How Does Twain Use Irony In Huckleberry Finn

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1884, the year Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was published, was almost 20 years after the American Civil War ended. Although slaves were emancipated forms of slavery and racism were still prevalent in the southern states, and this is reflected in Huckleberry Finn as one of the central topics Twain addresses. Although he focused on this and the issue of racism in the South, as he was an abolitionist, he also criticized Society as a whole, especially the hypocritical aspects of it. He achieves this by portraying the book through the eyes of a young boy, Huckleberry Finn. The book is narrated from Huck’s perspective, and is informal-- almost conversational-- in style. The perspective Twain chooses to write in allows him to make…show more content…
When Jim, Miss Watson’s slave, is introduced it is expected that he would be an uncivilized character because of the prejudice against slaves and African-Americans in general during the time period Huckleberry Finn takes place. However, irony is present in the fact that Jim is one of the most compassionate and intelligent characters in the novel, despite his superstitions, and even becomes a father figure to Huck. His level of intelligence is clear when Huck explains that, “…he [Jim] was right; he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head for a nigger” (Twain 57). Irony is also present with religious hypocrisy in the simple truth that even pious Christians such as Widow Douglas or Aunt Sally own slaves. The Christian faith as a whole pushes for tolerance and love, and although slavery was a common practice, irony and hypocrisy are still seeping from their supposed morals in relation to their actions. Also, although Huckleberry Finn takes place pre-Civil War, little had changed in terms of mindset towards slaves and owning them even after, when the novel was published. This clearly illustrates a country divided by slavery, as even though conflict about slavery was becoming more and more evident during this time period. Symbolism is also a device that Twain uses. Jim himself is a symbol for the enslaved people in the South, as he constantly faces racism and is a slave himself. His struggle for freedom also…show more content…
Irony in Jim’s inferred nature to his actual demeanor, symbolism in Jim himself and his struggle to escape enslavement, and his diction in comparison to that of white characters and their perceptions of him all carry the message that racism and the institution of slavery are immoral, as Jim-- who symbolizes all of the enslaved people of the South-- prevails as one of the most intelligent and compassionate characters in Huckleberry Finn. Religious hypocrisy is most palpable in the irony of pious Christians owning slaves, showing that even stereotypically “good” people are hypocritical. This reflects Twain’s criticism of society’s hypocrisy, as they carry their own hypocrisy throughout the entire novel. Lastly, the United States’ dividedness is present in the irony that many of the mindsets in the novel’s pre-Civil War setting were also present after it was published, and that for Jim the North symbolized freedom and the South enslavement, which clearly shows a

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