Research Paper: Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

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[. . .] The conflict of the rich and the poor is apparent, and Huck's attitude towards money is as carefree as his nature, perhaps because of his upbringing. Jim on the other hand views money with more seriousness and equates it to freedom and all that comes with it.

Mark Twain returns to religion on many levels, and seems to mock the ideals of Southerners at the time. In particular, during the chapters of The Royal Nonesuch, Twain enlightens his readers with a social commentary on the views of women and children at the time and the interesting irony of men being duped into a show that they believe could be sexual, and still hold onto their moral Christian beliefs. "From the artistic point-of-view, there is not a coarse nor vulgar suggestion from the beginning to the end of the book. Whatever is coarse and crude is in the life that is pictured, and the picture is perfect. (The Atlanta Constitution)."

More so than any other theme, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is a commentary on 'civilised living' compared to a 'natural life'. Huck turns his back on the Widow Douglas and book-learning, opting for adventure and experience-learning.

We learn from Huck's actions how much he has learnt and values, especially when he free Jim (despite the consequences of being sent to Hell) and applies the knowledge he has gained from his experiences with people and his surroundings.

Having once read "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" when I was a child, I discovered upon reading it now that my perception of the characters and understanding of the novel were quite different. I applied this approach, referred to as "Reader-Response" in my second reading.

Essentially, this form of criticism is taken from the theory that literature exists as a transaction between the physical text and the mind of the reader. Like writing, reading is a 'creative process' and people will gain and interpret novels in different ways.

As a child, I enjoyed the adventures and travels of Huck and Jim; and delighted in the suspense and subtle humor. Now, I feel I have gained more from the novel, understanding the historical perspective a little more, as well as the symbolism that adds another dimension to Twain's masterful storytelling.

A understand the scope of the Mississippi and the dangers of slave-traders more so than just acknowledging them as 'bad guys'. There is also a deeper appreciation for Twain's style and skill at weaving in social and political commentary as subtly as he did with Huckleberry Finn's actions and dialogues.

The use of literary criticism as applied to a classic like "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" gave me the opportunity to fully interpret the novel and appreciate its value according to the time it was written and as a wonderful children's classic.

A found I greatly benefited from the 'historical-biographical' approach. By learning about the time and Twain's views, I was able to appreciate his use of language and prose to pass on his views and comments on the South, without appearing overly political. Coupled with the 'reader-response' and 'sociological criticism', I was able to spot themes and symbolism I had missed when I was a child. Twain's ability to place highly volatile issues and marked themes such as slavery and religion within the book was otherwise missed in my first reading.

The other approach, though valuable to my experience, was not as beneficial as the other three, in reading this novel. I would imagine the 'formalist' approach would be greatly appreciated in Shakespeare and Hemingway where tone, imagery and language play a greater part in the reading experience and interpretation.

Literary criticism is something I believe readers do subconsciously and what they discover in themselves is an added bonus to how they enjoy and experience the story. I found myself as carefree as Huck Finn and appreciative of his intellect and astute wisdom. He is a character whose central beliefs reflect those of Mark Twain's, making him one of the literary world's most charismatic and memorable characters.

Bibliography

ClassicNotes ClassicNotes on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

GradeSaver, 2002.

Railton, S. Mark Twain in His Times. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/railton/index2.html,2001.

The Atlanta Consitution "Huckleberry Finn" and His Critics. May 26, 1885. [END OF PREVIEW]

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/huckleberry-finn-mark-twain/6644073.