Satire in Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an acclaimed piece of work by one of America’s famous early writers, Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn is looked upon as one of the great American novels of all time. The novel traces the story of a young man named Huckleberry Finn from conformity to the Southern way of thinking, to his own ideas. In the novel, Twain shows his opinion on certain topics by satirizes a variety of things such as the romantic mode, sophistication of southern aristocrats’, and the hypocrisy of people.

Twain satirizes romanticism in this novel. The Grangerford’s are a family that welcome Huck into their home when Huck stumbles upon their house in the Kentucky swampland, and pretends to be lost. The Grangerford’s furniture, much admired by Huck, is actually comically tacky. You can almost hear Twain laughing over the parrot-flanked clock and the curtains with cows and castles painted on them even as Huck oohs and ahhs. Huck especially likes the poetry and drawings by the Grangerford’s deceased daughter. Huck describes the poetry verses and drawings so that it is vivid to the reader. The poetry and drawings are romantic, such as the painting of a girl holding a handkerchief, leaning over a tombstone under a weeping willow with the verse “Shall I Never See Thee More Alas” written by it. Huck adores this, however the reader is aware that Twain is making fun of the poetry and drawings. By using Huck’s narration, Twain is successful in creating dramatic irony. Huck likes the drawings, and thinks that the poetry is nice. However, the reader is aware that Twain is being sarcastic when describing the romanticism of the drawings and poetry and Twain uses his satire to let the reader know how foolish he thinks it is.

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Twain satirizes the pseudo sophistication of Southern aristocrats’ in this novel. The Grangerford family offers hospitality to Huck. Huck’s fascination with the Grangerford house permits Twain to compose an elaborate description. Through Huck’s narration, the house is described in detail. Dramatic irony is revealed again when Huck describes the nice clock and books that are perfectly lined up on the table. It is obvious that Twain is poking fun at the fact that many of the items in the house are there so that the Grangerford’s look sophisticated, when in fact, the books are not read, etc. Twain also satirizes the southern feuds in this novel. The southern feuds occur between two families which are the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons. These two families, who conduct themselves in the accordance with the standards of the Southern aristocracy, nevertheless proceed mindlessly to kill one another for a vague reason that is the tradition of the Southern frontier. Twain uses satire to stress to the reader that no matter how sophisticated people may look, if they kill one another, they are scum.

In this novel, Twain also stressed the hypocrisy of people. Twain’s idea that people are basically savages, confined for the moment by society is shown between the Shephardson’s and the Grangerford’s. They are enemies. At one point in the novel, they go to church together and listen to a sermon about brotherly love given by the priest, and then after church, they try to kill each other. Twain’s point of view about people is pessimist; he looks upon civilized man as a merciless, cowardly, hypocritical savage, without want of change, nor ability to effect such change. He shows his opinion in the novel through the Shephardson and Grangerford feud.

It is apparent that Mark Twain wishes society would realize it’s shortcoming and the limitations imposed by human nature. He realizes that people will not change, but feels that they should be aware of who they are, and what comes with humanity’. I believe this is Twain’s main purpose in writing this novel. He is successful in reaching his purpose by using Huck’s narration to let the reader know his point of view by using satire, causing an overall impact on the novel.

In the novel Huckleberry Finn, Twain uses satire. He uses satire to shows his feelings toward the romantic mode, sophistication, and the hypocrisy of people. Twain primarily uses the Grangerford family to be satirical with. He pokes fun at the daughter’s drawings and poetry, the sophistication of the house, and uses their feud with the Shephardson family to show how ridiculous humans can be. Twain’s satire contributes to the overall impact of the novel in that he expresses his opinions about humanity. His satire indicates to the reader his thoughts and feelings.

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