The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Twain's Women

"American literature is male. To read the canon of what is currently considered classic American literature is perforce to identify as male; Our literature neither leaves women alone nor allows them to participate." Judith Fetterley (Walker, 171)

Mark Twain's writings fall under this criticism in the minds of many a literary critic, especially those of the feminist mentality. As far as Twain's art is concerned, the charges against him on this front are familiar ones: his women characters tend to be severely limited, stereotypical, and flat. Meanwhile, all of his truly interesting and more fully rounded characters - with some key exceptions - are male. (Fishkin, 58) But it would be a mistake to equate the limited range of roles Twain gave women in his work with the idea that women were of limited importance in Twain's mind. Twain's relationships with women, both in his life and in his writing, were far more complicated and interesting than this narrow image conveys. (Fishkin, 53)

Mary Ellen Goad defined the role that Twain wished women to play in his own life in order to illuminate his creation of female characters:

Twain viewed the role of the female in a particular, and, to the modern mind, strange way....

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