Huckleberry Finn and 19th Century Society Book Review by Kiran23

Huckleberry Finn and 19th Century Society
A look at how Mark Twain's novel "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" captures the social and political picture of the 19th century.
# 109139 | 2,270 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on Nov 19, 2008 in Literature (American) , English (Analysis)

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This paper examines how Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is one of the most authentic records on the social construction of Mississippi in 19th century. The book has been hailed as a classic but more so, for its unbiased view of the times in which it was written. It discusses how although some of the scenes may appear idyllic, there is a sense of gloom and doom hanging over the book which radiate the central purpose of the book i.e. to highlight the social issues of the time. Some of the predominant themes of the novel are discussed and they are put in historical context so we can better understand why characters, Huckleberry and Jim, said or did what they did.

The Issue of Equality and Government
Presidential Election and Class system
Manifest Destiny
Death and Destruction

From the Paper:

"The novel adequately captures the beliefs and practices of the time such as viewing slaves as property; the custom where slaves were separated from their families without any humane consideration, the activities of slave traders, the financial position of slave owners which would often make them sell their properties without any concern for the slave. These were just some of the practices. The novel also aptly captures the emotions of slaves who were so harshly treated by the owners. It captures the fear of the owners to be sold further into the south, the activities of abolitionists who were working ceaselessly for bringing an end to slavery, the hope of the slave that he might one day escape the hardships of life. All these were without a shred of doubt, the main reason for writing this novel."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Mark Twain's Autobiography [ New York: Gabriel Wells, 1924],
  • Albert Bigelow Paine. Mark Twain: A Biography [ New York: Harper and Brothers, 1912],
  • Alexander Majors, Majors, Seventy Years on the Frontier [ Chicago: Rand McNally, 1893],
  • The Beards' New Basic History of the United States [ Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Co., 1968],
  • Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, ed. Sculley Bradley et al., Norton Critical Edition, 2nd ed. ( New York: Norton, 1977)

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