Human Morality In Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

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Jonathan Swift, a satirist and author who is best known for Gulliver’s Travels, once said: “I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.” Corrupt and dishonest people exist everywhere in the world, and as people have evolved as a culture, the lack of modest human dignity and shame has also increased and taken a form of its own. Denial and justification of blatant acts of violence and racism are forms of such social systems and behaviors that have come to be. In Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, such a lack of human decency is expressed through the characterization of people who represent both elements of human folly and the flaws of society. Twain uses social satire to highlight the disparities …show more content…
As Huck debates whether or not he should turn Jim in, he reflects upon his own character: “That’s just the way: a person does a low down thing, and then he don’t want to take no consequences of it...That was my fix exactly” (160). Being able to admit to one’s faults is not a thing many people can do, especially in the South at that time, and this creates an environment in which wrongdoings are continually denied or go unacknowledged. Thus, Twain may be suggesting that denying one 's wrongdoings is an act even more shameful than actually committing them, as it creates an excuse to repeat offenses that intensify over time. When this happens, society begins to develop and normalize the idea of using violence to deal with everything. This is much like the mob mentality. The mob believes that it is seeking justice and enacting punishment, but the decisiveness, or rather, quick judgement of the mob seems to have hubristic tendencies. When Huck sees the Duke and King being tarred and feathered, he comments, “I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals...Human beings can be …show more content…
Caught between his moral principles and the social norms, Huck struggles with his decision to help Jim: “I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and says to myself: ‘All right, then, I’ll go to hell’– and tore it up. It was awful thoughts, but they was said” (162). Huck believes his morality leads to “awful thoughts,” and this irony suggests that the culture of racism is long standing and ingrained into society. Sloth and gluttony are human vices: the former pertains to laziness or failure to do what one should do, and the latter pertains to insatiation, which can also be interpreted as selfishness. Twain mocks the South as Huck depreciates himself, declaring that he will “go to hell” for ultimately seeing the humanity in Jim and wanting to help him. Thus, the culture of the South creates an environment that encourages the human vices while simultaneously redefining those vices so that what is morally incorrect is justifiable, and what is ethical is

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