Twain’s Use Of Women In The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

1644 words - 7 pages

Many people knew Mark Twain for his regard of women. However, the culture of his time believed women were inferior to men, and a woman's place was as a housewife. Twain disagreed with many of his society's views, those pertaining to women in particular. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain opposes many of his society's views, including the roles of women. Oftentimes in his novel, Twain's female characters were better than men. In fact, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain uses most women as positive characters, using them as foils to negative male characters in the novel, instilling in each main female character positive virtues, and using the women and their virtues to help ...view middle of the document...

After living with Pap, the widow accepts Huck into her home, and then, after a short time with the widow, Huck comes under the heinous guardianship of his father Pap once again. Despite Pap's negative influence on Huck and the Widow Douglas' relatively short time with him, Huckleberry learns many values from the widow, which start him on his journey to maturity. Among the many things Huck learns and receives from the Widow Douglas are a school education and knowledge about the Bible and Christian beliefs. Although Huck seems ignorant and careless when in reference to much the widow tells him about Christianity, many times in his near future, and throughout his journey, Huck remembers and relies on the same truths the widow imparts to him. In her own way, the Widow Douglas not only embodies several positive virtues and provides a foil character to Huck's evil father, Pap, she also helps Huck mature emotionally and spiritually.Another woman Twain uses positively in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is Mrs. Loftus. Mrs. Loftus is the first woman Huck encounters in contact with, after staging his own death and running away with Jim. In his own youthful foolishness, Huck decides to dress up like a girl and go ashore in order to learn any news of his hometown. The first place he comes to happens to be the Loftus homestead. Mrs. Loftus tells the girl look-alike to come in, sit down and rest. What Huck fails to realize when he tries to dupe Mrs. Loftus into believing he is a girl, is that Twain uses Mrs. Loftus as a symbol of the virtue wisdom. Therefore, because of her wisdom, Mrs. Loftus almost immediately recognizes Huck as a girl and for the fraud he is.Throughout the whole novel, the only male character who even remotely embodies wisdom is Colonel Sherburn, a murderer who appears at another town down the river. However, because Twain intends Sherburn to be a negative character, and act as a foil to another character in the novel, Colonel Grangerford, no male in the novel has any truly wise characteristics. Therefore, there is no one true foil to Mrs. Loftus's character. Despite her lack of foil character, Mrs. Loftus is an incredible influence on Huck, imparting upon him some of her womanly virtues. Also, she gives Huck some very good advice on passing himself off as a girl, such as "when you set out to thread a needle"¦hold the needle still and poke the thread at it"¦. And when you throw at a rat or anything, hitch yourself up a tip-toe, and miss your rat about six or seven foot" (Twain 46). Obviously, despite this good advice from Mrs. Loftus, Huck decides being a girl is too troublesome and complicated. He shows these feelings by avoiding dressing up like a girl again throughout the rest of the novel. Before meeting Mrs. Loftus and encountering her "female principle of virtue," Huck is a realist, but he has no common sense, which he shows by always running around with Tom Sawyer and playing childish and capricious games such as...

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