Human Nature: Exposed


More than a century ago, Mark Twain probably composed the single-most
important piece of American Literature to ever be composed. This work, widely
known as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, essentially follows young Huck on a
series of adventures and experiences with his close friend (and runaway slave),
Jim, as they both escape society\'s burdens. The novel, in a sense, encompasses
everything good, bad and in between about and concerning the society of that
time. A majority of the novel takes place along the Mississippi river, with
Young Huck, and Jim each striving to attain a common goal, freedom from the woes
of society. In their journey, they come across many different people, and
encounter many strange and new experiences that all relate to a common theme
that is evident throughout the novel. As their journey progresses, the reader
witnesses many horrific and surprising acts, all performed by none other than
man himself. Looking deeper into the symbolistic meaning of many of these
passages reveals that man, in essence , is cruel, silly, and hypocritical in
nature.
Through his writing, it becomes apparent that Twain supports the
thematic idea of the human race being hypocritical. For instance, take the
scene in Chapter 20 where a group of people in Arkansas are listening to the
sermon of a preacher. In this descriptive passage, it can be inferred through
Twain\'s writing that the average person of this time was in fact "blinded" by
religious influences. The significance of this event can be observed later on
in Chapter 21 where Twain describes the horrific abuse of animals. "There
couldn\'t anything wake them up all over, and make them happy all over, like a
dog-fight--unless it might be putting turpentine on a stray dog and setting fire
to him..." (Twain 140). In putting the two preceding passages in perspective a
distinctive irony becomes visible. The same type of individuals whom practice
religion in good faith turn around and perform cruel acts to animals, for sport
of all things. This is hypocritical because the basis of religion is definitely
not to support or defend such acts, but that doesn\'t seem to have any adverse
affect upon the average person who is merely "blinded" by glamour of religion
and what it stands for, not having any intention of carrying out it\'s plight.
So all said and done, Twain wanted to make it clear to the reader in a subtle
way that these two scenes, in conjunction support the statement that Twain\'s
writing makes the human race out as hypocritical in nature.
In addition of Twain using the experiences that Huck and Jim undergo to
illustrate that man is hypocritical, he uses these experiences to show us that
man is cruel and savage as well. Take, for instance this quote from Huck after
he witnesses the massacre of the Grangerfords by the Shepardsons. "It made me
so sick I most fell out of the tree. I ain\'t a-going to tell all that happened-
-it would make me sick again if i was to do that" (Twain 115). That particular
excerpt merely illustrates to the reader what savage acts humans are capable
of doing. The horrific acts that humans commit become that much more disturbing
when it can be shown that such violence has no reason or justification. Twain
tells that to us when Huck is asking Buck Grangerford about when the feud all
started. "Oh, yes, pa knows, I reckon and some of the other old people; but
they don\'t know what the row was about in the first place" (Twain 108). The
mere thought of such senseless killing, for reason which aren\'t even known by
the ones fighting, is quite disturbing to say the least. Twain most likely
included this in the novel in order to show us what makes humans so savage and
cruel, to kill without reason.
The instances in which Twain, through his writing, exemplifies mankind
as cruel are not limited to the ones described in the proceeding. The instance
in chapter 30, where the Duke and King sell Jim to Mr. Phelps for 40 dollars
illustrates what cruel acts man will resort to just to attain personal wealth.
The following quote illustrates how the Duke and Kings cruelty impacted Huck.
"...but it warn\'t no use--Jim was gone. Then i set down and cried; I couldn\'t
help it." (Twain 211). There\'s only so much one can say about instances like
this, only that it is beyond comprehension how the Duke and King live with
themselves after the acts they perform. Perhaps the old saying "what goes
around comes