The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

King of Kings: A Comparative Analysis of the Linkage Between Kingship and Slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn College

One of the most celebrated novels in the entire American literary canon, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often noted particularly for the way in which it handles slavery and race-relations, both in its successes and its failures. Perhaps the most famous scene in this context—indeed, the most famous in the whole book and one of the most well-known in 19th century literature—is the section where Huck seems to reject the institution of slavery he has always lived in and sides with Jim, memorable stating “All right, then. I’ll go to hell” (Twain 280). While this passage with its morally righteous note of finality is certainly pleasing to guilt-bearing white readers, it does not address how Huck came to this realization. In order to understand that, one must look much earlier in the text at a section that may seem innocuous at first glance: Huck’s and Jim’s discussions of kings (114). It is by talking about royalty that both characters come to realize fundamental things about slavery that they could not see previously, due to their existence within the system. Through their conversations, Twain weaves a very subtle idea: that the relationship between kings and their subjects is of the exact same form and substance...

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