Protagonists: exposed to the vagaries of the world:
The initial picture of Emma, the female protagonist, is that of an attractive, witty, and affluent girl. From this, we get a gesture of the various varieties of modulated and demodulated ironies used with tremendous precision by this great author. Emma commits three main blunders. Initially, she wants Harriet to be the wife of gentleman. On the contrary, Harriet’s position says that she would be appropriate for the cultivator who adored her. Subsequently, she flirts with Frank Churchill although she is not concerned for him, making inequitable remarks regarding Jane Fairfax. She does not comprehend that, more willingly than being dedicated to staying single, she feels affection for and desires to marry Mr. Knightley. A marvelous creation of Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the masterpiece best reveals his ironical blending of contrasting characters. The story is in the form of a first person narration and the reader’s perception of the story is through Huck’s eyes. The analytical issue of the disgrace of racism and the hideousness of slavery is beautifully depicted with a humorous disposition. Samuel Longhorne Clemens under the pseudonym of ‘Mark Twain’ is acclaimed as one of the leading humorous writers of the world. He has produced some of the best works of his time. His readers have long appreciated him for his classical interpretation of human morality and several critical thematic concerns of race and society but yet in a most humorous, easy and light hearted representation. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is by far his best work. “Huckleberry Finn is a great book because it is about a god–about, that is, a power which seems to have a mind and will of its own, and which to men of moral imagination appears to embody a great moral idea.Huck himself is the servant of the river-god, and he comes very close to being aware of the divine nature of the being he serves”. (Trilling 1985). He “made it clear that Jim was good, deeply loving, human, and anxious for freedom.[i]
Huck emerges as a flawed character. Mark twain describes Huck and Jim through a journey of discovering themselves. Their endurance of miseries and hardships enhances their friendship and exposes Huck to the vagaries of the world. Twain tactfully and with an aroma of humor, describes the social and moral matters of the time from the perspective of a clean hearted little uncivilized boy. Nevertheless Huck is not a free ethical intellect. He craftily incorporates humor to the arena and at the same time, trying to bring into light the disgrace of racism and the hideousness of slavery. For this kind of his writing, he has been also long criticized for his more moderate representation of the extents of social illness of the time. In the previous book, Huck manages to earn a huge amount of money along with his friend Tom, as they revealed the robber’s loot. “The novel has also been considers as a bildungsroman by many literary reviewers”. [ii]Later, Huck is kidnapped by his drunken father who wants Huck’s money. He escapes his mad father in the woods and shoves down the river in a canoe. This proves Huck to be a real fighter, a real hero and shows his approach towards self awareness.He is later kept by a widow and her sister who try to educate him. But Huck hates this and together with his slave friend at the Watson’s, he journeys down the river for several days, in search of freedom and fresh air. Huck proves to be a character seeking absolute freedom. On the journey, the two have many adventures together and become great friends. They stay together and then get separated several times until they finally meet the king and the Duke whom they rob and Huck manages to escape. Huck is very harmony with a black boy, shows his disgust for racism. However Jim is trapped and is sold. Huck searches for him and finds him Tom’s Aunt Sally’s house from where they rescue him. From all his adventures, the boy learns many new life lessons that eventually help him develop a conscience and humanize himself. In describing the character of a young boy who is in search of freedom and adventure, the novel bases itself on the banks of the river Mississippi.
During the period when the book, Emma, was written, although seemingly flowing in a positive direction, race relations were beginning to withstand new strains, trapped now in a cleverer and more civilized white society. These new forces were more social and personal than official. This new form of racism in the south was less institutionalized and monolithic but at the same time was more difficult to resolve or combat. Although, Austen wrote the book about twenty years after the end of the emancipation proclamation and the civil war, humanity still struggled to emerge out cleanly out of the disgraces of racism and the aftermaths of slavery. Emma’s obstinacy and egotism fabricate numerous arguments, as Emma fights to grow sensitively.
The theme revolves around the fortitude of a strong woman. Emma is a lady of confined worldly vision, quite often who is dazzled by the superficial trappings. She is carried away by position, power and authority. She judges men not by the standards of right or wrong but by the positions they occupy in the society. She goes through the miseries of life, one after another but at the end, emerges victorious. The book absolutely has a preference on Emma’s self-determination and ingenuity, self awareness.
Chaim Potok’s personal and conversational style makes the reader involved in his tone and mood. He takes the reader into confidence through his easy and delightful pace. He has breathed life into each character and hence has given, My Name Is Asher Lev, a befitting place in the galaxy of American literature; the ramification of which has in filtered the halo arena of literature bequeathing it as a legacy. This is the narrative of Asher Lev, a boy born with a phenomenal creative aptitude into a Hasidic Jewish family in 1940s Brooklyn. All through Asher’s upbringing, his imaginative endowment gets him into disagreement with the associates of his stanchly devout sect, who assess that art has nothing to do with Judaism. It brings him into particularly strong conflict with his father, a man who has dedicated his time to helping the head, the Rebbe, by roaming about the world, conveying the teachings of their sect to other Jews. The silence brings a few sinister perceptions of the dimensions of unpleasant pictures between Asher and his father. The entire family too knows well that the boy was desperate to escape his captivity, in connection with his art. So in many ways Potok , with the magic of his irony, intends to keep Asher silent. All the while, the picture that Potok shows of Asher is that of a hero, a little young boy with a clean heart and an honest soul. Potok presents Asher as also a free logical thinker; a philosopher who defies the unnecessary assumptions and standards of the society of the period. He makes the reader to take Asher as an honest and clear hearted character who shall never do any wrong or try to harm others intentionally. He talks about Asher’s loyalty. Such a shaky sense of justice without a plinth of morality and pride, that Asher’s repeatedly encounters, have been efficiently illuminated by Potok. Clearly, he pities the society of the period, a surrounding marked by cowardice and selfishness and devoid of free and logical thinking. However, in many ways, Potok has brought glimpses of Asher standing a few steps away from the classical Hero. This is yet again a marvelous application of ironies. This is again a feature of the unpredictable charisma of his ironies. In the very beginning of the novel, Asher fakes his own death, perhaps a mark of intelligence on the part of the boy. However in some circumstances, such incidents also do create a general feeling of disrespect and decline towards the protagonist. Although a very warm relation, involving substantial amounts of faith, belief love and care, the theme is a pastoral bond that resembles an idealized relation of the time and in many ways, represents an improvised citadel of decency that is not entirely free from delicacy and distrust. This can clearly be understood when Asher , on many occasions is tempted to set himself towards self awareness or responsiveness. “
In Huckleberry Finn, Twain, exposes the hypocrisy of slavery, demonstrating how racism distorted the oppressors as much as it did those who were oppressed. The brilliant use of irony again reveals itself when in a world of moral confusion, in which seemingly “good and civilized” white people like Miss Watson and Sally Phelps express no concern what so ever about the injustice and illegitimacies of slavery or the cruelty of separating a poor Jim from his family. In the eyes of a little young boy, we read Twain’s depiction of slavery as an allegorical representation of the plight of blacks in the United States even in the post-slavery time.
All the while, Huck is punished, locked, chased and misjudged but he still maintains his characteristic resilience. In his stay at the widow’s, Huck meets his old drunken father one day who is on the hunt for Huck’s only treasure: the robber’s money. His then sivilized family, the legal system, and the educated community all fail to protect a poor young boy from a greedy, alcoholic father chasing his son for money even after finding his dead son alive after ages. The so called uncivilized Huck is recklessly manhandled by a supreme, dignified and God fearing society that consequentially even fails to provide an abandoned boy with a set of beliefs and values that are consistent and satisfying to him. In this part of the novel, the application of irony can be probably best observed. Twain brings into light the hypocrisy and unnecessary diplomacy of the society of the time.This is seen when Miss Watson tells Huck that hell is a “bad place”, Huck is interested to there. Miss Watson tries to explain that the heaven is a good place and that there is no chance that Tom Sawyer would end up in there; the reply is worth appreciating the boy’s feelings for his beloved friend. Huck says he is even gladder as he says “because I wanted him and me to be together” (Twain 1884). .
The specialty of Jane Austen lied in her graceful interpretation of the society and its people of her time. From the eyes of a young woman, she takes the reader to a journey back to her time when the world was a difficult place to life, but Emma accomplishes through her self awareness. Mark Twain in his lecture notes proposes that “a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience,” and goes on to describe the novel as “…a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat.”[iii] Similarly, Chaim Potok, in the story of Asher Lev maintains a supreme calmness in his pace that is garnished with humor and adventure. Time and again it has been affirmed that Mark Twain’s work of fiction, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, altered the world of literature. Critics such as Ernest Hemingway, Sanford Pinsker and Lionel Trilling and eminent writers such as T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and H.L. Mencken have to a great extent gone into raptures over this work of art. Huck, the outcast, essentially flees from Southern society, while Sherburn, the gentleman, confronts it, albeit in a brutal, destructive fashion.[iv]The book however is a masterpiece of a great author who most beautifully incorporates a plethora of contrasting characters.
[i] Leonard, James S.; Thomas A. Tenney and Thadious M. Davis (December 1992).
[iii] Mark Twain: Critical Assessments, Stuart Hutchinson, Ed, Routledge 1993, p. 193
[iv] Jehlen, Myra (1995-05-26). “Banned in Concord: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Classic American Literature”. in Forrest G. Robinson (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Mark Twain. Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–109.
Mark Twain: Critical Assessments, Stuart Hutchinson, Ed, Routledge 1993, p. 193
Jehlen, Myra (1995-05-26). “Banned in Concord: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Classic American Literature”. in Forrest G. Robinson (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Mark Twain. Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–109.
Lionel Trilling, “The Greatness of Huckleberry Finn,” in Huckleberry Finn Among the Critics, edited by M. Thomas Inge, University Publications of America, 1985, pp. 81 – 92.
Twain Mark, The adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Revised edition, (penguin classics), (Paperback), ISBN 0-14-039046-4, 1986
Potok Chaim, My Name Is Asher Lev, Anchor,ISBN-13: 978-1400031047, 2003
Austen Jane, Emma, Penguin Classics, ISBN- 978-0141439587
Claudia Durst Johnson, Journal on Understanding Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A student case book of issues, sources and historical documents.
James S. Leonard, Thomas A. Tenney, Thadious M. Davis.Satire or Evasion? Article on Black Perspectives On Huckleberry Finn
Leonard, James S.; Thomas A. Tenney and Thadious M. Davis (December 1992).