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The Pessimism in the Adventure of Huckleberry Finn

Author LiangYaZuo
Tutor BaiXueLian
School Beijing Forestry University
Course English Language and Culture
Keywords pessimistic negative view Mark Twain the Adventure of Huckleberry Finn
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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There has been a tendency among the critics to read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a novel in which Mark Twain portrays a boy who undergoes a moral growth through his adventures. The protagonist Huck has become an image of those who break away from the corrupted society and its conventional morality, and Jim is one of the slaves who bravely fight for personal freedom. The "happy" ending of the story and the humor in the book seem to justify such interpretations. However, I believe that, despite the humor Mark Twain employs, he is somewhat pessimistic and expresses his negative view in the novel.The author of this thesis first of all elaborately analyses Mark Twain’s three brilliant thematic paradoxes of the novel:paradox of civilization, paradox of freedom and paradox of life (rebirth vs. death). Through consummately approaching of these thematic paradoxes, this novel uncovers the hypocritical veil of the deformed social "civilization", reflects human beings’ instinctive pursuit of ideal freedom. Exposed to the social conscience and the hypocrisy of morality, the social individuals cannot escape its indoctrination. Thus the conflict between the hypocritical social conscience and noble human nature forges the paradoxical doubleness of characters in the novel. In such a malformed society, the evil slavery of all vices oppresses the Black to conceal their inherent nature without choice. They have to wear a gullible mask of fools as the only means of surviving. This further indicates the pessimism of Mark Twain in this novel.The thesis further discusses Mark Twain’s pessimism and negative view towards human nature and social institutions such as law and religion. Then the author expounds Mark Twain’s negative pessimism reflected by virtue of some techniques he employs in the novel. The dark and gloomy atmosphere and the circular structure of the novel reinforce Twain’s pessimistic and negative view about man’s future.Finally, the thesis makes an exploration of the possible sources of Mark Twain’s pessimism and negative view reflected.

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