’nhead Wilson Essay, Research Paper

Pudd?nhead Wilson

The book, Pudd?nhead Wilson, seems like a modern day soap opera. It has one

main theme with other stories and subplots that revolve around it. With all these stories,

Mark Twain must of had many influences to help him write this wonderful book. Before

we begin to discuss that, let me give you a little background on his book.

Contrary to the title Pudd?nhead Wilson, the main character, to me, seems to be

Roxana?s son Valet de Chambers/Tom Driscoll. Why the reason for the two names?

Well, let me explain. Roxy is 1/16 part black, but that still makes here black and a slave.

She belonged to Percy Driscoll, who had son named Tom. Tom was born around the

same time that Roxy?s son, Chambers, was. Both boys looked remarkably alike, since

Chambers is only 1/32 part black, he too looked like white boy. So, in order to save her

baby boy from getting sent down the river, she switches the two babies. It seems almost

like the twinned, but unrelated story of the Prince and the Pauper

(http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton/wilson/mttwins.html). Most of the story revolves

around Roxy?s son, Tom/Chambers, but there are some other subplots mixed in with their


Another plot that you would read, would be about the extraordinary twins. These

Italian twins, Luigi and Angelo Capello, come to Dawson?s Landing to rent a room from

old Widow Cooper. The whole town quickly becomes infatuated with their stories of

royalty and far away places. While reading, one can?t help to wonder if these twins are

lying about their lavish lives to the naive towns people.

The actual story of Pudd?nhead Wilson himself is and interesting one. His real

name before the dubbed him Pudd?nhead Wilson is David Wilson. He?s a young lawyer,

who just moved into the small town. On his first day there, he made a comment to a

couple of the locals that he would regret for many, many years to come. This is the same

time when he?d become known as Pudd?nhead Wilson. Later in the story it shows how he

finally over comes that nickname after many years of living with it by using his unusual

finger print collection he?s been keeping.

In the book you will also read about a murder, a trial, and a prophecy. One may

wonder where Mark Twain?s influences came from. Well, it all starts in his home town of

Hannibal, Mississippi (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton/wilson/pwhompg.html). In many

of his books he models the town off of where he grew up and this is also true for the

village of Dawson?s Landing in Pudd?nhead Wilson. Even though he moved the village a

couple hundred miles down the Mississippi, you still see influences from his childhood.

Before Twain ever thought of writing Pudd?nhead Wilson, he first wrote Those

Extraordinary Twins. After he finished writing Those Extraordinary Twins, he wrote a

letter to Fred Hall, in which he said, ?I begin, today, to entirely re-cast and re-write the

first two-thirds — new plan, with two minor characters, made very prominent, one major

character cropped out, and the Twins subordinated to a minor but not insignificant place.

The minor character will now become the chiefest, and I will name the story after him –

Pudd?nhead Wilson (http://marktwain.miningco.com/library/letters.bl_letter921212).?

At first, Pudd?nhead Wilson, was going to be a farce about Siamese twins

(mttwins). Instead, it turned out to be a story of irony of two almost identical babies

switched at birth. One was white and the other was only 1/32 part black. That small

fraction made Chambers a slave and doomed to a life of poverty, abuse, and fear of being

sent down the river, even though he look exactly like a white person.

Mark Twain originally had the book published under the name The Tragedy of

Pudd?nhead Wilson and The Comedy of Those Extraordinary Twins (pwhompg). It was

first published in America on November 28, 1894 (pwhompg).Now, you can see the book

as just Pudd?nhead Wilson. It?s funny how Mr. Twain calls it the tragedy of Pudd?nhead

Wilson, when in the end he redeems himself and is seen as popular and prestigious.

Wouldn?t you consider that more of a success and not a tragedy?


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