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Why Huckleberry Finn Crossed the River

Uploaded by morpheus2005 on Feb 06, 2004

Why Huckleberry Finn Crossed the River

During the latter part of the 19th century, the American public was still engrossed with the seemingly innocent ideals of romantic novels. Particularly in the South, where chivalrous acts were still commonplace, children and adults alike enjoyed reading the exciting exploits of such stories as Ivanhoe by Walter Scott. Despite its popularity, romantic literature was deemed worthless by many authors like Mark Twain who decided that it was not only useless in modern society, but also harmful and dangerous. Consequently, Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in a very realistic fashion with even the dialogue between characters matching the intended historical period. However, despite his realist biases, Twain allows the novel to develop romantic aspects by exposing the natural and uncivilized tendencies of the main character, Huckleberry Finn, in order to eventually show the folly in exclusively adhering to a romantic style of writing and living.

Immediately introducing the reader to the most natural and unaffected persona in the entire novel, Twain establishes his intent of trying to present a reality that is predominantly realistic but unavoidably romantic. After cleverly escaping from his abusive father and the choking etiquette of the Widow Douglas, Huckleberry Finn, the young protagonist in the novel, spends the morning relaxing “in the grass and the cool shade thinking about things, and feeling rested and ruther comfortable and satisfied” with his decision to run away (36). Entirely intentional, Twain juxtaposes Huck’s dissatisfaction with society with his intrinsic connection to a cool summer morning. Huck’s romanticized return to nature is almost like a biblical migration to the Promised Land, with society representing Egypt and Jackson Island the land of milk and honey. Interestingly enough, it almost seems as though Huck, in declaring that he does not “want to be nowhere else” than the island, has reversed the detrimental aging process that threatens to “sivilize” him, erasing all the innocence and goodness that naturally comes with childhood (49,1). His vehement desire to feel “lazy and comfortable” and “very well satisfied” combined with his longing for the past and preference for the uncivilized perfectly parallels that of the Romantic Movement (36,37).

Furthering his use of society as a disservice to human nature while still adhering to the realist boundaries of a young boy, Twain supplements Huck’s metaphorical rebirth with a more specific and physical manifestation of freedom. While “[l]iving in a house...

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Uploaded by:   morpheus2005

Date:   02/06/2004

Category:   The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

Length:   4 pages (818 words)

Views:   2432

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