Humor in Huckleberry Finn 1

Humor in Huckleberry FinnHumor in Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain’s humor is clearly rooted in American humor. It has been enjoyed by readers from all continents and centuries, which shows its universality. The story is full of humor through lies, deceptions and plot machinations, prevarications by Tom and Huck, and the superstitious beliefs and beliefs of Jim, the primitive character. The novel is a masterwork of humor, farce, and satire. According to Twain, a humorous story ends with a twist that causes irony in the narrative. Twain’s irony is unpredicted by casual readers.

Breton (1972) states that there are two kinds of humor in the novel. One is pure fantasy, which is completely spontaneous. The other is more thoughtful and tinged by seriousness. Twain didn’t want to or made no effort to mix fantasy into his text and he didn’t look for originality in this genre.

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Breton added that Twain follows the Western humorist’s well-established traditions in terms of his themes and techniques. Twain’s irresistible nerves and boisterous high spirits, as well as his excellent handling of language, contribute to American humor. His humor is still the West’s rough laughter, the vast joking of the miners’ camp that relaxes nerves after hard days of labor.

A humorous humor that is too often solely verbal and in any case temporary; a contest for absurdity where the participants demonstrate their creativity in spinning amazing yarns. The other kind of humor is completely different. Because it comes from the depths of the Twain’s personality, it isn’t affected or superficial. The fantasy becomes a comic mask of common sense that imposes its rules upon the imagination.

This is not a joke. The amusing apology which incites laughter castigates morals and manners. This humor is already satire. It’s the tool that the author allegedly uses to attack society’s outlooks and ways of thinking. It is full of bitterness and grudges.

It is easy to recognize the complex and passionate personality of Mark Twain. Sterne is a reference point in some passages. There is the same understanding of human nature and the same appreciation for nuances. Both humor types are important and should be used. Twain can be seen as either an adult who delights in the simplexes of his heart and tells a lot of lies, or a sentimentalist who hides his deep pessimism under the humor. “If men have to laugh together to forget their hardships,” (Breton 1972, p. 35).

What is humor?

We could simply say that Humor is found in oddity and the perception of incongruity. This incongruity could be between the real and the ideal, between what seems real and what is actually there, or between language modes and the vernacular.

This insight is especially relevant for Huckleberry Finn, as a major concern of the novel is the exposure, exposure and pretenses and artificiality in anti-bellum societies. Although there is much comedy, it has been primarily used to attack, amuse comment, and satire.

Twain’s flame is mainly a lambent one that plays with social institutions and practices, but not burn them. Sometimes it can scorch them too, but never turns them into ashes. The discussion was arranged using humour, which is based on character, situation, and language.

Humour in Character Huck: A lot of the humor in the book is due to Mark Twain’s selection of a 14 year-old narrator, and the qualities he bestows on him. These points can be made. These points have been mentioned before.

We have said that Huck is an “unreliable” narrator. This means that he doesn’t always get the whole picture. Irony can lead to humor from this gap in understanding. Huck’s inept response to grace is a sign that he doesn’t understand its traditional significance. He is now able to DE-acquaint himself with the practice, even though he still questions its intrinsic value. His response to Widow Douglas’ formula about praying is the same.

Huck’s innocent questioning Buck brings out the insanity of the feud killings. The Granger ford parlor description and Huck’s praise of Emmeline are both full of criticism and naivety. Huck is Huck’s source of humor, and Twain does not share that sense. Huck, much like his creator’s deadpan expression on the lecture platform stage, keeps a straight face and almost never breaks into laughter. Huck laughs only when he sees the naked king dancing on the stage. Huck is also not known for losing his temper.

This allows the 111 humor of the situation to shine through to the reader. This is evident in the clever lies Huck uses to get out of difficult situations repeatedly. These situations are made more funny because Huck, a fragile character who survives in the hostile world of adults thanks to his wit, is hilarious. We also have the childishness and almost always failing invention of a child.

Twain puts Huck in the mold of Eiron, an ancient Greek comic character. Eiron is a character who is self-deprecating and believes he is more than he really is. Two episodes deal with Huck’s dilemma about whether or not to free Jim. Humour in Situation Humour has been discussed in various contexts before. There are many scenes that are great examples of humour, in character, context and language. One example of such a scene is the speech given by the King at Wilk’s house. It has already been analyzed.

Humor in Huckleberry FinnHumor in Huckleberry Finn : Language

Huck’s use words such as “grumble” to refer to grace practice has been mentioned before. Humour is another funny word he uses to refer to the tears shed by fraudsters: issues “I never saw two men leak like they did” (25, 189).

Malapropisms are always entertaining. Twain follows the lead of rile literary comedians and uses malapropisms such as e.g. Diseased for the dead (25, 193). The doctor tells the patient to “confront” him: We’ll take them to the tavern, and we’ll affront them with t’other couple. . .” (29:224).

The attempt by the king to explain etymologically how he used orgies for obsequies is hilarious and audacious. Orgies I don’t say because it’s common, but because it is the correct term. . . . It’s a word made out’n of the Greek orgo (outside, open, overseas); and the Hebrew jeesum (to plant, cover up). Funeral orgies, as you can see, is an ‘open er public funeral’ (25.) Ironically, Huck misunderstands the term mumps and then attempts to explain it to Susan and the Harelip at Wilks’ house as something very serious, he tie himself up in knots. (28:2 19)

What is the best way to highlight issues in the book?

Humor in Huckleberry Finn: hypocrisy

Twain uses humor as a way to highlight religious hypocrisy. Miss Watson, Finn’s teacher, decides to teach Huck about religious matters and how to act if one wants to go to heaven. Ironically, she also owns slaves. She doesn’t believe in slavery, but she still owns slaves.

Huck is prohibited from smoking in Chapter 1 by the Widow, which is a humorous example of her being funny two-faced. Huck had asked her whether she could smoke, and she said that it was “a mean practice and wasn’t clean.” Huck was able to justify the Widow smoking. Huck said, “And she also took snuff; it was all right, she did it herself.”

Humor in Huckleberry Finn: Sarcastic

Huck’s Aunt Sally, Mrs. Phelps mistakenly thinks Huck is her relative Tom Sawyer. Huck tells Mrs. Phelps a story about a steamboat explosion and claims that it was so deadly that a black man had died. Mrs. Phelps replied with “lucky that no one was hurt.” It was a racist comment. This is an example for understating.

Humor in Huckleberry Finn: Comedic Humor

Chapter 33 is when Tom pretends to be someone else and kisses Aunt Sally. He starts to shout at her, as she is shocked at his actions. Tom tells a story about how the locals told Tom to do it. The argument is closed by Tom saying “N’m,” which means he’s honest about the matter and vows to never do it again. “Until you ask me,” sets off a new argument. With this kind of humor, Twain keeps readers’ attention.

The humorous story is told with graveness; the teller tries to hide the fact that he suspects there is something funny about it. But the teller tells you in advance that it is one the most hilarious things he has ever heard. He then tells the story with great delight and is the first to laugh when he finishes.

Humor in Huckleberry FinnHumor in Huckleberry Finn:  Religion

Okay, then I’ll go into hell.

Huck wishes that he was in hell.

Huck realizes that the Widow plans to go to Heaven and decides to avoid her. He will instead join Tom Sawyer in the bad place, where he is happy to be with him.

Huck claims that Miss Watson took her in the closet and asked for prayers, but nothing came of it. “She told me to pray every single day and that whatever I asked for, I would get it.” (Twain 10). Twain uses this as a way to mock Christian beliefs. Huck appears to have concluded that praying to God is futile if there is nothing to gain.

Humor in Huckleberry Finn: Parody

The most obvious example of parodies is in the exploits made by Tom Sawyer. Tom describes the moment Tom sawyer created his gang of robbers. It states that “Everybody said it’s a beautiful oath” and Tom was asked if he could think of it. He spoke a portion of it but the rest was based on pirate books and robber novels, and every high-toned gang had it.” (Twain 10, this parody is a good example of how Tom Sawyer uses adventure novels to guide his actions and creates an oath from them.

Humor in Huckleberry Finn: Burlesque

Particularly through caricature.

Pap’s character is a great example of burlesque through caricature. Huck describes his father the way he would imagine him. According to Huck’s description, Pap Finn appears as an older man with a scary appearance, being very unkempt and pale like a ghost.

Humor in Huckleberry Finn: Farce

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Chapter Six sees Huck being kidnapped and taken by his father. Huck is kept in the cabin by Pap, who never lets him go unless Pap is with him.

Huck was unable to escape when Pap kept the key hidden under his pillow. Later, Pap chases Huck through the house with a gun. Modern society would consider these scenes dark and dangerous. However, Twain thought it was a farce because of Pap’s physical humor.

Humor in Huckleberry FinnHumor in Huckleberry Finn: Practical jokes


Chapter 10: Huck kills a rattlesnake. Huck places the dead snake at Jim’s feet, and then forgets everything about it. The dead Snake’s mate, who is found near Jim’s feet by the snake, bites Jim on the heel. Jim feels extreme pain from this. Huck feels regret for having caused this trouble.


Huck and Jim are separated in thick fog on the second night, as they hope to reach Cairo soon. Huck gives up after trying for so long to find Jim. But he finally finds him.

He finds Jim fast asleep. Jim lay down on his back, his head between his knees, and his right arm was extended over the steering-oar when I arrived. Jim wakes up happy to see Huck, but the latter denies that it was all a dream. Jim is convinced that these are just Jim’s apparitions. Jim begins to believe him and begins to attribute reasons. Then he sees the rubbish of leaves and other rubbish on the boat. Huck had been tricking Jim all along.

Humor in Huckleberry Finn: Determining the limits of Fun

This book is very good at defining the boundaries of fun and what doesn’t. What is fun for Huck or Tom can turn out to be torture or humiliation for Jim. This insensitive fun seeking stems from the assumption that blacks don’t look like whites, and therefore are not suitable for white fun. Huck attempts to have fun with Jim twice, but both times he fails. He tied a rattlesnake to Jim’s bed in his first attempt. However, Jim feels guilty after being bitten by the snake.

After the second attempt, involving the fog incident, he vows to never play again: Jim is playing mean tricks. Tom however never learns. Tom’s evasion plan, which involves prolonged humiliation and torture that is unnecessary and needless, gives him “the greatest fun he has ever had in life” (Ch.36).

Tom explains what fun should be to sum it all, there are many types of humor in Huckleberry. We also have moments of pure comedy, farce, and the impish humour for children. Humour is a tool of attack, all buoyed by the irrepressible enthusiasm of youth.