Superstition In Huckleberry Finn Essay On Lies

Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in Huck Finn and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement for Huckleberry Finn. These thesis statements offer a short summary of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Huck Finn by Mark Twain, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 : The Character of Jim and the Anti-Slavery Theme in Huck Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is absolutely relating a message to readers about the ills of slavery but this is a complex matter. On the one hand, the only truly good and reliable character (and the only one who is free of the hypocritical nature other white characters are plagued by) is Jim who, according to the institution of slavery, is subhuman, thus one has to wonder about the presence of satire in “Huck Finn”. Furthermore, Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn after slavery was made illegal and the choice to set this story in a time when slaves were still held is significant. What truly makes this thesis statement about race and slavery in Huck Finn complex is that there are still several traces of some degree of racism in the novel, including the use of the “n” word (although in Twain's time it was not quite the contentious word it is now with the loaded meaning) and his tendency to paint Jim in some ways that fit the stereotype of a slave (superstitious, consenting, etc.) Despite these issues, for this essay on Huck Finn, argue that the character of Jim as the only righteous and honest character in a sea of white characters who are all greatly flawed proves that Twain wanted to show that despite the “civilized” nature of white society, it is not perfect and slavery, which denies human rights, is a hypocritical institution. For this essay, performing a character analysis of Jim will be vital.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2 : Dark Themes in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn after receiving a great deal of critical and public success from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer but there are several marked differences between Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer as texts. When making a comparison between Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer one almost immediately notices the darker themes and motifs in Huck Finn. Certainly, one could argue in an essay that this was in part due to the tragic path of Mark Twain's life (which just kept getting worse after Tom Sawyer was published) and whether you want to take a biographical approach to this essay or not, you can easily make the argument that there are many dark themes this text addresses. Pap is abusive and drunk, Huck is alone in the world and is stifled by others rather than cared for, families engaged in rivalry actually kill one another, conmen and other criminals abound and generally speaking, the world Huck Finn lives in is a scary place. While there were some darker themes in Tom Sawyer as well, look to the several examples of the dark world Huck lives and in this argumentative essay on Huck Finn, examine the dark themes of slavery, abuse, and dishonesty and decide what Twain was trying to relate in the novel, keeping in mind it is from the viewpoint of a young boy.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3 : Good Intentions and Huck Finn

Throughout the novel by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, there are countless characters who are filled with the best intentions but are generally not doing the best thing for Huck Finn. Judge Thatcher wants to improve the moral condition of Pap (which, of course, backfires and only allows him to torment Huck further) Miss Watson wants to give Huck a “sivilized” upbringing but only suppresses his nature and makes him miserable, and the Phelps family wants to “do the right thing” and return Jim to his owners. The problem with all of these characters is that they are limited by their own view of what is best for others and tend to completely overlook the harm to do others, most notably Huck and Jim. For this argumentative essay on Huck Finn and the role of good intentions, consider how the desire to do the right thing actually points to the hypocrisy of some characters or how good intentions only serve to work against Huck and Jim.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 : Huckleberry Finn and the Notion of Being “Sivilized”

Throughout The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn there is a strong attempt on the part of those who are important in white society to get Huck to conform to certain standards or to attain traits of a civilized person. Miss Watson and Widow Douglass try to give Huck the clean upbringing that a character such as Tom has but this creates a problem because Huck Finn lacks the fundamental basis for having much of a reason for any of these marks of civilization. His father is cruel and malicious and because of his situation, he generally does not need to be told what to do but instead comes to his own decisions based on his firsthand experiences. The most important aspect of this thesis statement about what it means to be “sivilized” in Huck Finn is that the white characters who seek to “improve” him are not always the best people. In other words, Huck is given nothing but contradictory ideas about what kind of boy he should be. For this thesis statement and essay on Huck Finn, perform a character analysis of Huck in which you look at his reaction to influences trying civilize him versus influences that teach him about life from first-hand experience.

For additional help, be sure to read the following articles. They should help you develop new thesis statements and expand upon those listed here: Class and Satire in “The American” by Henry James and “Huck Finn” by Mark Twain and
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Free Essay on Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Cruelness

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Cruelness in Adventures Of Huck Finn

 

                     Throughout the tale of Huckleberry Finn as told by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), almost every character for his or her own reasons lies. This can be considered a commentary on the morality and ethics of man kind by Mr. Clemens. Almost no person exists that has never uttered at lease one untruth. That is one of the wonderful things about this novel. It closely mimics real life. There are characters that lie for personal gain. There are also those that lie only in hopes of helping others. Though both are lies, one can be considered courteous or even heroic at times, where the other can only appear greedy and wrong no matter what light it is viewed in. Mark Twain often uses the river to denote freedom and purity, however just as many lies are told on the river as off. This is because Twain doesn't make the assumption that all lies are wicked, and can thus attach them to his symbol of pure good. Practically every "good" character in Huckleberry Finn lies. Huck himself lies on almost countless occasions. Miss Watson lies on at least one occasion. Jim tells several lies during the tale. Tom Sawyer is practically unable to speak the truth. Yet none of these characters are seen as morally corrupt. The villainous characters lie on a constant basis in the course of the story. The king makes lying an art at times, while the duke lies without pause for his entire appearance in the story. Pap makes up numerous tales during his time in the book. All these characters are considered evil and wrongdoers. The difference is the fact that the latter characters lie in hopes of personal gain, while the first characters lie to help others, or in order to entertain. Nearly every character lies in Huckleberry Finn; it is their motivation for their lies that defines their character to the reader. Huckleberry himself tells many a lie during the story. Perhaps his biggest lie is when he fakes his own death, and makes the whole town look for his "dead carcass" (Clemens 32). This caused the widow and Miss Watson a terrible amount of heartache and concern.

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He also helped Jim escape by telling men on a passing boat that the man on his raft was his father who "got the small pox" rather than a run away slave (Clemens 75). Although the first lie hurt some people, the reader interprets it as Huck's only choice and therefore doesn't "mark him as a bad person" (Miner 23). The perception of Huck is that of a hero, so no matter the moral choices he makes, we tend to see him as such. Miss Watson, a picture of Godliness tells a terrible lie. She swore to Jim that he wouldn't "sell him down to New Orleans," while she had full intention to until he ran off (Clemens 39). This lie was the type that held gain for Miss Watson, but negative affects for others namely Jim. Yet even though she is seen as somewhat of an ogre until she eventually releases Jim, she is not seen as one of the villainous characters of the book for this lie. This has to do mostly with her being introduced with Huck's interests apparently as her main concern by giving him directions for his own good such as "sit up straight" and the like (Clemens 8). By being brought into the reader's view as a role model, the cruel lie she told is diminished and barley even dwelled upon by most readers. Tom Sawyer is a professional liar. Tom however is considered imaginative rather than a liar for the most part. He is known well for his lies amongst the other characters. When Huck fakes his own death, Jim comments that "Tom Sawyer couldn't get up no better plan" since Tom is constantly lies (Clemens 39). Tom also takes part in the scheme to steal Jim out of captivity; the whole time lying to Huck that Jim isn't free when he knows perfectly well that Miss Watson freed Jim on her deathbed. Tom's character is a diabolical liar and is yet seen only as a mischief-maker and not a true threat to anyone. Even the lovable innocent Jim will lie for personal gain. His "innocence is lost" when he successfully scams unwitting Huck (Miner 21). He manages to trick Huck out of a quarter for the use of his "magic hairball" that tells the future (Clemens 19). This lie was only designed to get Huck's money, not to hurt anyone. This and the fact that Jim is practically ignorant account for his being a "hero" in the story even though he lies to his friend and steals himself out of slavery. The King and the Duke are dubbed villains for their lies. Even the only names the reader is able to call them by are frauds. The "Duke", purely to receive preferential treatment from Huck and Jim claims he is a descendant of the "Duke of Bridgewater" (Clemens 100). Inspired by the duke's lie, the king tells his own tale. He claims to be the long lost "King of France" "Dauphin" (Clemens 101). This is clearly not true to everyone except for trusting old Jim. Huck however treats them as royalty so as not to anger them. These men only lied in order to escape work and receive favors from Jim and Huck. They later deceive entire towns with their makeshift theatre presentation "The Royal Nonesuch" for financial gain (Clemens 121). Also they play with the emotions of two girls that recently lost their uncle in order to steal his money. The king and the duke lie only to "please themselves", this is why, unlike other liars throughout the story, they are pegged as the criminals and eventually ridden out of town on a rail (Miner 24). The river and the shore often have meanings in Huckleberry Finn. The river can represent purity and freedom. The shore almost always represents the things that are wrong with society and captivity. Even so, both contain an equal amount of lies. This suggests that the lies themselves are not necessarily evil, so much as the person telling them may be. The king and duke lie to Huck on the river on many occasions. This illustrates the fact that all the characters lie; it is just a question of their character that denotes the nature of the lie. Had all lies in the story been evil, Clemens never would have had any occur on the utopian Mississippi. While all characters and for the most part all people lie, it is the motivation behind the lie and the moral fiber of the person telling it that causes harm or good. The fact that a character in the story lies does not make them a bad or evil character, simply more realistic. The focus of Clemens through the social graces of his characters and their dialects was to create a true to life story. By adding the complexity of honesty to good or evil ends greatly contributes to this theme of realism.



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