The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

What does the incident with Boggs and Colonel Sherburn illustrate about human nature in chapter 22?


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Twain again provides commentary on human nature and presents a scathing portrayal of society. Twain's 'version' of Shakespeare, Boggs's death, Jim's feelings about his family, and the Royal Nonesuch all seek to provoke the reader into analyzing the foolish ways of society. Huck assists in this encouragement by adding commentary that brings Twain's critiques into sharper focus.

The use of Shakespeare is at once funny and tragic. In describing the butchered Hamlet's soliloquy, it is immediately obvious that the Duke has muddled the lines. Moreover, the vision of the King, with his white hair and whiskers, playing fair Juliet makes even more of a mockery of the plays.

Boggs's death focuses the reader's attention on a much more serious aspect of the society. Boggs is shot to death in front of a crowd of people, including his daughter. The disrespect Boggs showed to Colonel Sherburn hardly justifies murder. Twain further derides the society for is cowardly actions, as the mob ready to lynch Sherburn is easily manipulated and succumbs to cowardice.