Romanticism In Huckleberry Finn

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Perhaps no piece of literature is as divisive as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Since 1884, Mark Twain’s most famous work has been at the center of controversy in America, . Inclusion of the n-word over 200 times and various minstrel caricatures have prompted many, including the NAACP to label it as offensive and remove it from schools across America. Throughout the course of Huck Finn, the two main characters, Huck and Jim, a footloose child and an escaped slave, travel down the Mississippi River to freedom, facing various obstacles the entire way, ranging from con-men to the morals of white southern society; focusing on how the two characters, specifically Huck, evolve throughout the story. Conversely, as a novel Huck Finn provides…show more content…
Right off the bat starting with Tom’s Gang, Twain satirizes these romanticist tropes relentlessly. Thus, by not following romanticism, Twain presents slavery and racism wholly, as it was without any rose-tinted glasses. This is a significant factor in the novel, and one of the reasons such controversy has stirred around this perceived issue. In the same sense, Twain embraces realism, attempting to give a true to life representation of the world Huck and Jim live in. Towards the end, plans to free Jim have been labeled by critics as a return to minstrelsy, but under the surface they represent the systematic oppression of freed slaves and African Americans. They were seen as ploys for the whites to use for entertainment with no concern to their situation or troubles. Tom uses Jim for his own entertainment, and this is acceptable to society. Huck is even confused as to why Tom would help him, as Huck does not know that Jim has been freed. Huck labels this moral development as a result of his poor upbringing and rejection of society. Viewing Tom through Huck’s eyes, even the idea of helping a fellow person in trouble is completely negated as society deems it not “okay”, his astonishment visible when he says, “Well, I let go all holts then, like I was shot. It was the most astonishing speech I ever heard - and I’m bound to say Tom Sawyer fell, considerable, in my estimation. Only I couldn’t believe it. Tom…show more content…
The NAACP has campaigned for the novel removed from schools on account of over 200 uses of the n-word, particularly in the passage about Jim and the witches. This only serves to humiliate and bring up painful memories that serve no purpose (Wallace). These critics also point out what appears is a degradation of Jim’s character. He falls under quite a few caricatures of the time all of which are used by the opposition to assert that Twain is abandoning any attempt to finalize the evolution observed between Huck and Jim, allowing him to fall back into the role of a “stupid quiet slave” (Caricature). While an argument can certainly be made for this theory, it is better explained by the context it is presented in. When thrown back into society, all of the progress Huck and Jim have made striving for equality is negated by the fact that they are back in white society. The PBS film “Born to Trouble” explores this possibility. Specifically, the professor from Seattle notes how the inclusion of the words and actions critics deem offensive are what give Huck Finn its power. Without them it would just be another book, without any real lesson on racism and the evils that pertain to it (Born to Trouble). As a realist, Twain is faithfully representing the cruel mindset of the 1860s-80s no matter how ugly it appears on text. It is this brutal realism that creates the controversy
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