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The Use of Humor in Huckleberry Finn
Francesca Delgadilloon 10 December 2010
Transcript of The Use of Humor in Huckleberry Finn
C - Mod Humor Used to Show Hypocrisy Twain uses humor to spotlight religious hipocrisy. Miss Watson, who teaches Finn, takes it upon herself to instruct Huck in religious matters and on how one should act if they hope to reach heaven. This is ironic, as she owns slaves. The owning of slaves is condemned in her BIble, but she has them anyway.
(Twain 14) An example of the Widow acting humorously two-faced is when she forbids Huck from smoking in Chapter 1. Huck had asked her if he could smoke and she "said it was a mean practice and wasn't clean." But Huck justified the Widow herself smoking. "And she took snuff too; of course that was all right, because she done it herself." (Twain 15) Humor Used for a Serious Effect Sarcastic Humor Used to Make a Point An example of sarcastic humor in the novel is the scene where Huck's "Aunt Sally," Mrs. Phelps, mistakes Huck for her relative Tom Sawyer. Huck tells her a story about a steamboat accident and says the explosion was so dangerous a black man died. Mrs. Phelp's responded with "lucky, that no one got hurt." It was a racist comment. Twain is emphasizing the racist feelings many Americans had. This is an example of an understatement. (Twain 230) Another example of humor used to prove an point was in Chapter 14 when Huck and Jim are arguing about the French language. Jim cannot understand the need for different languages, and Huck can't seem to convince him otherwise.
In the end, Huck gives up on Jim, dismissing him because "you can't learn" him "to argue." Huck cares so much about Jim but he just dismisses his arguement because he claims Jim doesn't know what he is saying. (Twain 89) The Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons were also shown to be hypocritical. They humorously brought their guns to church in Chapter 18 and the "men kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall." Twain was poking fun at the family because of the families' ridiculous feud. (Twain 129) Humor Used for Humorous Reasons Sometimes Twain incorporates humorous scenes just to make the reader laugh. This could be called comedic humor. The scene where Huck and Jim debate King "Sollermun" was just ment to make the reader laugh. Jim's opinion was "yit dey say Sollermun de wises' man dat ever live.' I doan' take no stock in that." (Twain 87) Two characters that constantly make the reader laugh are the Dauphin and the Duke. They are actually just two conmen with a talent for lying. When Huck stumbles upon the first man who calls himself a duke, Huck is suspicious but just plays along with it. The Dauphin that they also meet is really an old man. When he hears the "duke" is a duke, the old man tries to one-up him by claiming royal ties. The old man claims he is the rightful heir to the French throne. (Twain 139,141) Another example of comedic humor is in Chapter 33 when Tom, pretending to be somebody else, kisses his Aunt Sally. She is so surprised at his action she starts to yell at him. Tom then proceeds to make up a story saying the locals told him to do it. He tries to close the arguement syaing, "N'm, I'm honest about it; I won't ever do it again. Until you ask me," which sets off a new arguement. Twain keeps the reader's attention with this type of humorous dialogue. (Twain 237) A closing excerpt from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn "For land's sake, what IS the matter with the child? He's (Huck) got the brain-fever as shore as your born, and they're oozin' out!"
- Aunt Sally, Chapter 40 Works Cited
"Humor and Wit in Huckleberry Finn Essay." Example Essays.com - Over 100,000 essays, term papers and book reports!. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. < http://www.exampleessays.com /viewpaper/14451.html>.
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Literary Analysis." escoala.ro. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2010. <www.e-scoala.ro/referate/ engleza _huckleberry_ finn_ literary.html>.
Twain, Mark, and Thomas Cooley. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: an authoritative text, contexts and sources, criticism. 3rd ed. New York: Norton, 1999. Print.
Slavery, exposing the hypocrisy of, and demonstrates how racism distorts. "SparkNotes: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Themes, Motifs & Symbols." SparkNotes: Today's Most Popular Study Guides. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2010. <http://www.sparknotes.com/ lit/huckfinn/themes.html>.