Critical analysis on Huckleberry Finn Essay

This essay has a total of 1075 words and 5 pages.

Critical analysis on Huckleberry Finn

[A]nd as we struck into town and up through the middle of it--it was as much as half-after
eight, then--here comes a raging rush of people, with torches, and an awful whooping
and yelling, and banging tin pans and blowing horns; and we jumped to one side to let
them go by; and as they went by, I see they had the king and the dike astraddle of a
rail--that is I knowed it was the king and the duke, thought was all over tar and
Feathers, and didn't look like nothing in the world that was human--just looking like
a couple of monstrous big soldier-plumes. Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was
sorry for them poor pitiful rascals, it seemed like I couldn't never feel any
hardness against them any more in the world. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings
can be awful cruel to one another.

In the above passage from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, Tom and Huck
walk through the middle of a town and see two con artists (the king and duke) who they had
encountered earlier in their adventures. The king and duke have been captured and are
being carried "astraddle of a rail" (369), which defines as being "on or
above and extending onto both sides," covered with tar and feathers through the town. The
above passage displays why Huck disagrees with the public mistreatment and humiliation of

According to the online encyclopedic website,, tarring and feathering
was a typical punishment used to enforce justice, with roots dating back to as early as
1191 with Richard I of England. The goal of tarring and feathering was to hurt and
humiliate a person enough so that they would leave town and not cause any more mischief.
Hot tar was poured onto a criminal while he was immobilized, then feathers were either
thrown onto the criminal from buckets or the criminal was thrown into a pile of feathers
and rolled around. The criminal was then taken to the edge of town and released in the
hopes of him never returning. The feathers would stick to the tar for days making the
person's sentence clear to the public. Tarring and feathering was eventually abandoned
because it did nothing to rehabilitate the criminal.

Huck tells his readers that after the king and duke are tarred and feathered that they
look " nothing in the world that [...] [is] human" (369). It is clear from Huck's
description of the townspeople "…whooping and yelling, and banging tin pans and blowing
horns…" that they are making it a point to draw attention to the "…monstrous big
soldier-plumes…" that are the con artists. The sight of two humans covered in tar and
feathers makes Huck "…sick to see it…" and makes it difficult for him to "...ever feel
any hardness against [...] [the convicts] any more in the world". Just from those few very
descriptive sentences it is made obvious to the readers that Huck does not agree with the
way his acquaintances are treated.

The dialect that Twain chose for Huck's character is that of a child in early elementary
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