Satire in Huck Finn

Akshay Upadhyaya

Satire is defined as a kind of literature that ridicules human folly or vice with the purpose of bringing about reform or of keeping others from falling into similar folly or vice. Mark Twain used satire in Huck Finn to show mankind’s shortcomings, namely inhumanity and gullibility. Satire was also used to show that religion did not appeal to everyone.

An example of religious satire could be found in the beginning of the book. Huck was confused about religion, and thought that one could get whatever one prayed for; however, Huck saw that he was not getting everything he prayed for, hooks, for example, were things he prayed for but did not get. This led him to believe that religion was weird and incomprehensible. Then there were the two definitions of heaven, Widow Douglas’ and Miss Watson’s. Huck thought that he would like the Widow’s heaven, but not Ms. Watson’s. This was probably Twain’s way of lampooning the various sects of Christianity, all the sects believe in heaven, yet each one has its own version of it. Twain might wish to see all the sects of Christianity unite under into one.

The blood feud between the Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons epitomized the inhumanity of humans. Both the families fought a deadly fight over a long forgotten dispute, and the final battle killed all of the Grangerfords, even young Buck. Twain might have included this episode in his to argue against blood feuds, and maybe dueling in general, as being a senseless waste of life.

There were many gullible people in the novel, but the most gullible were the Wilks girls. They believed that the king and the duke were their uncles, even though Doc Robinson said otherwise. Twain is satirizing the fact that some people do not listen to sound advice and are fleeced by connivers, as the Wilks girls almost were. Twain might used satire to stop the inhumanity and maybe make people a little wiser by becoming less gullible.