Presentation on theme: "The Dukes Shakespearean soliloquy is a piece of comedy in its own right. As fake as it is, Huck is impressed. David Garrick and Edmund Kean were real."— Presentation transcript:
The Dukes Shakespearean soliloquy is a piece of comedy in its own right. As fake as it is, Huck is impressed. David Garrick and Edmund Kean were real people, the most famous Shakespearean actors of the 19 th century. In town, Huck finds himself in surroundings that are directly opposite the ones he just left with the Grangerfords – yet no more admirable.
Huck witnesses the cold- blooded shooting of a tough- talking drunk who insults a well-dressed man named Colonel Sherburn, who shows a little patience by giving the man a warning but then kills him when the warning is ignored. The townsfolks reaction? To fight over front-row seats to see the dead body, and to revel in a reenactment of the shooting. Only then to they decide to lynch Sherburn.
The average mans a coward…The average man dont like trouble and danger. This is Sherburn, who has just shot and killed a man in cold blood and is contemptuous of the crowd that has come to lynch him. It is a mob comprised of average men who lack the courage to face a single true man in daylight. Without masks or the cover of darkness, they are cowards.
The speech reflects Twains own attitude toward people in general. The human race is, for the most part, made up of fools and knaves. Note Sherburn refers to the average man; he (and Twain) imply the existence of true men who can rise above the average. We can see Jim as a true man of natural nobility; Huck himself is growing into such a man.
Twain was a humorist – but sometimes the humor vanished, and the result were ugly, bitter comments about the human race, such as Sherburns speech. Huck shows he is still a simple kid when he is taken in by the circus masters ruse. Jims pining for his family, and Huck seems surprised, which indicates he still doesnt think of Jim as quite human, even if he is friends with Jim. Jims account of his actions toward his deaf daughter shows us how human Jim really is.
…All kings is mostly rapscallions, as fur as I can make out… (Jim) Huck reflects Twains own contempt for European aristocracy when he says, They dont do nothing…They just set around – except maybe when theres a war; then they go to war. But other times they just lazy around.
Jim calls the king and duke rapscallions because of their blatant dishonesty. But rapscallions are rogues rather than villains: Their rascality may range from mere mischief to trickery, fraud, and theft but never to crimes of complete moral depravity such as murder or rape.
…I do believe [Jim] cared as much for his people as white folks does for theirn. It dont seem natural, but I reckon its so. In the slave-holding society of Hucks time, African Americans are regarded as cattle, incapable of experiencing any of the deeper of finer human feelings. Therefore, their God- ordained role is that of insensible beasts of burden.
Huck does not consciously question the values of his society. Thus, he initially has difficulty accepting Jims humanity: The concept that a black man has the same capacity to love his family as white people does run contrary to everything Huck has been taught.
It is Hucks loving heart that allows him to rise above the conditioning of his society and recognize Jim as a fellow human being with a soul. Although Huck never questions the rightness of slavery, his acceptance of Jims humanity unconsciously denies any moral justification for slavery.
The plan to have Jim get in costume on the raft is a plot device that allows Huck and the con men to stay in town for several days. The towns reaction to the con mens story about being the deceased mans relatives made Huck say to himself, It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.
Why does Huck go along with this shameful behavior? Jim, whom Huck knows is in a dangerous situation with these ruthless characters. Twain expresses disgust with more than the con men – he also is disgusted with the narrow vision of the townspeople. It all adds up to an indictment of all of us.
Imposter: one who practices deceit or fraud by pretending to be someone he is not. The King is a double impostor: He is not really a king and is now assuming the false identity of Parson Harvey Wilks so that he can steal from the deceased Peter Wilks estate.
The novel is filled with impostors, thus pointing up the hypocrisy of the society. Even Huck becomes an impostor on several occasions, although, when he assumes a false identity, it is to either protect Jim or himself rather than commit fraud.
Chapter 27 ends with Huck expressing his pleasure that Id worked it all off onto the niggers, and yet hadnt done the niggers no harm by it. His practical approach to morality is still much in evidence, but hes also unwilling to hurt other people when it can be avoided. Huck is startled and puzzled by the discovery that in a tight spot it might actually be better and safer to tell the truth than lie. He compares himself to Judas, however – in keeping with his low self-image. Mary Janes willingness to pray for Huck may lead him to fall in love for the first and only time in his life.