, Research Paper
Effective message through dialect, regionalism, and humor in Mark Twain?s
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Some writers use dialect, regionalism, and humor in their literary works to enhance their themes. Mark Twain?s ability to write in the vernacular allows him to capitalize on humor and dialect. In the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the author conveys an effective message through dialect, regionalism, and humor in southern culture.
?No one in the early days of Clemens? fame would have argued against the assertion that he emerged to prominence as a literary comedian, or as the phrase had it, ?funny man??(Blair 19). Mark Twain brought about a joy to a reader that no other could. In his own time he was known all over the world for his humor and other literary techniques. ?In short, Mark Twain who emerges from this study is a man of letters practicing his art, a humorist who knows what he is doing and making the most of his materials?(Ferguson 243).
Twain first got his fame by being a literary comedian. But him being a southwestern humorist, his writing also flourished in the use of local color. Twain did not only contribute comedy to his writing but also an appreciation of what he had to offer (Blair 25). ?Twain was known in California as the wild humorist of the Sage Brush Hills? (Encyclopedia Britannica 76). Twain was not only a comedian in his literary works, but also in his speaking and his way of looking at life. He [Twain] was known all over the world for his humor and his ability to bring humor into any situation. ?Mark Twain, in short, was a personality that could not help but be a humorist, as a literary artist whose work was channeled by such currents, could not help but be an American humorist? (Blair 25). Humor plays a definite role in each of Twain?s works.
Mark Twain?s humor is definitely intentional and serves a definite purpose throughout the novel. American humor is found throughout the whole novel. The laughter is so spontaneous and free of bitterness that the reader often forgets the human existence that Huck contemplates. The novel flows with humor from the joy of life being found living on a raft (Marx 8, 9). Twain?s experiences enable him to tell the story in a funny yet eloquent way, therefore bringing the reader a feeling that no other author could possibly bring to a reader. People have forgotten that no man is all humor, and also have failed to remember that every man is a humorist.
??The quality of humor,? Mr. Clemens went on hurriedly ? for him ? ?is the commonest thing in the world. I mean the perceptive quality of humor. In this sense every man in the world is a humorist. The creative quality of humor ? the ability to thro a humorous cast over a set of circumstances that before had seemed colorless is, of course, a different thing. But every man in the world is a perceptive humorist???(Thomas 2).
In Twain?s writing, Huck is put between two discourses between Jim and Tom. This anxiety that is formed makes the style of Huckleberry Finn a transformation. This style reflects Twain as a writer and humorist (Schmitz 47). Humor is the most common thing in the world. Everyman is a humorist in his own way and humor brings something special to a situation (Thomas 1). Twain was ??essentially all his life long, he was a teller of humorous anecdotes in the manner of southwestern humorists usually in a framework of description or narration? (Blair 24). Twain displays his exquisite niche with literary humor through his many works in that he displays a great craftsmanship.
The usage of many different literary techniques is evident through the novels of Mark Twain. The language of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is what brings out the humor in the book. The language, which required experience, turned to humor as Twain?s elaborate novel unfolds (Cox 6257). Phrases such as ?I was a-listenin? to all de talk? illustrates the method and the language that Twain uses throughout the novel (Twain 137). Deceit is also found in humor by Twain by making ?Jim the wrench, this sudden turn, that takes Huckleberry Finn out of one humorous mode into another, one not yet mapped or charted, from simple to serious humor? (Schmitz 51). Twain uses his own thought and a technique as well as he uses other techniques. ?Many passages show that he turned to the same materials as did the earliest humorist, looking at these materials with the same attitudes, and using the same patterns and methods? (Blair 23). ?The picaresque method ? the method with emphasis upon anecdotal narrative ? developed in Southwestern humor was the art which he [Twain] could best appreciate and employ? (Blair 24). Twain uses his own ways throughout the novel. He speaks in the novel as someone who has met and interacted with in the past. Many thought him to be a clown, but he was far from that writing one of the greatest novels filled with humor (Parrington 186, 187). Twain uses various techniques including the American society itself. Twain took the initiative to poke fun at the American society, and by taking this chance he became the most famous people of American literature. He used every class of society and created a special humor for each class. Because of this he is considered one of the greatest and noblest authors of all time (Mecken 67-71). Twains ability to capitalize on a weakness allowed him to create many humorous works using society and its surroundings.
Mark Twain used the narrator as a person to poke fun at and to bring about a heavy dialect, which creates extremely humorous person. ?Having been encouraged by the contemporary appeal for local color, Twain quickly developed a character with heavy dialect…? (Budd 2328). Huck Finn, the narrator, causes many conflicts throughout the book, with his actions, beliefs, and through his means of communication. Huck?s dialect creates humor and southern vernacular. The vernacular that each character presents controls the mind of the reader. Twain uses Huck?s diction to bring out the best parts of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Cox 6259). Huck?s diction is evident when he states, ?House was jammed again that night, and we sold this crowd the same way? (Twain 224). The vernacular that each character presents controls the mind of the reader and allows the reader to become more involved in the story. Huck?s familiar speech is spoken around us at all times. This illiterate speech, which in its proper place, is charming, but in other places it, is found to be an inadequate language. The speech is emotionally right but socially wrong. Huck enters this paradox when he begins writing as he would speak it (Schmitz 46). Huck speaking in vernacular allows the reader to identify with a unique humor, it allows the reader to see Twain poking fun at society. Mark Twain uses the southern Mississippi culture to create an example and show the defects in America?s true and unaltered society. ?Since Huck?s entire identity is based upon an inverted order of values just as his style is based upon ?incorrect? usage? (Cox 6260). Huck?s improper speech brings about his identity as an individual. Finn?s improper usage tells you about his character and explains why he does things the way he does. Improper usage also allows the reader to see Twain?s humor and possible flaws in literature were intentionally and strategically used.
?It is impossible, of course, to discover any author who furnishes a better climax to a consideration of American humor than Mark Twain? (Blair 19). ?American humor gave Mark Twain, his materials, his methods, and his inspiration? (Blair 27). Huck Finn brings about a humor like no other throughout the novel. Huck?s way of telling the story gives the reader a relaxed and joyous feeling that allows you as a reader to become involved with the characters and feel the humor in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This ?simple distinction of vulgar speech and polite writing constitutes the ?funattick? play of humorous writing?? (Schmitz 47). Huck is a young boy who recalls every single detail and every minor event that takes place. The minor details the Huck recalls presents a childish, yet adult appeal which, in a sense, contrast each other and creates humor on every page. The way he recalls the details also creates humor. Huck being the central character and all events are based on his inability to be proper and dignified. Twian shows that humor can come from and part of society no matter if you are dignified or not. There are weaknesses in every person and Twain capitalized on this creating a truly humorous novel.
Throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain uses various different dialects through characters such as Huck and Jim. Huck tells the story in his own words. Huck breaks down the story into terms that he can understand and therefore presents the story in a southern manner. ?But most important of all was the influence in Mark?s writing of humor of the old southwest. He grew up with that humor? (Blair 22). ?Passages in Mark?s writing time after time are reminiscent of this older southern manner? (Blair 22). Huck said things such as ?twarn?t no use to ?sturb you?? and ?You shove right in dah jist a few steps, Marse Jawge; dah?s what dey?s is. I?s seed ?m befo?; I don?t k?yer to see ?em no mo? (Twain 165, 164). The story through Huck?s eyes is different than what the story would be if someone else would have told the story.
Twain?s dialect is another representative of all classes of society. Miss Watson is a refined woman who knows how to impress someone, and people like Huck and Jim are nothing fancy. Huck and Jim tell you what they believe, and they are far from fancy not supportive of the more dignified and reformed people of society. Regionalism is very prevalent in this aspect of the story. There is a variety of culture in the people along the Mississippi River, whether wealthy land owner or slave; they all are affected by the setting and the other branch of society.
Twain proves himself as a true humorist by making the entire book amazing. There are a variety of dialects used by Twain, and each is purposely represented. ?There are several dialects spoken in the style: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremes form of the Southwestern dialect; the ordinary ?Pike Country? dialect;?(Schmitz 46). Each of these dialects uses many different slang terms and improper English in nearly every sentence. Words such as ?twarn?t? and ?ain?t? are used by nearly every one of the characters and this was done for a special reason. ?The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was revolutionary for its time, in part because Twain wrote the way various Southern people talked, in dialects that both added realism and expose prejudices? (Moss 17). The southwestern dialect is more lie that used by Jim, Miss Watson?s slave, where his speech is slow and drawn out giving the reader a variety. Jim also uses a great deal of Pike Country dialect in his pronunciation of his words. Jim?s dialect becomes evident when he becomes excited and tells Huck, ?We safe, Huck, we?s safe! Jump up crack yo?heels!? (Twain 133). Twain?s American humor had the poetry of fold speech, which was found in his characters spoken dialogue. The talk was noted as a poetic art, which reproduced the rhythms of conversation but also imagery for purposes of laughter. Twain?s choice of words made the talk of his characters, boldly colored (Blair 27). Twain uses the variety of dialect to poke fun at American society and bring about the characters identity throughout the novel.
Twain was not only a fictionist but also one of great humor. Twain?s satire of American mankind was recognized and developed a comedy oh high spirits and hilarious situations. Twain exploited between learned language and vernacular. He used contrasts between realistic and fantastic passages (Blair 26). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is known as the greatest flood of dialect literature that America has ever known (Blair 24). The humor, regionalism, and dialect that Mark Twain presents allows the reader to better understand and enjoy another great American Literary classic.