Sunday, 25 August 2019

Huckleberry Finn as a Picaresque novel , Picaresque tradition of Huckleberry Finn notes, Mark twain


Q) Discuss Huckleberry Finn as a picaresque Novel ?
Q) Picaresque tradition in Huckleberry Finn ?

Huckleberry Finn as a Picaresque novel , Picaresque tradition of Huckleberry Finn notes, Mark twain



Originally a contribution of the Spanish literature , this literary genre is believed to have flourished in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries . Henry Fielding's Tom Jones and Joseph Andrews are popular instances of this variety .

The picaresque technique is a literary one that recounts the exploits of a central character who is more of an anti-hero . He lives a vagabond life and declares his contempt for the society that he is part of. Here , it is worth mentioning that the principal character is both a part of society as well as detached from it . He is part of the mainstream society , in so far as he lives in it , physically , he is also detached from society so far as he underlines all that is incongruous and disagreeable in society .

Besides a realistic portrayal and disparagement of contemporary society , the structure of the picaresque Novel is episodic in nature . There is no definite link or connection between the various episodes and scenes in the scheme of things . They took place as isolated incidents and have no thread of commonality with the remaining story .

Huckleberry Finn as a Picaresque novel , Picaresque tradition of Huckleberry Finn notes, Mark twain


The Spanish writer , Cervantes 'Don Quixote' is believed to have had the chief influence on Mark Twain during the writing of Huckleberry Finn. In Don Quixote, the hero imagines a small group of merchants to be a large crowd of people whom he must overpower .
In much the same strain Tom Sawyer, in chapter 2 of Huckleberry Finn imagines a group of school children enjoying a sunday school picnic , to be Arab merchants . There is another parallel that of Don Quixote comrade Sancho Panza with Hucks subordinate,the nigger Jim . In line with what has been discussed above , Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn borrows ingredients from the genre of picaresque Twain portrays Huck as the anti-hero; he is 'low-born' and belongs to the lowest of "white" ,"civilized" society. True to the concept of a customary picaresque hero ,he makes his revulsion with society quite evident and wishes to live by his own standard. An orphan ,he is adopted by widow Douglas ,another element of this "white" society that he distrust. He hungers after freedom , physical as well as spiritual from the fetters of what he considers the baseness of human beings of this society. 

In much the same vein Twain ,in the novel under discussion, satirizes the hollowness of "civilized" society as Huck and probably Twain sees it .

The novel speaks of his adventures,not on the road as a Joseph Andrews,but on the great river Mississippi,on board a raft.  During his journey,he meets a myriad of characters and undergoes an array of experience with them . These incidents are not , in any way  ,connected to the previous one . The only instances of continuity and unity is the fact that the raft forms the link between the various episodes in the novel . Huck goes to the various towns and villages on shore , gets a taste of his adventures and finally comes back to the raft each time , to be reunited with his friend and companion , Jim .

The journey of Huck and Jim , down the river Mississippi forms the bulk of the novel , it is the theme of escape that drives these two characters to undertake this journey .Huck feels guilty for having had a hand though unintentionally, in the drowning of the robbers and tries to help them .

Huck and Jim's interaction with the Duke and Dauphin is independent of any other episode in the novel . Besides revealing the malice and hypocrisy of human beings. It doesn't serve any purpose in so far as unity or coherence of plot is concerned. Similarly,the killing of Buck or the murder of Buck is not connected in any way to this main theme of freedom. When buck is killed , there is not much that follows around except for a few minutes of mourning over his dead friend.

Huck goes on with his life , in a quest for his most sought after goal . The sole purpose is to draw attention to the quality of life in this so called refined society .
The only uniformity ,which is striking in the novel is the novelist perception and census of the society that we live in . These episodes merely serve to underscore the novelist , Mark Twain , resentment of the behaviour and conduct of inhabitants of society. Last , but not least , the novelist chastise society for its mob mutuality,for being fundamentally cowards .


It would therefore,not be an exaggeration to say in the words of Paine ,that certainly it (The adventures of huckleberry Finn) is more convincing,more human than other takes of the same genre . Robert Louis Stevenson commanded the book saying "it is a book I have read four times and i am quite ready to begins again tomorrow".

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