, “They hanged the lady, and I threw a stone at her, although in my heart I was sorry for her; but all were throwing stones and each was watching his neighbor, and if I had not done as the others did it would have been noticed and spoken of.” (Twain). Twain was referring to the incident, where a woman was hung for being accused of being a witch and was being stoned at the stake & was implying that people may not necessarily always feel the need to follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing, but there are social pressures that are placed on people and that if we do not follow after what the majority is doing, we may be looked at in a different light and looked at as the minority and even in certain circumstances, something may happen to us for not following.
This social influence can still be seen in current day as well. Even though the consequences may not be as severe today, there are still certain instances that occur. You can see examples of the social influence that peers have on morality in things such as politics. While there will always be differences of opinions in matters like this, there will be people that will try to change one’s perception of how they view certain events and may try to get them to agree with the majority or even some instances, the minority group. For example, during this time of political events, there has been a recent conversation over separating immigrant families. Whether a person’s morals told them that it was right or wrong, people were still influenced. A majority of people believed that it wasn’t right, making the people who believed it was right the minority, meaning that people who believed it was not right may have tried to persuade people from the minority and vice versa. With situations like this, people will try to change morality by changing one’s perspective of a situation.
Another aspect of morality that can be called into conversation is a person’s ability to look at themselves as superior and put other people beneath them. Many times, as a group, there is a tendency to put people below us if they do not meet a certain criterion or are not living out a certain expectation. Twain makes the remark when Satan takes Theodor to the French village that, “The proprietors are rich, and very holy; but the wage they pay to these poor brothers and sisters of theirs is only enough to keep them from dropping dead with hunger.” By making this remark he is implying that as people, there is a tendency to treat people almost as if they are nothing and only trying to provide them with the bare minimum to make sure they are okay, instead of treating them fairly and on the same level who may be in a position that is better off than them. This can be seen as a morality issue, due to the fact that it should be a natural instinct to treat people fairly and equally, but instead people can be seen treating others in an inhumane way.
This issue can be seen in modern times as well. Specifically, in past couple of years, there has been a seemingly increase in treating people unfairly and inhumane. This demeanor towards people can be seen, because of differences in things such as difference of opinions on many different topics. If one’s morality is leaning more on seeing the good, it would be seen that someone may treat others kind and no better or less than them, but equal, even if there is a difference in opinions. When one’s morality may be focused on seeing more of the bad in things, they may look down on others and treat them as less and that’s when you can see the inhumane actions occur such as the living and work conditions described in the French village, “ The work-hours are fourteen per day, winter and summer—from six in the morning till eight at night—little children and all. And they walk to and from the pigsties which they inhabit—four miles each way, through mud and slush, rain, snow, sleet, and storm, daily, year in and year out. They get four hours of sleep. They kennel together, three families in a room, in unimaginable filth and stench; and disease comes, and they die off like flies. Have they committed a crime, these mangy things? No. What have they done, that they are punished so? Nothing at all, except getting themselves born into your foolish race.” (Twain). Showing that people will make themselves superior and others not, even though they have no control of the situations that they were born into and get treated in such ways regardless.
As it can be seen morality has remained one thing that is there throughout the years, but based on social influence and a person’s motive to make themselves look superior or not, can change the way morality is viewed. Though it might be said that morality can’t be changed due to peers or people don’t make themselves superior, it is seen that peers can change our decisions for fear of being shown as the minority in a group. It was also shown that morality can be swayed by how we view others compared to ourselves and based off of that we make decisions.
Mark Twain at Home: How Family Shaped Twain’s Fiction
In this book, Michael Kiskis offers an alternative interpretation of Mark Twain’s major fiction: not as realism, local color, or southwestern humor but as domestic novels, or more especially as satires of domestic novels. Whereas authors of domestic melodrama valorized the family and featured noble spouses and/ or parents, Twain repeatedly challenged that tradition by portraying characters guilty of domestic violence, sentimental foolishness, and even infidelity.
Each of the protagonists of Clemens’ major fictions— Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Jim, Tom Canty, Edward VI, Hank Morgan, Roxy, Valet de Chambre, and Tom Driscoll—is shaped by his or her domestic situation, and each, as a result of a broken family and the emotional constriction caused by that loss, suffers a lack of genuine attachment. The author identifies and explores their most basic similarities: the problem of home, the notion of filial relationship, the quest for comfort and family. In essence, “Tom Sawyer”, “The Prince and the Pauper”, and “Huckleberry Finn” tell one story—a story that follows a child through a maze of biological and social relationships in a quest for physical comfort and existential peace and calm.
The author notes the absent father in many of Clemens’ tales and points to the death of John Marshall Clemens, in 1847, as an emotional focal point in Clemens’ fiction. Clemens’ father was reserved and emotionally distant from his family, and that, combined with his early death, which plunged the family into an financial crisis, created in Sam an emptiness that became manifest in his fiction. The offspring of a loveless marriage, the child who became Mark Twain lived in a home over which the spectre of violence continually hovered.
Twain wrote so frequently about children forced to live on the margins, about children who, missing one or both parents, strive to make some life for themselves in the face of a hostile world. Clemens wrote fiction that demanded that readers consider the plight of his child characters and, therefore, the plight of children facing down an antagonistic world. As a father, Clemens could not help but wonder what the world would offer his daughters. Clemens’ social critique was energized with the hope that telling a story could influence readers to act for good and moral purpose.
Mark Twain: The Five Boons Of Life
Mark Twain’s, “The Five Boons of Life” is a very interesting short story in which life gifts are offered to a man, describing the effects each choice has on his life and where those choices led the man. I was intrigued by how often the fairy warned the man to choose wisely and the description of her reaction after the man chose a gift. I also found the results from each gift interesting. The man chose pleasure and ended up being disappointed and empty. The man then chose love, again being left with nothing after his wife died. After choosing fame, the man had years when he was praised, envied and hated and then was slandered, mocked and left with nothing. The gift of wealth had the opposite effect after a few years, landing him in poverty. When the fairy returned, she brought with her the four gifts of pleasure, love, fame and wealth but no longer had the fifth gift to offer, which she had expressed all along as the one with the most value. The gift had been given to a child who asked the fairy to choose the best gift for it. Now the man would have to remain in his state with nothing and no one to show for himself and the years he lived, until he eventually died. Death wasn’t an option or answer to his wishes.
“The Five Boons of Life” was written by Mark Twain during the Realism period. Realism coincided with the Romantic period. Realism, however, rejected idealism and focused on solving real life problems; focusing on real people and their everyday lives dealing with poverty, hunger, violence and other difficult topics. Other core issues in that time period included growth of an empire, industrialization and urbanization. Realism is often considered a revolutionary movement where ordinary people and simplistic views were represented, which were often products of everyday life experiences and senses. Charles Darwin and his theories on evolution and organic species helped fuel the shift in thinking from faith based to scientific proof. Mark Twain focused on rich vs poor, wealth vs poverty, love vs solidarity. Each gift the man in the short story was given had the adverse effect on him in the end. Each gift offered instant gratification and the feeling of power, joy, and excitement. And each gift left the man wanting more. During the period of Realism, authors such as Mark Twain, focused their writing on how real people were affected by the social, economic, technological and political changes that were rapidly effecting the world they knew at the time. Mark Twain was no stranger to the hard times of life. Early in his life he lost his father, had to leave school and start working. While he grew to love working on steamboats on the Mississippi, when the Civil War started, he found himself traveling west to attempt mining. All the while, writing about his experiences and his view of the world.
Mark Twain married, fathered four children, three of which died. He, his wife and only living daughter traveled and met many influential people of this time period. He needed to go on lecturing tours due to debts he had accrued. He was given honorary degrees from Ivy League colleges, invited to speak to the president of the USA and Congress. He worked with other authors and continued to grow in popularity. He knew the ups and downs of life, the losses and gains. Through it all he retained his sense of humor, also being known as “the voice of a spirited and diverse nation”. Twain remains a popular author with today’s readers because his work is on a human level. He speaks to ideas and feelings everyone can relate to at some point in their life. He writes about human issues such as death, slavery, rebuilding a life. The struggle between wealth and poverty, fame and being alone, pleasure and wasting of years of life are all things people can relate to today and some struggle with.
The information I gained from researching Mark Twain only validates the initial thoughts I had on “The Five Boons of Life”. Those living during the Realism period faced trials due to changes in social, economic, technology and politics. The focus from writers at this time was to portray people as they were, not glamorizing or belittling the issues at hand. “The Five Boons of Life” portrays the give and take of life. It shows man as wanting and desiring things we don’t have and once granted those desires ending up still feeling empty. This story also shows that man will disregard warnings and advice for what we think is best for our situation and that often we won’t stop to ask what others think is best for us. The fairy offered many warnings to the man about choosing wisely and had expressions of disapproval when the man chose incorrectly. The man was focused on himself and not the advice from the gift giver. Selfishness, desires to get ahead, be the best, have the best are still issues facing man today. People choose riches and power over simply living and making due with the day of life they were given. While Mark Twain may have written this short story hundreds of years ago, the core concepts still ring with truth for today’s society. If only they choose to listen.
The Use Of N-word: Controversy In “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn”
Throughout the centuries aggressions against minority groups and the condonation that goes with these hateful acts has been one of the biggest controversies being faced around the world, and Huck Finn is no exception. It’s not shocking to believe that 126 years since the American classic has been published that the novel is still a huge controversy. Since the day The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain hit the shelves it has caused tension between people of different beliefs and understandings of the racial correlation twain presents in the novel including the use of the word, nigger.
Since the novel is supposedly one of greatest pieces of American literature it must seem vital to have it be taught in schools. A report conducted in 1992 showed that 70 percent of all public school students, and 76 percent of all religious school students, studied the novel in school. And still today the book gets assigned but more often than it should it’s a modified version of the original text in order for students to feel ‘more comfortable’. By removing nigger from it the novel loses a certain quality to it; its wildness and edginess, and a chunk of the real message it is trying to convey. The strong language used in the novel unquestionably serves a purpose because it’s supposed to showcase Huck’s lifestyle, and realistically in Huck’s world, “nigger” wouldn’t be censored out. More recently than ever there has been a call to censor the novel for schools and to alter the text completely for people outside of schools. A publishing company in Alabama says that schools don’t have to change their reading list because they changed Huckleberry Finn. Their newly released edition removes the N-word and replaces it with “slave.” Randall Williams, co-owner and editor of NewSouth Books states “I think it says that race continues to be a volatile and divisive subject.” ‘’Slave is a condition. I mean, anybody can be a slave. And it’s nothing for anybody to be ashamed of. But ‘nigger’ has to do with shame. ‘Nigger’ has to do with calling somebody something. ‘Nigger’ was what made slavery possible”. Others argue something different though.
Author David Bradley who is a professor at the University of Oregon says that the key to understanding Huckleberry Finn is through Twain’s language, as the relationship between Huck and Jim grows. What needs to be understood is that The word “nigger” is not a hurtful word. It is how it is being used in context and who is saying it that makes it hurtful. This novel takes place before the civil war when it was socially acceptable to say nigger, and that’s the problem. People can’t escape from our modern day world and see this story from a different perspective. A white male according to history wouldn’t realistically replace nigger with a slave. When you censor out nigger, you lose the reality of that word replace it with ‘slave’. The language in the novel is the language that was used in this time period. We as a whole can’t deny the terrible past by pretending it didn’t exist.
Throughout the novel, Twain uses the N-word 219 times. To some people, the word gets in the way of the story’s message against slavery, but to others, Twain is simply capturing the way people talked back then; which is the direction most people believed he was going in. As an author, he has a responsibility to make an audience feel an arrange of emotions when reading his work, and that’s exactly what he does. He also had the responsibility to let go of some of his own personal bias to really commit to the story even though it is fiction. Twain grew up in a slave state and therefore witnessed it first hand, but personally did not believe in slavery, and didn’t own any when he was older. So even though Twain did not believe in slavery he still had characters in the novel who did believe in it, because he knew historically speaking, people in Huck’s world wouldn’t be against slavery even though personally Twain would want it that way. Twain was no doubt a brilliant man and he knew if a white southern male back then had the option to either say slave or nigger he would say, nigger.
Not only did Twain use this word choice for historical reasons he also picked it because he knew the effect it would have on the readers. Twain tries to embed the n-word in every chapter to really get that effect across to the readers like in chapter 14, “well he was right; he was almost right; he had an uncommon head for a nigger” (Twain, chapter 14). Historically Huck wouldn’t replace nigger with a slave. In the quote, Huck doesn’t say “nigger” to offend Jim, he says it because he doesn’t know any better; it was accepted by society and it was how he was raised. Eleventh-grader Joseph Jaurdio explains it perfectly, “If you replace that with the word slave, of course, people would be less bothered, but I think Twain wants people to be a little bit bothered,”. Twain’s word choice conveys a message and is in there for a reason. Although there is clear-cut evidence that goes towards keeping the “nigger” in the novel, some people still can’t seem to see where everyone else is coming from.
The Alabama school’s principal where they have censored “nigger” from the novel said that it was “challenging for some students, who felt the school was not being inclusive…we’ve gone from being challenged to being offended.” Which can be respected but at the same time what’s wrong with feeling challenged? Parents, teachers, and students are confusing being offended and being challenged. Not only does the book have “nigger” in it but it has a lot of misspelled words on purpose which can make it a challenging read, with challenging content in it besides the word choice. Some scenes like when Huck’s father is being abusive towards him, that could easily make people feel uncomfortable but nor offended. People blame the reason they’re uncomfortable on the language in the book because it’s easy to blame it. “I smiled because like I just kind of think that constant use (of) the N-word, and to me, it feels unnecessary…It reflects on African-American history back then. And like I said, it’s a history that nobody wants to relive,” the principal said. Although it’s understandable to see how the constant use of “nigger” in the novel can lose its effect after a while and then it’s just there for the fun of it, but that’s completely untrue. It is supposed to have an impact on the readers, and it clearly does have an impact or else there wouldn’t be a debate going on about it. Yes, the principal is right, it does represent African-American history back then, but it’s a history that can’t be rewritten or forgotten.
The fact that schools around the country are censoring Huck Finn is disrespectful towards all the history that is backing it up and it’s disrespecting the author. The word is there for a purpose: to represent the time period’s history and culture. Even though what is socially accepted is different today than back then doesn’t mean we ignore it, it means we learn to respect it.
Tom’s Change Of Mindset About Stealing In In The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer By Mark Twain
In this novel Mark Twain shows how this young boy named Tom acts as he progresses through childhood. He lives with an aunt named Aunt Polly who is a very strict person. When Tom does things that he should not do she punishes him. Even when he knows that he is wrong and should not be stealing he still does it anyway. He knows what not to do because they are also religious. They go to church almost every Sunday but Tom hates it and thinks that the sermons are boring. After a while adulthood starts to come in and he starts calming down and he does not do the things he used to do. He starts to realize different things and he starts maturing more into a different Tom. The different Tom is better because he obeys, he stopped stealing, he was not as lazy as he used to be so the different Tom was a better Tom. In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain shows the coming of age and how the typical American boy progressed through childhood.
In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom shows how some young kids like him are very rebellious and disobedient. In the beginning of the novel Tom is stealing jam out of the pantry when his Aunt Polly finds him. When Aunt Polly finds him before she can do anything he tricks her into turning the other way, and when she turns the other way he hops over the fence and runs before getting a punishment. In another incident Tom is asked questions by his Aunt Polly because she feels like he did not go to school that day, but little does she know that while she is asking him questions he is stealing sugar. His brother Sid sees him stealing sugar and tells on him but Tom is quick enough to leave the house before he gets a punishment once again. While he left the house he seen this boy on the streets so troublesome Tom decided to start arguing with this boy and then they start fighting over nothing. When he decided to go to his crush house and he got water poured on him he threw a rock at the window and broke it and snuck back in the house. Some children change their attitudes if they go to church or have a role model in their life. Tom goes to church and Sunday School but he thinks that is is very boring and really does not pay attention to what Mr. Walters is saying.
In the story Aunt Polly shows how she disciplines rebellious, disobedient kids like Tom. When he did bad things sometimes she would make him do house work or what she thought was a good punishment for him. In the beginning of the story Tom was stealing jam and she tried to beat him but he tricked her into not beating him. She tries to give him other types of punishment instead of beating him all the time. Tom was stealing sugar at the dinner table and left the house before he got a punishment so when he tried to sneak back in his Aunt Polly told him to whitewash the fence. When Sid tried to steal sugar Aunt Polly blamed it on Tom and beat him even when he did not do it. That really hurt Tom because he got blamed for something he did not even do. And she did not even apologize to him after she found out Sid did it. After this happens Tom feels very sad and wonders what she would do and say to him if he was to just die. Tom says, “How she would throw herself upon him, and how her tears would fall like rain, and her lips pray to God to give her back her boy and she would never, never abuse him any more”! After a while she started slacking up on how she disciplined him. Once he went on that pirate adventure with his friends and did not tell her and they thought they were dead she starts to realize that she should not have treated him the way she did. Aunt Polly says, “He warn’t bad, so to say only micheevous. Only just giddy, and harum scarum, you know. He warn’t any more responsible than a colt. He never meant any harm, and he was the best hearted boy that ever was”. When she found out about Tom’s trick she felt like it was cool but she also was disappointed because he did not tell her that it was just fun and games. Aunt Polly got angry because she was made foolish because Joe Harper had already told his mom about Tom’s trick. Even when Tom said he did not think they knew, Aunt Polly could not believe him because she can not trust him anymore even if she tried.
At the ending of the novel Tom begins to grow up. He is not the same boy as he was in the beginning of the novel. Even though he might still play a lot and have some childish ways some things he stopped doing for the better. He was not the same Tom that did not do his chores, or the one that stole things, or the one that was lazy he was a more mature Tom. The adult in Tom came out when he went back to Aunt Polly’s house and considered to leave her a note to tell her that he was okay even though he did not do that. Tom even stopped stealing because at first he always felt like he had to steal things. For example he had stole sugar from the dinner table and also jam from the pantry and always got caught. When he went on the pirate adventure with his friends they stole many different things. When Tom and his friends first met up they each had stolen supplies such as boiled ham, a few trifles, skillet, half cured leaf tobacco, and other supplies. They even stole a raft just so they could get to the journey they was destined to get to. They even pretended to be Indians and decided to smoke a pipe. Before they went to sleep they prayed and they got scared that lightning would come down and strike them because of all the bad things they are doing. When they prayed they promised to not steal as pirates ever again because they knew what they were doing was very wrong and that the bible does not command of that. This is the start of the reason why Tom stopped stealing because they promised not to steal as pirates. Once you get into a habit of doing something you continue to do the same thing over and over so if he did not steal for a long time most likely the outcome after the adventure was going to be him not stealing anymore. He started maturing as an adult and growing up when he witnessed the murder of Dr. Robinson. TOm got put into a situation that he really did not understand as a boy but he understands when he starts maturing. With all the lies he has ever told once he got into the mature stage everything changed he could not keep silent about the murder and he told the truth about everything. He did not think about himself anymore and he did what was right so when the Widow needed to be saved he goes and help save the Widow.
Tom really sets a good example for people like him that starts out pretty rough but starts seeing things different. Some kids are “bad” but all you need is something to turn your life around or somebody to come in your life and teach you certain things other people could not teach you. Aunt Polly could not teach Tom how to start being mature and act like an adult as he got older he had to get into certain situations to where he had to make adult decisions. Beatings are not always the answer if a kid does something wrong because then kids like Tom start to wonder how their guardian would feel if they was to die or run away. You should also take time and talk with your kids to see why they are acting the way they are and maybe that will stop bad behavior. When you start doing things over and over it is a habit so if you steal and you promise not to steal and you do not steal every day you most likely will not steal again if it is a habit. In the story it shows how Tom stole everything he could get his hands on if he wanted something he stole it. As time progressed it took that one situation such as the adventure they went on to change his mindset about stealing since he did not steal again. People always need second chances to prove themselves even if you feel like they do not need a second chance. They can always change and make you realize they are not the same person they used to be.
Transcendentalism In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain
In the book Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Twain exploits many societal issues in the nineteenth century to showcase the corrupt way of thinking and living in this time period. To get through this way of life, Huck needed to hold on to any type of sanity that he could which is when he realized nature could help him through his time of need. Twain uses many different symbols in his writing to get his point across, one of which is the use of nature. Nature is a key factor in Huck’s life by giving him an outlet and a safe haven to call home when he didn’t have one himself. Nature is an escape from reality for Huck because he believes “human beings can be awful cruel to one another”. Nature is more than a way to escape for Huck, it’s what has been there when no one else was and what has helped him through his loneliness. Twain uses the ideals of Emerson and Thoreau, who are both transcendentalists, heavily, which helps Huck get through his journey.
Without nature, the book Huckleberry Finn would not have been what it is known for today. Nature is what brought the characters together and furthered the plot of the book. Nature in Huckleberry Finn is a symbol of Huck’s new found independence from his father Pap and Jim’s key to Freedom from Jim’s master, Miss. Watson. While Huck goes through his journey with Jim, he realizes that nature is the key to his problems and he will soon learn to use what the earth is providing for him. The first part of the book where the plot thickens is when Huck “drops the canoe down the river under some willows that hung over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise”. The Mississippi River will be Huck’s best friend throughout the novel by providing safety for the kid. Without the River, Huck wouldn’t have been able to execute his elaborate plans and ultimately save Jim’s life.
The Mississippi River and the nature that Twain shows in his writing shed light on the contrast between the harsh reality of life in the nineteenth century and how Huck is living happily as a minimalist living alongside nature. Huck feels a certain connection to nature. As he awakes from a nap that he took in the woods, he is awakened by “the light sifting down through the leaves, and the freckled places swapped about a little, showing there was a little breeze up there. A couple of squirrels set on a limb and jabbered at him very friendly”. This shows just how calm and relaxed Huck feels with the animals that almost resemble his friends. With the absence of nature, Huck wouldn’t be near the person he is because of it.
The teachings and lessons in Huckleberry Finn closely resemble the teachings of transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau. Huck resembles their way of life by seeing the goodness in people and nature. Twain portrays Huck as someone who realizes that what society teaches you is not always right and that you have to learn through your own experiences to find what is truly pure. A turning point in the novel is when Huck goes against what society has taught him and “humbles himself to a n*gger” and afterward, he “warn’t ever sorry for it”. Another time where Huck goes against the societal norm of how to view African Americans, Huck realizes that Jim “cares just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n”. This is just two examples of how Huck uses transcendentalism by using his own beliefs and morals instead of societies.
Huck also understands the difference between what people tell you is the right thing to do and what his heart tells him is the right thing to do is. Huck feels the most alive when in nature and he expresses this multiple times in the novel, one example being how he says there’s “no home like a raft, after all… you feel mighty free and easy and comfortable’. When Huck is in his raft surrounded by nothing but the trees and water he feels the safest and secure, like someone would in their own home. Huck feels as if nature is his true home because he wants to remove himself from “societal norm” of how to live his life and break away from the world’s opinion and find his individual thoughts and reasoning, like Emerson and Thoreau.
The river, plants, animals and everything the earth provides for us, is what saved Huck and Jim from the murderous vultures called people in the nineteenth century. Nature was the problem and the solution in the novel, Huckleberry Finn. Nature showed that in life there are many ups and downs but in the end, everything happens for a reason. The storm represents the setbacks in life as Jim predicts how the sky “darkened up and begun to thunder and lightnen”, Huck tells Jim that he “wouldn’t want to be nowhere else but there” with him. This is when we really get to see Huck become his own person by breaking the stereotype of two different races which were being ingrained in the minds of the youth of being enemies. Without nature, Jim and Huck wouldn’t have been able to even pursue their journeys, but now we see something even bigger than Huck and Jim’s adventure: a friendship that will last forever.
A Research The Life Of Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens whose pen name is Mark Twain was born in 1835 Florida, Missouri. For the first 10 years of his life, he was very weak as he was born prematurely and he had six siblings making him seven. As he was not fit, he used to stay indoors with his mother and was mostly pampered. After some years, they moved to Hannibal Missouri because their family’s fortune started to diminish and they were falling into poverty. However, his father believed that his property in Tennessee might bring fortune to them. The town he grew, Hannibal, is known to be sometimes one of the most violent towns. In his childhood, he found many unsettling things happening in his town such as he found his corpse lying in his father’s office and his father was known to be as the “Justice of Peace”. One day he saw a man to be murdered in the street. His childhood was quite traumatic as he found a corpse in his father’s office, man being murdered, family slave to be brutally beaten, and watched a friend drown. However, this town was an enjoyable place and the outdoor activities were one of his favorite and they were even a part of his writing such as Glasscock’s Island and McDowell’s Clave. During summer he visited and stayed with his uncle who was living in Florida, Missouri. There he listened to the stories narrated by the slave Uncle Daniel.
One of the things that I found interesting while writing this essay is his youth which contains disturbing realities in Florida. His family believed that he has the ability to perceive future or distant event because one day he sleepwalked to his sister’s room and lifted up her cover’s edge which was assumed to be a sign of superstitious. Mark Twain worked at several odd jobs in town from a newspaper job to work for printing shops to writing.
The other thing that I found interesting is his scheme to travel in a steamboat to South America but this scheme was dropped as he wanted to take the apprenticeship to become the pilot of the steamboat and he loved that job. This is the period where he got his pen name from the senior pilot. After some years, he met the love of his life, Olivia, and got married and after that he published various novels on American literature such as The Gilded Age, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn’s autobiography which was one of the masterpieces made by by Mark Twain. Then he moved to Europe along with his family and published more novels such as A Trump Aboard and The Prince and the Pauper. Later in his life, he started to make bad investments which got him into huge debts and was declared bankruptcy in 1894. After that, a lot of tragedies occurred in his life and slowly his family started to get diseases and after some time they too died living him with his daughter Jean. But after some years she too died and left him in despair. He knew that he was also going to die soon so he wrote an autobiography.
Mark Twain is known to be one of the most inspiring American Novelists as he published books mainly on American Literature. The last thing that I found interesting is that in most of his novels we can see some parts are influenced by his childhood and youth experiences. At a very young age, he started to support his family and after some years he became one of the successful writers. Although we have known him about Realism in his novels, I would like to know more about this topic.
The Figurative Language In Two Views Of The Mississippi By Mark Twain
In the following essay I am going to analyze the figurative language used by Mark Twain in his “Two Views of the Mississippi”.
Mark Twain was many things in his life. A writer, a miner, a newspaper shop’s apprentice – but also a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi. After being trained to navigate the Mississippi river, it soon lost its charms, and its once beautiful features didn’t seem so captivating anymore. Twain no longer focused on the river’s wonders, but rather, its dangers, as he saw each wandering branch or “floating log” as a potential threat to his boat, its cargo, and its passengers.
In his writing, Twain brings to memory a scene of when he had witnessed a majestic sunset during his time as a fledgling steamboat pilot. Using imagery, he described the reflections of the sunlight, and the delicate waves on the water, going on to describe how after becoming a pilot, he would perceive the sunset as an indicator of incoming winds, and the ripples of the water as a dissolving sand bar. The river’s beauty was now reduced to obstacles he needed to overcome.
The main idea that Twain is trying to address in this excerpt is that learning is a matter of both loss and gain. Understanding how something functions also allows for better understanding on how you can manipulate it, or even how it can manipulate you. This new knowledge erases the mysticality of the thing before you knew exactly what it was. It’s no longer mysterious and intriguing, it’s technical and concise. It’s human instinct to place things we don’t understand in a shroud of magic. It’s fundamentally how most traditions and cultures were started. For example:
“Gee, this big rock is making loud and scary noises! Maybe we should toss a human sacrifice or two in there?”
Obviously, I address cultures who had yet to understand natural phenomena around them, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and had therefore chalked them up to something along the lines of “the gods are angry, lets appease them!”. What we now know today as natural disasters, others viewed as something far more mystical and astonishing.
Mark Twain starts off his piece with the description of the Mississippi river. Twain uses epithets to describe it, such as “graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it every passing moment with new marvels of coloring”. With the vivid imagery written in, the readers can bring to life the beauty of the Mississippi river, the abundance of epithets aiding in the interest of the piece. In this line, it seems as though Mark Twain is like any other casual observer of the scenery, unaffected by what he actually knows at the time- of all the potential dangers beneath the mesmerising landscape.
By the same stroke, Twain also uses simile to emphasize that the view of the Mississippi River is one that is particularly well-known to him, with the line, “Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet”. Twain’s use of the comparison of familiarity with the river to the alphabet is purposeful, as it leads the reader to the understanding that though he had memorized the landscape like the back of his hand, in the end it was only the surface that he had scratched with his comprehension of the river.
Shortly after this line, Twain uses repetition with, “But I had lost something, too. I had lost something…”. By emphasizing that he has lost something and repeating the phrase once again, Mark Twain makes it clear to the reader that what he has “lost” must have been of enough importance to warrant being repeated. In summation, his “loss” was that of the innocence of knowing only the beauty of the river, and not its ugliness. How strange it is that after just describing how vividly he had come to know the Mississippi, that he should then go on to say he knew very little of it, in truth.
Mark Twain then goes on to discuss the duplicitous nature of the river, which has two faces to it: the surface, and what’s beneath it. To signify this, he incorporates the abundant use of metaphors and imagery to indicate how the river changes, even personifying the river’s features with descriptions of its color (blood):
“A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water”.
The effective use of metaphors, imagery, and personification within these lines paints a vivid image in the reader’s mind of the splendor of the river from the average person’s point of view.
An interesting note can be made about the passage at the beginning of the second paragraph: “I drank it in, in a speechless rapture”. By using metaphor to describe his admiration of the river, Twain is also including a purposeful comparison to the act of drinking itself. Imagine someone drunk on their favorite kind of alcohol (or any alcohol, really). Being inebriated dulls the senses, and skews the vision of what’s really happening around you. By relating the intoxication of the river’s beauty to that of actual intoxication, Twain is bringing to the reader’s attention that not all is as it seems, and though the river’s splendor is certainly captivating, it is not the full picture. A floating log could wreck the boat that sails along it, the stream could drown one who falls into it, etc.
It can be argued that allegory is the most important figurative language used by Mark Twain in Two Views of the Mississippi because it is used to illustrate broader concepts based on his description of the Mississippi river. Firstly, he describes the river in great detail, emphasizing its power and beauty. This superficial view is something any passerby would notice. Instead, Mark Twain would like the readers to look beyond the surface, and guides them along to this understanding through the use of figurative devices such as metaphor, personification, and similes, as well as his own personal tale of how he, too, once saw the river for nothing more than its grandeur, but now knows better.
Towards the end of the piece, Twain compares the river’s duplicity and ambidextrousness to people- doctors, in specific. With the line:
“the lovely flush in a beauty’s cheek mean to a doctor but a ʺbreakʺ that ripples above some deadly disease”.
Mark Twain is essentially noting that what most people may view as beautiful, such as blush on a woman, may actually be something far more dangerous, such as a disease, something that can only be detected by those with the experience- who know to look out for it. A passenger on a steamboat sees the beautiful sunset, while the steamboat’s captain may see an incoming storm.
Then comes the barrage of rhetorical questions.
“Are not all her visible charms sown think with what are to him the signs and symbols of hidden decay? Does he ever see her beauty at all, or doesn’t he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And doesn’t he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade?”.
The last line in particular sticks out, as it brings to question, essentially: “is ignorance bliss?”. Would someone have been better off remaining oblivious to the dangers of the world, so that they would enjoy its pleasantries? Or does knowing the dangers provide a stronger sense of security, in that you know what you may need to face? The answer to a question like that is entirely based on one’s opinion, but seeking that answer for oneself is likely the type of thought process Twain was trying to stir up in his readers. To address questions that we may like to avoid, and answers we may like to keep to ourselves.
Two Views of the Mississippi by Mark Twain forces readers to come to grips with the reality of knowledge. It teaches us to think critically, to look beyond superficial appearances and into what’s under the surface for the truth. For Mark Twain, the river in this piece represents both itself, and life. A shimmering facade that often hides less pleasant things within it. He guides the readers to look beyond this surface and not only acknowledge the truth beneath it, but to accept it as well. Because if you ignore that floating log in the stream, you may just end up with a sinking steamboat.