Mention the big names of writers of all times and the name Mark Twain automatically comes up in the list. Born in 1835 as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he adopted the name Mark Twain in his writing career. The most outstanding technique used by Mark Twain in all his works is the use of humor and satire. He is famous for his story of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer which developed to The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, a story that was received with mixed reactions by many people as it was said to promote racism. We will analyze two stories by Mark Twain, one of them being the famous Adventure of Huckleberry, and The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, a short story that he did and compare the use of humor in the two.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
This novel was written by Mark Twain and published in 1884 in England, and later in 1885 in United States of America. The story revolves around a young boy named Huckleberry Finn. Widow Douglas, with her sister Miss Watson have been placed as guardians for Huck whose attempts to civilize him bear no fruits to the wild Huck who appears to be more accustomed to the free wild side of life (Twain 4).
Tom Sawyer, a character in the book ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ is briefly introduced in this scene when he rescues Huck from Widow Douglas’s house, past Jim, who is introduced as Miss Watson’s slave (Twain 12). Huck is introduced to Tom Sawyer’s gang who like plotting in adventurous crimes (Twain 16). Huck’s father, Pap, makes an appearance and changes the life of Huck (Twain 27). He is portrayed as a drunkard parent who is also very abusive. He tries unsuccessfully to get the fortune acquired by Huck as a result of his earlier adventures. He however succeeds in getting custody of Huck forcefully and locks him up in his cabin but his plan is thwarted when Huck escapes from the cabin and fakes his own death.
The second plot of the story is along Mississippi river where Huck escapes to and he comfortably settles in the wilderness along the river (Twain 37). Jim is introduced again in this plot when they happily reunite in Jackson Island where Jim sought refuge upon a threat by Miss Watson to sell him as a slave to a place where life would be unbearable as a slave. His plan is to get to Cairo. At first, Huck is caught between a rock and a hard stone in deciding whether he should notify someone about Jim’s escape but he decides to join him in his adventure to look for Cairo.
Throughout their journey, they talk about Jim’s past life and the difficulties he has encountered and this begins to change the perception of Huck regarding slavery, life and people in general. They find a house that is floating in the river and inside there is a dead man. Huck tries to get a glimpse of his face but Jim refuses him to see the face. Huck later decides to dress like a woman to get to town without being noticed.
He finds his way to a certain woman’s house who is new to the area and it is here that he learns that there was a manhunt for Jim who had been accused of murder. A $300 reward has been offered to anyone who would lead to Jim’s arrest. Huck betrays his sex when he is unable to sew and the woman on learning the truth allows him to run back to the island and he warns Jim of the manhunt. They escape using the raft they had found during one of their many adventures along the river.
The third plot of the story introduces characters named Grangerfords and the Stepherdsons when Grangerfords who had bad blood with Stepherdsons rescue Huck when their raft is swamped by a steamship separating him from Jim (Twain 101). He is entangled in the fight between the two families and he has to escape when the Stepherdsons kills all the males in Grangerford family. This devastates him and he briefly describes how he narrowly escapes from the duel fight. Upon his escape, he later reunites with Jim and continues with their journey.
The adventure sees them rescuing two swindlers, one of them who introduce himself as the Duke’s son while the other one who is older alleges to be Dauphin, the lost son of king of France, Louis XVI. They arrive in town where they still encounter some adventures including an incidence involving Jim and the swindlers attempt to inherit the property of Peter Wilkes. This leads to Jim escape with the aid of Huck which ends up Huck being mistaken for Tom Sawyer by the Phelps family, characters introduced as Tom’s relatives.
In the conclusion, Jim is captured while sleeping and taken back to Miss Watson who later releases him at will before dying. Jim tells Huck that the dead man in the floating house was his abusive father and that he was now safe.
Huck however gives his intention to further flee to Indian Territory when Tom’s family attempt to adopt and civilize him (Twain 199).
The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County
This is a short story that was written by Mark Twain in 1865 that brought him the recognized national attention. “In this story, it is told by a narrator who is on an errand to find an old acquaintance of his friend” (Twain and Webb 7). It takes a humorous turn when Simon Wheeler, upon being asked about the acquaintance starts narrating a long story about a certain character named Jim Smiley. Jim is a gambler who bets on anything (Twain and Webb 10).
He encounters a stranger who is ready to place his bet on a frog that would jump the highest. It should be noted that the author applies deceit by pouring lead shots to the frog so that it weighs down so as to enable him win the bet.
Comparison in The Specific Humorous Techniques Used In The Two Stories
The most outstanding technique that Twain uses in the story of the Jumping Frog is dense humor, in its incidence presented by the narrator as compared to the Huck story. In the Jumping Frog story, he further succeeds to tell a story which has difficult structure combing it with humor to make it seem artless. When one reads the story, it appears to make no sense as compared to Huck’s story, which on the other hand starts to narrate the adventures in a simple way. The story of the Jumping Frog seems to be told at length and as one reads on, it appears to lead nowhere though the humor keeps the lengthy story tailored. Another mode used is where Twain tries his best to conceal the funny parts of the story by narrating the Jumping Frog story in a grave manner.
Techniques Used By Mark Twain to Hone His Comic and Satiric Craft
Mark Twain is seen to use a language that is colloquial and very simple. He uses direct sentence structures using them to target his protagonists in their daily routine of works. His use of vernacular in most of his work brings to life his attempt to escape civilization in the bid to gain his freedom.
His humor can be said to be remarkable and he is known to use exaggeration in his narrations. He criticizes the society by pointing out the injustices in a humorous way. He further uses realism when coming up with his stories with what is really happening, or has already happened in the society. His use of characterization is prominent to bring out the comical and satire in the story. He is seen to be very good when coming up with characters to be used in his stories where he makes sure they develop each other.
It can also be noted how he develops his story in a satiric yet humorous manner. He appears to be hitting at the societal political era and the injustices in them.
Mark Twain is a master in developing his story in a humorous way and including a hint of satire in all of them. They are interesting and when reviewing them, one needs to keep an open mind as they are due to many misinterpretations. However, he develops his characters in a unique way, a trait that every writer should possess.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Middlesex: Echo Library Publishers, 1884. Print.
Twain, Mark and Webb, Charles. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. U.S.A: BiblioLife Publishers, 1996. Print.