More than a century ago, Mark Twain probably composed the single-most important piece of American Literature to ever be composed. This work, widely known as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, basically follows young Huck on a series of adventures and experiences with his close friend and runaway slave, Jim, as they both escape society’s load. The novel includes everything good, bad and in between about and concerning the society of that time. A majority of the novel takes place along the Mississippi river, with Young Huck, and Jim each determined to attain a common goal, freedom from the misery of society. In their journey, they come across many different people, and encounter many strange and new experiences that all relate to a common theme that is clear throughout the novel. As their journey progresses, the reader witnesses many horrific and surprising acts, all performed by none other than man himself. In reading this novel it reveals that human beings are cruel, silly, and hypocritical in nature.
It is obvious that Twain supports the idea of the human race being hypocritical. For instance, take the scene in Chapter 20 where groups of people in Arkansas are listening to the sermon of a preacher. In this descriptive passage, it can be minor through Twain’s writing that the average person of this time was in fact “blinded” by religious influences. The meaning of this event can be observed later on in Chapter 21 where Twain
describes the horrific abuse of animals. “There couldn’t anything wake them up all over, and make them happy all over, like a dog-fight–unless it might be putting turpentine on a stray dog and setting fire to him…” (Twain 140). In putting the two preceding passages in
perspective a distinctive irony becomes visible. The same type of individuals whom practice religion in good faith turn around and perform cruel acts to animals, for sport of all things. This is hypocritical because the basis of religion is definitely not to support or defend Cannistra 2 such acts, but that doesn’t seem to have any adverse affect upon the average person who is merely “blinded” by glamour of religion and what it stands for, not having any intention of carrying out it’s plight. So all said and done, Twain wanted to make it clear to the reader in a subtle way that these two scenes, in conjunction support the statement that Twain’s writing makes the human race out as hypocritical in nature.
In addition of Twain using the experiences that Huck and Jim undergo
to illustrate that man is hypocritical, he uses these experiences to show us that man is cruel and savage as well. Take, for instance this quote from Huck after he witnesses the massacre of the Grangerfords by the Shepardsons. “It made me so sick I most fell out of the tree. I ain’t a-going to tell all that happened–it would make me sick again if
i was to do that” (Twain 115). That particular excerpt merely illustrates to the reader what savage acts humans are capable of doing. The horrific acts that humans commit become that much more disturbing when it can be shown that such violence has no reason or
justification. Twain tells that to us when Huck is asking Buck Grangerford about when the feud all started. “Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon and some of the other old people; but
they don’t know what the row was about in the first place” (Twain 108). The mere thought of such senseless killing, for reason which aren’t even known by the ones
fighting, is quite disturbing to say the least. Twain most likely included this in the novel in order to show us what makes humans so savage and cruel, to kill without reason.
The instances in which Twain, through his writing, exemplifies mankind as cruel are not limited to the ones described in the proceeding. The instance in chapter 30, where the Duke and King sell Jim to Mr. Phelps for 40 dollars illustrates what cruel acts man will resort to just to attain personal wealth. The following quote illustrates how the Duke and Kings cruelty impacted Huck. “…but it warn’t no use–Jim was gone. Then I set down and