Huckleberry Finn: Hypocrisy in “Civilized” Society Essay
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a sequel to the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain illustrates the Southern states and slavery. Published in 1884, the novel focuses on the important issues that affected America. These issues included racism, slavery, civilization and greed. The book has become one of the most controversial books ever written. The controversy has grown to the point that the novel became banned in several states due to its racial and slavery context. Various symbols, quotes and events have been used in the novel to show hypocrisy in the civilized society in the novel. Hypocrisy in the civilized society is chosen by the recognized rules and regulations by the society. The regulations and rules disregard reason since they favor a particular group and at the same time obtain unfairness against other groups. One example that illustrates the hypocrisy in the civilized society is the instance where the judge who arrives in the town, who is apparently new, allows Huck’s father Pap to gain custody over Huck (Twain, 25).
In the same instance, Jim, a fugitive slave, does not receive custody over his children under the same legal system. Hypocrisy and ridiculousness is indicated when the judge awards custody of Huck over Pap regardless of the danger that Pap, who is a drunk, is to his son. However, the judge awards custody to Pap based on his position as Huck’s biological father. However, the same law does not apply to Jim who does not gain custody of his children despite him being the biological father of his children. Another example that illustrates the hypocrisy in the civilized society in the novel is the feud between Grangerford and Shepardson. The dispute between the Grangerford and Shepardson families is based on reasons that are worthless to both of them. However, both families engage in violent murders of the family members in an effort to maintain family honor. The families are deemed extremely educated and civilized. The reason that led to the dispute between the two families resulted from the elopement of Sophia Grangerford, Buck Grangerford’s sister and Harney Shepardson.
However, the families have always been in a dispute that has lasted for 30 years for reasons that are unsure. The two families after learning of the elopement bring weapons to church. However, both families, using their guns, kill their family members at the growth of the feud. Regardless of the families’ civilized status, hypocrisy is shown where both families kill each other over a meaningless feud. Another example that indicates hypocrisy in the civilized society in the novel is the biased punishment of crimes according to the society’s rules and regulations. This is shown by the non-judgment of the Duke and the King regardless of the fraudulent schemes that both con artists involved in the community.
Huck and Jim rescue the Duke and the King and offer them their raft. The first scheme begins when both criminals present fake identities to Huck and Jim. The Duke introduces himself as the English Duke’s son, also known as the Duke of Bridgewater whereas the King presents himself as the Lost Dauphin as well as Louis XVI’s son and France’s designated King (Twain, 144-145). Additionally, one of the con artists, the Duke, takes advantage of Jim’s race and position as a runway slave and prints leaflets that offer $200 reward to any person that manages to catch the runaway slave. The Duke is able to do this by occupying an abandoned printing shop in which he was able to print the handouts (Twain, 156).
The con artists use the tactic as a way of buying them time and unrestricted travel for a day. However, most of these crimes that the two commits go unpunished regardless of the statement that the society is civilized and enlightened. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a controversial novel that includes the racial prejudices that characterized conventional America during the civil war. Regardless of the novel narrating a fictional story on actual events, the novel also highlights the current issues that affect the present society. The issues of slavery and racism are still obvious in the world today.
Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Random House, 1996. Print.
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