Criticisms of Mark Twain Past and Present



Criticisms of Mark Twain: Past and Present
Mark Twain is regarded as one of the most prominent American authors. Twain was born Samuel L. Clemons several years prior to the Civil War in a small town of Hannibal, Missouri. Much of his boyhood was spent frolicking in the muddy brown waters of the Mississippi. After his fathers death early in his life, Twain was hired for his dream job as a Steamboat Captain on the Mississippi River. This chance was cut short by the start of the Civil War. Twain spent several years as a confederate volunteer, but this did not last either. Twain struck out for the west hoping to make a fortune as a silver prospector. The only richness Twain achieved searching for silver was plenty of experiences on which he could write. His first successful publication "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" is a collection of stories Twain heard while living in the mining camp in Nevada. After his failed attempt at a quick fortune, Twain returned to the east. This is where he published his most famous works which included Tom Sawyer and it\'s sequel Huckleberry Finn. Twain was regarded as a humorist because of his lively imagination that sent his stories into the realm of outlandish. His most highly acclaimed novel Huckleberry Finn appears to be nothing more than a boys tale at first glance, but in actuality it is taught in college literature classes because of it\'s underlining satires and themes. It was even considered to be subversive at the time when it was written because of it\'s anti-government ideas. This story as it appears tells of a young boy, Huckleberry Finn, and his adventures as he travels down the Mississippi. Along the way he picks up a few passengers. The first of these is Jim, a runaway slave. Huck, as he is called for short, decides instead of turning Jim into the authorities, that he will help him get to the free state. Before long Huck and Jim are accompanied by to scam artists, the King and the Duke. The novel elaborates on the tales of these four completely different individuals as the float lazily down the Mississippi. Huck journey down the rivers is not only an adventure, but it is also a conversion from boyhood into an adult. Twain uses the cover of an adventurous boys tale to satirize many of the things that he found to be wrong with society. Although the book was published more than a decade ago, many of the problems that occurred in Twain\'s society are still prevalent today.
One such topic that Twain satirizes heavily in the book is the institution of religion. This criticism of religion can be seen from the start of the book all the way through to the very end. A problem that Twain finds very disgusting about the institution of religion is the hypocrisy. An example of this is the Widow Douglas. The Widow Douglas is more concerned with the behavior of other people than she is of herself. In one case she tells Huck that he cannot smoke because it is dirty; God would not approve, but she herself dips snuff. Another thing that Mark Twain finds ridiculous about religion is the pure stupidity of it all. As in his short story "Letters From Earth" where Twain criticizes humans belief of heaven, Twain does so in a more light hearted manner in Huckleberry Finn: "she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing , forever and ever. So I didn\'t think much of it. But I never said so." Although it doesn\'t seem like much of an attack on religion, Twain so cleverly does this many times throughout the story to make a vivid point.
If Mark Twain were to write Huckleberry Finn today, there is no doubt that he would be quick to make these criticisms about religion again. Everyday people have to open there newspapers and turn on their televisions to news of Priests and ministers molesting young boys and stealing others money. If anything it has become worse of a problem than before.