Mark Twain Essay, Research Paper
In Mark Twain?s novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he uses several different themes. His themes help to portray the meaning and message of the novel. Twain?s major theme in the novel is man?s inhumanity to man. He develops this theme through the inhumane actions of Pap toward Huck, the dishonesty of the King and the Duke toward the Wilkes girls, and the betrayal of Jim for money by the King and the Duke.
Twain uses the inhumane actions of Pap toward Huck to help develop the major theme of his novel. “? I?ll take you down a peg before I get done with you?” (20). This quote shows how man is inhuman to other men, even if they are related and supposed to love each other. Pap talks and acts mean towards Huck, even though Huck is his own son. Not only is Pap mentally abusive toward Huck, but he is also physically abusive toward him. “But by and by pap got too handy with his hick?ry, and I couldn?t stand it. I was all over welts”(24). The way that Pap treats Huck shows the inhumanity of man toward other men and helps to develop the major theme of the novel.
The dishonesty of the King and the Duke toward the Wilkes girls also help to develop the major theme of the novel. The Duke and the King take their cruelty to another level because they steal and lie to the Wilkes girls, who are left all alone with no parents.
And not sell the rest o? the property? March off
like a passel of fools and leave eight or nine
thous?n? dollars? worth o? property layin? around
jest sufferin? to be scooped in?-and all good,
salable stuff, too. (170-171)
The Duke and the King are so inhumane that they will go as far as stealing from three innocent girls. “And he said of course him and William would take the girls home with them”(176). Not only do the Duke and the King steal money from the girls, but they also lie to them about bringing them to England just so they can have more money. They plan cruel and inhumane things to do to the girls when the girls have done nothing to deserve it.
Twain also develops the major theme of the novel through the betrayal of Jim for money by the King and the Duke. “? and nobody came out of the wigwam. Jim was gone!”(203). The Duke and the King symbolize the nation?s scum, and through their action of selling Jim they prove this as well as prove that they do not care about Jim or Huck. They are inhumane and just care about money. Huck learns about the Duke and the King?s actions from a boy in town. ” ?It was an old fellow – a stranger – and he sold out his chance in him for forty dollars?”(203). The Duke and the King are so cruel and desperate that they can not even wait to sell Jim back to his owner for $200, they must have some kind of money, even just $40, now. The Duke and the King are cruel to their fellow man, Jim, even when him and Huck are so good to them.
These are just some of the many ways that Mark Twain develops the major theme in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain uses this type of deliberate cruelty to help make the major theme clearer to the reader. By the inhumane actions of Pap towards Huck, the dishonesty of the King and the Duke toward the Wilkes girls, and the betrayal of Jim for money by the King and the Duke the theme of this novel is well developed.