Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, is a highly satirical novel that challenges the moral values of people in the late nineteenth century. Although published in 1885, the issues that Twain addresses throughout the novel still apply even in today’s society. Much of the sarcasm is blatant, . However, to see the complexity of Twain’s efforts to address his revulsion towards society, readers must delve into the novel and attempt to comprehend the meanings interlaced between gruff grammar and difficult dialect.
The main issue that Twain addresses throughout Huckleberry Finn is hypocrisy throughout religion. Although Twain addresses the hypocrisy of religion as a whole, his strategy is to focus on attacking Christianity, which was originally referred to in the late 1800s as “orthodoxy”. During this period in history, there were many challenges facing Christianity, and many people, Twain himself included, became skeptical. About this time, Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution, many European scholars began to analyze the Bible from a literary point of view, and theological liberals attempted to force Christianity to conform to the ways of society. These attempted movements caused great struggles in Twain’s life involving his religion, and his faith-based difficulties came out through the character of young Huck Finn.
Another issue addressed through satire by Twain is the Romanticism era in literature, which took place approximately from 1830-1845. Twain directly attacked Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish novelist, playwright, and poet. Huck abandons a group of people on a wrecked steamboat, and finds a captain to save them. The captain asks, “What, you don't mean the Walter Scott?” referring to the steamboat. Also, with Tom Sawyer doing everything “by the book,” Twain expresses the conformity of Romanticism, where things can be done one and only specific way.
The third point that Twain ridicules through Huckleberry Finn is superstition. Throughout the novel, the word “luck” comes into play, ironically often after prayer. A vague example of superstition is the many times that Jim mentions the “witches” that surround him, which is only magnified by the that he wears on a chain around his neck. Twain recognizes the incredible pull that superstition has on many people’s lives, almost to the point of religious practice, and he mocks it. Jim talks about how the “witches” who gave him the nickel “rode [him] all over the world,” [k. Also, this is a satirical swipe at the gullibility of people in society.
The fourth and final point that Twain satirizes is “sivilization.” This issue coincides with the issue of religious hypocrisy throughout the novel, being expressed by the Grangerford-Shepherdson feud, and the Phelps’s. Throughout the beginning chapters, Twain describes the futile attempts by both Miss Watson and the widow to “sivilize” young Huckleberry Finn. These attempts prove to be in vain, as Huck remains rambunctious as ever. Finally, however, the reader establishes that Huck is truly the civilized one, as he is the only one who treats humankind as a race, not a color.
Throughout the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain addresses the issues of society in the late 1800s through slicing satire and crude criticism. Twain’s humorous approach to the severity of the shame that society should experience is oftentimes overlooked, and the story is seen as simply an adventure. However, the true satirical meaning under the literary surface is obvious when looked for, which was Twain’s exact goal.