The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Role of Women in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn shows a view of women that was widely accepted by society during the period the novel portrays. All of Huck Finn’s women, who are alternatively scorned, mistrusted and venerated by the title character, have one obvious similarity: they are aliens, creatures with some foreign mind and spirit to those of Huck. These women fall into three categories: sweet young girls, mother figures, and old women. Huck’s relationship with each group is different, but he piles all three together with typical stereotypes about the abilities and limitations of women. Huck views women not as fellow humans, but as well-meaning nuisances or childlike creatures who need taking care of, with good hearts but not enough intelligence to understand his world. However, although Huck’s perspective of women is limited, women are critical to the novel because they bring compassion to the cold world into which Huck has fallen.

The young women of Huck Finn share common features: they are loving, pious, innocent, and gullible to the point of foolishness. Mary Jane Wilks and her two sisters are the epitome of Twain’s hyperbole of girls: kind, trusting, and naïve. The poor act put on by the king and duke fools them at...

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