Satirizing America The Purpose Essay

1187 words - 5 pages

Satirizing America: The Purpose of Irony in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn In 1884, Mark Twain published the sequel to his successful novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. With the sequel, Twain took a different approach rather than the comical, boyish tone of Tom Sawyer. He used it as an opportunity to exposes the problems he had seen with society using one of the most powerful methods available to a writer: irony. The technique gave Mark Twain much flexibility in his writing. It was a subtle yet powerful way of expression; critical social commentary enveloped in whimsical humor. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn amuses the reader while expressing a powerful message about society.Using irony, Twain has created an entire novel that satirizes the foolishness he noticed about society. One wrong he saw with society was that man could be so cruel and inhumane to his fellow man. Take the irony that surrounds the situation at the Phelps' farm. The Phelps' were good-natured Christians whom were taught by society that slavery was morally right. Therefore, Jim is treated accordingly and locked up in a shed for running away. One subtle part of the irony is that the cruelest person to Jim was not the Phelps', who locked him in the shed, nor the king, who sold Jim to the Phelps. Instead the most cruel person happens to be Tom Sawyer. Tom needlessly put Jim through arduous conditions: first, for knowing that Jim was already a free man, and secondly, such measures were not necessary for the simple task of freeing Jim. Accordingly, they actually allowed Jim out to help them push the grindstone towards the shed: "We see it warn't no use; we got to go and fetch Jim. So he raised up his bed and slid the chain of the bed-leg" (196). Furthermore, after they placed the grindstone where it needed to be, Tom and Huck "helped him fix his chain back on the bed-leg" (197). In addition, after Tom and Huck finally set Jim free, he was still treated with cruelty even though he had stayed to help Tom when he was shot. Jim risked his freedom and yet the "kind treatment" the doctor suggested was the promise of ending the cursing and placing him back in his shed (215). Slavery, to Mark Twain, was another form of cruelty as illustrated by the conversation Huck had with Joanna at the Wilks' home where Huck is trying to conjure up a plausible story about his background in England: "'How is servants treated in England? Do they treat 'em better 'n we treat our niggers?' 'No! A servant ain't nobody there. They treat them worse than dogs'" (131).One must realize that slaves in the United States were also treated worse than dogs; another social criticism Mark Twain illusively placed without losing fluidity.Mark Twain also used irony to satirize the notion that whites adhered to: superiority over blacks. The prime example of this kind of irony would be the comment Aunt Polly made when Huck had fabricated the story about the cylinder-head accident: "'It warn't the grounding -- that...

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