The Liberties within The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an iconic novel that satirizes many of the romantic writers during it’s time. The main character, Huck, is a young boy who lives with a widow and her sister because of his father’s drunken stupors and abusive ways. When Pap comes to take Huck’s money, Huck gives it away, and out of anger for Huck’s indecency and civilized manners, Pap kidnaps Huck and takes him to live with him. Not long after Huck’s arrival, he escapes and fakes his death and floats towards Jackson Island. There he finds the widow’s runaway slave, Jim. Huck helps Jim escape the many threats of capture and in the end steals him from slavery. Within the novel, Mark Twain uses the topics of personal will, literal and figurative prisons, and the burden of an unequal society to advance the theme of freedom.
The usage of personal will throughout the novel helps shape Huck into a character who regards the consequences of his actions. Huck’s establishment of free will is conveyed when he visits the judge and tells him “I want to give it to you- the six thousand and all.” (Twain 17). Huck’s change in personality can almost be described as a pilgrimage from predetermination to social advancement. This one advancement of character sets the whole novel in motion for it is the first act of personal will. Huck’s free will once again surfaces as his conscience tells him to turn Jim in, while his heart tells him to set him free. Ultimately Huck decides that (not for the good of himself, but for the good of another) turning Jim in would be rather indecent, for he was running for his freedom as well. This ideal therefore proves Huck’s grapple on self awareness and free will is not as much of an internal struggle as it seems, but more of preservation of his own mind.
In order to provide the easily distinguished theme of freedom, Mark Twain also conveys free will through Jim; however Jim’s free will is not as ascertainable as Huck’s. Jim’s thirst for freedom is truly defined by his time as a slave. Throughout this time Jim’s thoughts change as he starts to believe that he should make his own decisions. Much like Huck, Jim uses his free will to escape. Out of Jim’s free will also come his natural rights, Jim starts to question society and how its morals are applicable, because of this “Jim recognizes, what Huck does not, that all men share a common humanity.” (Chodwick 3723). Jim’s role in finding one’s free will spans a large portion of the novel, especially while travelling down the river:
But their river remains an Eden infested with serpents. Ever touched and invaded by the life of the shore, it provides only moments of true freedom. Tricked by nature, Huck and Jim drift past Cairo, Illinois, in a fog and so lose their opportunity to mount the Ohio to freedom. Once their chance for freedom is lost, they are immediately beset by the serpents of civilization. (Martin 1).
Jim’s actions as a citizen,...