MARK TWAIN: LIFE AND WORKSamuel Langhorne Clemens better known by his penname Mark Twain was born in Florida on 30November 1835. He was the sixth of seven childrenbut only three of his siblings survived childhood, hisbrother Orion, Henry, who died in ariverboat explosion,and Pamela.His sister Margaretdied when he was three,and his brother Benjaminthree years later another brother Pleasant died at sixmonth. When he was four, Twains family movedto Hannibal Missouri, a port town on the MississippiRiver that inspired the fictional town of St.Petersburgin “THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER” and“ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN”. Missouriwas a slave state and young Twain became familiarwith the istitution of slavery, a theme he would laterexplore in his writing.When he was 11 his father diedof pneumonia.
The next year he became a printers apprentice. Twain began his career as awriter of humorous verse for the “hannibal journal”,a newspapaer owned by his brotherOnion.But then he left “hannibal journal” and worked as a printer in New YorkCity,Philadelphia and St.Louis. Then he became a steamboat pilot. Samuel convinced hisyounger brother Henry to work with him. Henry was killed in 1858. Twain had foreseen thisdeath in a dream, which inspired his interest in parapsychology.Twains journey ended in thesilver-mining town of Virginia City, where he became a miner. But he failed as a miner andworked at a Virginia City newspaper, the territorial enterprise. His first success was “TheCelebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“ that it brought him national attention. Twainmarried Olivia Langdon they had three daughters:Susy,Clara and Jean they lived in Buffalobut then they moved to Quarry Farm the home of Olivias sister, here Twain wrote many ofhis classic novels such us:”The adventures of Tom Sawyer”, “the Prince and thePauper”,“Life on the Mississippi” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.Twain wasfascinated with science and technology in fact in "A Connecticut Yankee in King ArthursCourt” he used his knowledge of science to introduce modern technologyto Arthurian England. He was ostracized for his criticism to American imperialism, in facthe was an active member of the Anti-Imperialist League, founded in 1898.For his anti-imperialist positions, Mark Twain suffered a real marginalization in the last years, in factmany of his anti-imperialist writings were totally ignored and were not republished afterhis death.Twain was a Presbyterian and he was irreverent toward conventional religion; hewrote for example:“If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be-a Christian."His own experiences and suffering of his family made him particularly critical of "faithhealing". Twain passed through a period of deep depression, which began in 1896 when hisdaughter Susy died, Olivias death in 1904 and Jeans in 1909.He died on April 21, 1910.
The plotThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), talks about a young boy, Huck, insearch of freedom and adventures. The shores of the Mississippi River providethe backdrop for the entire book. The novel opens with Huck telling his story.In ”The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, which preceded this novel., Huck and Tomdiscovered sixth thousand dollars in treasure, and Judge Thatcher invested themoney for them. Huck was adopted by the Widow Douglas and Miss Watson,they try to civilize him, Dissatisfied with his new life, because he is a rebelliousboy, Huck runs away. Tom Sawyer convinces him to return home. But thenHuck is kidnapped by Pap, his drunken father. Pap kidnaps Huck because hewants Hucks $6000. Judge Thatcher and the Widow Douglas try to obtain thecustody of Huck, but a new judge in town refuses to separate Huck from hisfather. Pap steals Huck away from the Widows house and takes him to a logcabin. At first Huck enjoys the cabin life, but after receiving frequent beatings,he decides to escape. When Pap goes into town, Huck seizes the opportunity.He kills a pig, spreads the blood as if it were his own, takes a canoe and hidesin the island of Jackson where he finds Jim the black slave of Miss Watson thatAfter overhearing the Widows plan to sell him to a slave trader,he ranaway. Jim is happy to see Huck because everyone think he is dead.
At one point, an entire house floats near them. Huck and Jim climb aboard to see what they cansalvage and find a dead man, Jim inspects the body and realizes it is Pap, Hucks father. Jim keepsthis information a secret. Then Huck returns to the town disguised as a girl to gather some news.While talking with a woman, he learns that both Jim and Pap are suspects in his murder so theydecide to leave the island.. Their goal is to reach Cairo, where they can take a steamship up theOhio River and into the free states. However, during a dense fog, they are separated. When theyfind each other in the morning, they realize that they have passed Cairo. A steamboat crashes intotheir raft and Jim and Huck are separated again .Huck finds the shore and is immediatelysurrounded by dogs. After managing to escape, he is invited to live with a family called theGrangerfords. At the Grangerford home, Huck is treated well and discovers that Jim is hiding in anearby swamp. Everything is peaceful until an old family feud between the Grangerfords and theShepherdsons is rekindled. Within one day all the men in the Grangerford family are killed,including Hucks new friend, Buck..Huck runs back to Jim, and together they start downriver again.Then they met two humbugs known as the Duke and the King, the two men learn about a largeinheritance meant for three recently orphaned girls. To steal the money, the men pretend to be thegirls British uncles. But the girls are very nice so Huck decide to help girls to discover the truth,their deception was discovered but they escape before they are caught. Farther down the river, theKing and Duke sell Jim into slavery, Huck decides to rescue Jim, and goes to the house where Jimis being kept. Luckily, the house is owned by Tom Sawyers Aunt : Sally. Tom and Huck manage torescue Jim. Finally Jim is really a free men because the Widow is dead and freed him in her will.Jim tells Huck to stop worrying about his Pap and reveals that the dead man in the floating housewas in fact Hucks father. Aunt Sally offers to adopt Huck, but he refuses because is not his way oflife.
The charactersHuckleberry Finn: Maincharacter of the book. He is anillegitimate child who runs awayfrom his adopted family to befree from society andcivilization. Huck is TomSawyers sidekick, and Tom isHucks best friend. Throughspending so much time withJim, and some of his otherexperiences along the river,Huck reveals a strong sense ofhumanity even with the Dukeand King.
He is irresponsible, playful,and crude. He wants thingsmust to be exactly as they arein the adventure books, hereads. Tom is not physicallypresent for most of the tale,but Huck refers to himfrequently. Huck is much moresensible andmature than Tom: Also heconsiders Jim a friend insteadof a runaway slave, Tom haslittle concern for others.
Miss Watsons slave. Heruns away and journeysdown the Mississippi Riverwith Huck. Together, theyhave many adventures, andHuck becomes best friendswith Jim. He issuperstitious,sentimental, fatherly, kindand protective. His clothesare tattered and hisappearance is not very goodbecause he is a runawayslave without manyclothes. His purpose is tocause Huck to see slaves aspeople.
Hucks drunkard father. Hekidnaps Huck because hewants his money foralcohol, but Huck escapes.The illiterate Papdisapproves of Huck’seducation and beats himfrequently. Pap representsboth the generaldebasement of whitesociety and the failure offamily structures in thenovel.
Two wealthy sisters who live together in abig house in St. Petersburg and adopt Huck.The severe Miss Watson is the mostreligious in fact she tries to teach Huckreligion and how to spell, Twain criticizesthis aspect in the novel. The Widow Douglasis more kind than her sister and has morepatience with Huck. In fact Huck respectsWidow Douglas and wants to please her.Even after he’s run away, he often considersher opinion before acting.
The king is the older of the twocon artists that Jim and Huck takeon their raft. When they stealinheritance money of Peter Wilksthe King takes the active role whilethe Duke acts the part of a deaf-mute. Both the King and the Dukeare important characters in Huck’smoral growth. As Huck observesthem, he is able to judge that whatthey do is wrong, and learnaccordingly by negative example.
The smallest son of the Grangerfordfamily. Huck becomes good friendswith Buck. He and Huck have similaradventurous natures and imaginativeminds, but Buck is used to havingslaves wait on him, while Huck ismore self-sufficient. Buck gets killedin the battle with the Shepardsons.Huck is especially devastated byBuck’s death.
The themes :1. There is an emphasis on the river as a haven fromsociety and a source for adventure. Huck travelsdown the river and is provided tools such as the raft.Huck is separate from the surrounding areas andseparate from civilization.2. There is a theme of growth and rebirth in Huckthroughout the story. After each adventure, Hucklearns something new and become a new person.3. Another theme in the story is that society is wrong.As Huck travels down the river, he learns and doesmany things that are contrary to the beliefs of societysuch as helping the slave escape. He also learns theidea that black people are people, too, despite theteachings of society.
The Language andstyleTwain’s style is simple, informal and conveys his ideas ina boyish mood. He gives his complex observations onsociety through the eyes and through the speech of ayoung boy out for adventure So his diction is typical ofthe southern speech. He also pays close attention to thediction of the speech of the various people from thevarious areas down the river.Twain wrote the novel twenty years later the abolition ofslavery but he set the story in that period, perhaps to showthat if blacks are no longer slaves their condition of life hasnot changed