A Psychoanalytic Reading Of Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

1595 words - 6 pages

A Psychoanalytic Reading of Huckleberry Finn

       Psychoanalytic conditions, stages and symptoms pervade the seemingly simplistic narration of a child-narrator, Huck Finn. Such Freudian psychoanalytic ideas as "Thanatos," "repressed desires" and how they seek their way back through dream work, through "parapraxis," can all find examples in this fiction. Besides, Lacanian concept of the unconscious as the "nucleus of our being," as "an orderly network," as well as his famous theory the "mirror stage" can be applied to this novel as a whole as well.

Lacan states that the unconscious, the "kernel of our being," is "an orderly network," like the structure of a language (Barry 111-113); this statement can be found true in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." In this particular picaresque of Huck*s adventures, episodes are ostensibly unrelated to each other just as most picaresque novels are. Huck Finn, however, in the unconscious of the text, follows a family pattern in which families come eventually to destruction. First take Huck*s six major lies for example. When Huck is in disguise, seeking information from Mrs. Loftus, he pretends to be a girl, Sarah Williams, whose mother is ill, and thus is on her way to get her uncle to come to help. Later, when his lie is discovered, he again invents a family in which both of his parents are dead and he is now a renegade apprentice. Next, in order to save the gang on the Walter Scott from drowning, Huck makes up a whole family including pap, mam, sis, and Uncle Hornbeck. Again, another family with pap, mam, and Mary Ann is invented in order to save Jim from slavery. And when with Grangerfords, Huck identifies himself with George Jackson and tells of the decline of a relatively large family on a farm in Arkansas--in which Mary Ann goes off and gets married, followed by Bill who hunts for her; then Tom and Mort die, and pap expires. Lastly when dealing with the Duke and the Dauphin, again another family in Pike Country, Missouri is invented.

It can be observed that in most cases, Huck invents families for himself, then brings his family to destruction, to death. Lastly, at the end of his adventures, Huck again finds himself a family, this time a "real" one--the Phelps (Solomon 438). Furthermore, besides Huck*s lies, his adventures on shore, also follow a family pattern.

The Grangerford family has fighted out bloody destructive feud, for example, with the Shepherdsons. Also, the Duke and the King poses as heirs of a considerable fortune left by Peter Wilks. Moreover, they emphasize that they are descendants of, relatively, the ducal Bridgewaters, and the regal Louis XVI. And of course, Huck himself, firstly escapes from an "imprisonment-family" in which his savage father mistreats him, then flight from an over-"sivilized" adoption (Solomon 440). Yet one might wonder why Huck*s journey unconsciously focuses on family ties. According to Lacan, "all subjectivity is based on loss,...

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