Running From Reality in Huckleberry Finn
In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a main target of satire is the romantic view of life. Though the characters and symbols, it is evident that the idyllic views are being disparaged. Some of the people in this book are simply deluded, while others cause major tribulations during their lives. Literary romanticism can be pleasant, but it is not real and can confuse those not sage enough to distinguish the difference between a writer’s fantasy and their reality. For a person who sees the delusions that humans allow themselves, this can be aggravating. The annoyance caused is not the problem, however. It is the harm caused. The romantic problems brought to light in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn show how desperate mankind is to escape from its problems rather than face their reality.
The sinking of the steamboat Walter Scott is symbolic of Twain’s dislike for Ivanhoe and its author. In the adventure book, the characters live through a near revolution and even receive a happy ending. Realistically, unless the force was greater, a small group of men would have little chance against an army in a castle. Also, in history, love does not always exist between the heroine and the hero. The events described could happen, but the people are not real. Their actions do not always fit those of someone from their background. A believable character would be like Pap, who stays in character until he is found dead. The reader can tell that when Pap signs the temperance pledge, he will not keep it. He is humorous to those that see how ignorant he is, chasing his own son for being “the Angel of Death”. As for the characters in such a book as Ivanhoe, their actions only…
…further their existence any. Substituting a fantasy for the truth of one’s situation cannot help ameliorate the impediments of life.
Pritchett, V. S. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: An Annotated Text, Background and Sources, Essays in Criticism. Eds. Sculley Bradley, Richmond Croom Beatty, and E. Hudson Long. New York: Norton, 1961.
Pearce, Roy Harvey. “Yours Truly, Huck Finn.” One Hundred Years of Huckleberry Finn. Ed. Robert Sattlemeyer and J. Donald Crowley. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1985. Rpt. in Mark Twain. Modern Critical Views. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 159-82.
Railton, Stephen. “Jim and Mark Twain: What Do Dey Stan’ For?” Virginia Quarterly Review 63.3 (Summer 1987): 393-408.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Bantam, 1994