2Mark Twain BiographySamuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30, 1835.He was an American satirist, humorist, lecturer and writer. He is best known for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnBorn and raised in Hannibal, Missouri, right along the Mississippi River.Father died when he was twelve, and he had to leave schoolEventually made his way to the West where we worked as a reporter for three years.After marrying Olivia Langdon, he moved to New England and began his writing career, which was to make him famous.Died on April 21, 1910
3The Gilded AgeThe Gilded Age ( ) was an era of rapid economic growth, especially in the North and West, but also much social conflict. American wages, especially for skilled workers, were much higher in Europe; this attracted millions of immigrants.This was a period when corruption existed in society, but was overshadowed by the wealth of the period. “Gilded” is when something beautiful on the surface, but is actually cheap/worthless underneath.Abuses in business and government caused problems for immigrants, laborers and farmers.This term was coined by Mark Twain, who co-authored a book by this title.
4Twain’s Writing StyleTwain incorporates various writing styles in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the most dominant of these are listed below:Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule or sarcasm to expose and criticize people’s ineptness or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and the other topical issuesIrony: the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous, emphatic or satirical effectColloquial Language: informal speech, a variety of language commonly employed in conversation or other communication in informal situationsEpisodic Plot Structure: made of a series of chapters or stories linked together by the same character, place of theme, but held apart by individual plot, purpose and and subtext.
5Racism and SlaveryThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written twenty years after the Emancipation Proclamation; however, America was still struggling with racism and the aftereffects of slavery.Twain exposes the hypocrisy of slavery and demonstrates how racism distorts the oppressors as much as the oppressed.The result is a world of moral confusion, especially for Huck.It was the Twain’s intention that the slavery in the novel be read as a metaphorical representation of the conditions of blacks even after the abolishment of slavery.
6Intellectual and Moral Education Throughout most of the novel, Huck remains an uneducated boy. He distrusts the morals and precepts of the society that treats him as an outcast and fails to protect him from abuse.Huck questions his teachings, especially regarding race, slavery and religion.In many instances, Huck chooses to “go to hell” rather than go along with the rules of society.Huck, then, becomes a noble savage, a representation of primitive mankind who symbolizes the innate goodness of humanity when he is free from the corrupting influence of civilization.It is only when Huck is free from society’s rules, he is able to draw his own conclusions without restrictions of the rules and values of Southern culture.By the novel’s end, Huck has learned to “read” the world around him, to distinguish good from bad and friend and foe. His moral development is sharply contrasted with the views of Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas.
7The Hypocrisy of “Civilized” Society “Civilized” to Huck means:Regular baths, uncomfortable shoes, mandatory school and church attendanceDegraded rules that defy logic:Huck’s abusive father, who is a drunkard, is allowed to keep custody of him because he is Huck’s biological fatherThe injustice of slavery that keeps Jim from his familySeemingly moral people are prejudiced slave ownersTerrible acts go unpunished, while lesser crimes lead to severe punishmentThrough these examples, Twain asserts that it is impossible for a society that owns slaves to be just, regardless of how “civilized” it claims itself to be.Rather than hold themselves as pious and moral Christians, the people of Huck’s society are marked by cowardice, a lack of logic and profound selfishness.
8MotifsChildhood: Huck’s youth is an important factor in his moral education; only a child is open-minded enough to undergo the kind of development that Huck doesLies and Con Artists: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is full of malicious lies and scams, which hurt a number of innocent peopleSuperstitions and Folk Beliefs: Jim believes in a whole range of superstitious and folktales; although Huck is reluctant to believe them at first, many of the beliefs have some basis in realityParodies of Popular Romance Novels: The novel is full of people, who base their lives on romantic literary models and stereotypes of various kinds…Tom Sawyer, for example, bases his life and actions on adventure novels
9The Mississippi RiverThe Mississippi River is the most important symbol in the novel. It becomes symbolic of Huck’s journey to discover his natural virtue. The current determines the direction of the raft, as well as Huck’s life.There is a major contrast between life on the Mississippi River and life on the shore because life on the river (uncivilized) is peaceful and easy, yet not totally without its dangers.However, life on the shore (civilized) can be cruel authoritarian, hypocritical and reflective of what Twain called, “The Damned Human Race.”Life on the raft is paradoxical. Even though they are confined to a small space on the raft, Huck and Jim experience greater freedom than they would in their society.
10BildungsromanA bildungsroman is a novel that traces the psychological and moral development and maturation of the main character or characters. It is sometimes referred to as a “coming of age” novel.Usually this representation will pertain to the protagonist, although in rare cases, the bildungsroman can also feature the inverse development of the antagonist.Plot of Bildungsroman:Emotional loss for youthYouth leaves home on journeyEncounters many conflicts (man vs. himself, man vs. society, man vs. nature)Youth learns many life lessons, maturesYoung adult accepts the values of society, and society, in turn, accepts himAdult returns home with new knowledge to benefit society
11Construction of the Bildungsroman The author will create a situation that allows the reader to see the young protagonist grown and experience struggles in his journey to adulthood through formal education, personal experience and various kinds of friendship.The author often shows the protagonist struggling with the transition between the innocence of childhood and the responsibility that comes with adulthood.Usually, in a bildungsroman, the young protagonist will experience a loss of biological parents. He will have surrogate guides, who will help him through his journey, but the final step to maturation will be taken by himself.Examples of Bildungsromans:Great ExpectationsJane EyreTo Kill a MockingbirdHarry Potter (the entire series)