The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn As Journey Through The Afterlife

3307 words - 13 pages

SanFelippo PAGE 10
Adam SanFelippoMr. KearneyAmerican Hero/412 December 2008The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as Journey Through the AfterlifeThe afterlife, in unanimity with the underworld, includes a plethora of mythological characters and symbols in the form of the river Styx, Cerberus, Charon, and Hades itself. The journey into the underworld is instigated with a person's death and preparation for passage into hell, as he needs to realize certain requirements. Greek mythology suggests the feral River Styx, "across which the dead were ferried," as the dangerous river leading into the underworld (Webmaster). On the river souls drift along until they meet the requirements, gaining admittance from Charon and Cerberus. The river Styx "literally means 'hateful' and expresses loathing of death" and many Greek philosophers believe the water to be a form of poison (Encarta). "Charon, the ferryman on the river Styx, leads souls across the river on his raft into Hades, admitting passage only to those bodies, "containing a coin" (Encarta). Charon also forces those souls without the coin to float continuously on the river Styx for one hundred years. "Those who had not received due burial and were unable to pay his fee would be left to wander the earthly side of the Akheron, haunting the upper world as ghosts" (Atsma). In Greek mythology, Cerberus, or "hellhound," a three-headed dog with a dragon like tail, guards the entrance to Hades, admitting souls but letting no one escape. The final attribute of the afterlife, on the side of Hades, includes the description of Hades itself. Hades is the land of the dead which, "is a dim and unhappy place, inhabited by vague forms and shadows" (Encarta). The characteristics of Hades also add to the atmosphere of demise and hopelessness, which surrounds the River Styx. By including the characteristics of the afterlife throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain offers supportive details which illustrate the novel as Huck Finn's journey through the afterlife and to the gates of Hades.The initial and most important necessity for a novel of the afterlife is the addition of a deceased character. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain starts the novel by depicting the pessimistic Huckleberry Finn's unhappiness in the present world, describing the afterlife and hell as a superior home: "but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer, I lit out.…I felt so lonesome I most wished I was dead" (Twain 1, 3). After escaping from his home, the unpredictable Huckleberry Finn returns, only providing his polemical father with an opportunity to take him away to his little house, where again Huckleberry Finn finds himself unhappy in his current environment. Finally, Huckleberry decides death to be the cure for all his problems and develops an elaborate scheme to "fake" his own passage into...

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