Comparative Analysis Of The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn And The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn”. The quotation belongs to Ernest Hemingway and is intended to emphasis the importance of the Twain’s creativeness not only for American literature, but also for the whole world. By his The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain illustrated American society of the antebellum period. In the history of the Southern United States, the antebellum epoch is called the time from the late 18th century until the start of the American Civil War in 1861. The main peculiarities of this period were the political split of “the United States between abolitionists and pro-slavery supporters which strongly influenced American society both economically and socially”. Twain as a humorist used every possible means of the literary devices to caricature social plights, rules and persons’ mentality of that time. Seemingly, In American pre Civil War society actual themes were violence against the children, religion and slavery. Accordingly, author tried to depict the true picture of the existed society. In regard to the author himself, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, under the pseudonym Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) was born in Florida, Missouri. When he was four, Twain’s family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a port town of the Mississippi River. Twain spent his juvenile years in this town and later the place became the main inspiration for his writings including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Life on the Mississippi. The latter is autobiographical work and particularly expresses his real life spending on Missouri. Besides, the first two are also the description of the events (slavery for example) that were happening on that time and in that place. In terms of slavery, both books are very important. In particular, The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn. The work is belonged to literary movement Realism beginning with mid-nineteenth century and extending to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Literary realism effort to reveal common things as they are. Instead of using a romanticized presentation, Realist authors tries to depict everyday and hackneyed activities and experiences. Mark Twain is not an exception in this direction. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which was written in 1885 is the exact representation of Realism and besides, it can be assumed as a bridge between old American literature and new American literature. Old American literature, in another words, Romantic Era largely includes approximate period from 1800 to 1850, while new American literature, (modernism) has its origins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Huckleberry Finn is belonged to that transition period between Romanticism and Modernism, so it can be assumed as a bridge between these two literary current. Besides, this is the first literary work in America, that was fully deprived from the influence of English literature. In conclusion, can be said that when Hemingway said aforementioned quote about the Huckleberry Finn, he probably meant the new style of narration repleted with slang and cant, multitudinous stylistic devices using to portray real American character.

To analyse comparatively The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, lots of similarities and differences will be revealed. In case of similarities, first of all can be said that both works have autobiographical features, main characters (Tom and Huck) are children at the age of 12-13. They both are rebelious, disobeyed, adventurous and sufficiently smart characters, who take the field towards the society. Another connection between these two novel is that, the events set on the same place (St. Petersburg) and at the same time (1840’). While describing major character’s amazing adventures in both book author attempts to underline the themes such as slavery, violence, religion and generally, characteristics of antebellum society. Mark Twain is often mentioned as“a sharp social critic” by various analysts. Indeed, his satirical tone, miscellaneous with pure humor is sharp representation of existed social habits (in particular, slavery can be underlined as a major theme in Huck). While reading the books, reader realizes Twain’s painful attitude towards the slavery and his idea of the importance of freedom (Tom/Huck – freedom from faulty society). Another important topic is religion in books. Especially, Tom is against the religion and hates all religious displays, Huck also shares Tom’s ideas about this issue. Because, they see not real expression of faith, but bigotry. Both books encompass considerable moral themes, and are a great hints of social hypocrisy. In spite of numerous similarities, reader meets some kind of differences between The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. For example, if The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is centrally intended to children and teenagers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin is utterly adult book with more serious aforementioned themes. Besides, the two characters are differ from each other in terms of family life. If Tom is growing in the place, where aunt Polly takes care of him, wants good future and normal lifestyle for Tom, (accordingly, Tom’s protest arose against the aunt Polly/society), Huck is in absolutely different situation. He is the victim of his drunkard father’s violence. Nobody takes care of him (his protest is partially is connecting with this unfairness). With regard to protagonist, Tom is the protagonist in The adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck – in The adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As for antagonists in both novel it is society. Other major characters in Tom Sawyer is aunt Polly, his cousin Sid (antagonists as well) and his sweetheart Becky Thatcher. Whereas, the King and Duke are other main characters in Huckleberry Finn, who also can be assumed as antagonists. Besides, negro Jim holds very special place in the book. Exactly, as a result of communication with Jim, the greatest inward change happens in Huck’s personality (towards slavery, for example). So, because of the fact that Huck finally analyses that every person is a human and does not matter is it black or white and empathy arises inside him towards to Jim, Huck can be counted as a dynamic character, unlike to Tom. From his point of view the Jim’s rescuing is only childish disport. However, both of them are round characters, persons with many faults and virtues. In conclusion, can be said that both novel has lots of similarities and differences in terms of characters, themes and setting.

Another essential issue in the novels is characters’ internal or external conflicts, in addition to, similarities and differences in the plot. With regard to conflicts, serious clash exist between Huck and society. Huck is the disobeyed, non-conformist person, who does not adapt to accepted norms and rules, be it religion canons or other social principles. One more conflict is related to the Duke and King. Because, they are the image and the integral part of the society, not surprisingly Huck has external conflict with their hypocritical nature. Besides, he has internal conflict. This conflict associated with Negro Jim. When the time come to help Jim, at first Huck experiences bifurcations; he does not know whether is it right or not. Accordingly, his internal conflict is visible for the reader. In case of Tom, similar to Huck, his main conflict is connected with the society. Like Huck, he is not time-server and always has external conflict with the existing society (In terms of religion, good behavior at school or at home, etc.). Brutal Injun Joe and Sid represent the society and Tom’s rebel nature can not adapt to them. To analyse plot, the first passage is connected with the central conflict in The Tom Sawyer. Author uses such original technique for the beginning. (‘TOM!’ No answer.’TOM!’ No answer.’What’s gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!’ No answer.). Such kind of start might be used in order to give hints to readers, that this is a narrative about the “different”, mischievous boy. So, this first part can be considered as an inciting incident. Suspense is the part when Tom becomes a spectator of Injun Joe’s murder. Then comes climax when Huck hears that Injun Joe has a plan how to kill the Widow Douglas, and Tom accidentally meets Injun Joe when he and Becky are in the cave. Finally, when people discover dead Injun Joe in the cave is the resolution. As for Huckleberry Finn, when he goes to the island and meets negro Jim is inciting incident and it also can be considered as a suspense, but when Huck has to decide whether disclose Jim or not is the climax and when Huck together with Tom try to accomplish their plan (to free Jim from slavery) is resolution. A lot of themes can be identified in these two novels. However, the most important topics might be slavery, hypocrisy of humanity and freedom from faulty society. Besides, author emphasizes the childish joy and it seems to teach us that if human is the almighty ever, only in his/her childhood.

To conclude this paper with my personal attitude towards characters and novel itself, first of all should be said that Mark Twain is one of my favorite writer and his Huckleberry Finn is one of the most beloved book. I always used to inspire by Huck’s character, then when I was child and even now when I am already mature. Huck is still a symbol of freedom for me. Symbol of the bravery and courageous, who never does not betray his own principles, does not afraid of standing against the society. As for Tom, he provokes sympathy in me. However, not as much as Huck. For me Tom is the symbol of childish joy and prank. In regard with society, I think that all societies/communities are similar in its essence (all of them have their rules and canons), but differ by forms and means of expression. Restrictions exist even in 21th century and always will be. The idea is that must have our principles and if we do not like something around us will not give up and set against it, like Huck does. 


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