The Use Of Allegory In "Jim Smiley And Hi Jumping Frog"

1259 words - 5 pages


Vitória ProchetEnglish 8166-001: Topics in American RegionalismDr. Johanningsmeier11 October 2014The use of allegory in Jim Smiley and His Jumping FrogPortraying regions in America through literature is a challenge. Balancing the realities of the regions versus what the urbanized reader wants to read is a difficult task for writers. However, some writers have found very subtle ways of not only portraying the region, but also using sarcasm towards urbanities, showing their own opinions between the lines of their stories.Mark Twain was one of these writers. The author became famous for "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" for appealing to two audiences: the urbanite and the regionalist reader. The elements used in the story can make both audiences laugh and understand it in different ways, depending on the background one has. The use of different characters to make the reader connect to the story is evident: the narrator, who is an urbanite, the outsider, trying to get an experience from the country; and Simon Wheeler, the local character, the one who is looked down on by the urbanites.An interesting aspect of the story, and the main point to be observed in this paper, is how the author uses allegory and allusions in the story. The dog's and the frog's names have political connotations. The dog, Jackson, was named after the seventh president of the United States of America, who was the first democrat American president, a man of the people, who in the story is portrayed as a dog with no manners. The educated frog was named after one of the leading American statesmen, Daniel Webster, a man of power and knowledge, who was an attorney and known for being an excellent narrator. Webster also served as a senator and secretary of state and confronted many of Jackson's ideas.Allegory is "a symbolic fictional narrative that conveys a meaning not explicitly set forth in the narrative. Allegory, which encompasses such forms as fable, parable, and apologue, may have meaning on two or more levels that the reader can understand only through an interpretive process" (Encyclopædia Britannica), so, the fact that this story uses allegories leads the reader to believe there is hidden ideology in this very simple story, and the reader will only understand it based on his own background. But what ideology would that be?The simplicity in Twain's story makes the reader curious to know what is being said between the lines, the reason for such a ridiculous story to be written and why it was so famous. It brought us to research about the two politicians mentioned in the story, and interesting background facts could be related to the characters in "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog", and such facts could bring us to understand Twain's political ideology.The first allegory to appear in the story is Jackson. The former president was born in poverty in the south of the United States of America. He spent the first years of his life among North Carolina, South Carolina...

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