The Ironic Critical Nature of Mark Twain

Irony is an essential element of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by the acclaimed American author, Mark Twain. Mark Twain frequently expresses his satire and criticisms through the three types of irony: situational, verbal, and dramatic, which are noticeable throughout the novel.

Situational irony is prevalent in this novel. A specific example of situational irony is described when Huckleberry falsifies his death and disappears. Huck encounters a woman in her house who is "about forty year old ¦knitting by a candle that was on a pine table  (54). The protagonist, dressed as a girl, approaches the woman's house, and introduces himself as "Sarah Williams  (55). The woman then speaks of the murder of Huckleberry Finn. Moreover, she mentions that "some think old Finn done it himself  (56). In the latter part of her conversation with Huck, the woman adds that "before night, they (the townspeople) changed around and judged it (the murder) was done by a runaway nigger named Jim  (56). This quote is the crux of the episode in which Twain uses situational irony to criticize how twisted the mind of the common citizen was at the time. The woman blames Jim only because he is black, and does not mention a white man. Another example of a situational irony is illustrated when the Duke and Dauphin auction the family of slaves. The town becomes angry over the separation of the family of slaves, while "The thing made a big stir in the town, too, and a good many came out flatfooted and said it was scandalous to separate the mother and the children that way ¦  (183).

This event is ironic because the townspeople complained about the separation of the enslaved family, but they did not mind that the family was being sold. The incident gives the feeling that the town would not have complained if the family had been sold intact, "ethically.

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