Satire

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by

Mark Twain

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Satire 1 key example

Definition of Satire
Satire is the use of humor, irony, sarcasm, or ridicule to criticize something or someone. Public figures, such as politicians, are often the subject of satire, but satirists can take... read full definition
Satire is the use of humor, irony, sarcasm, or ridicule to criticize something or someone. Public figures, such as politicians, are often the subject of... read full definition
Satire is the use of humor, irony, sarcasm, or ridicule to criticize something or someone. Public figures, such as politicians... read full definition
Satire
Explanation and Analysis—American Racism:

Throughout Huckleberry Finn, Twain is satirizing pre-Civil War America, a country whose Declaration of Independence directly stated that “all men are created equal” yet whose laws allowed Black people to be enslaved for nearly 100 more years. In particular, Twain is satirizing the hypocritical beliefs of Christians in the American South who felt comfortable judging others as “sinners” while supporting the violent institution of slavery. Twain’s satirical intentions are hinted as in a subtle way in the farcical “Notice” at the beginning of the novel:

NOTICE: Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

Given that it is impossible for an author to assess whether readers are attempting to find a motive or moral in the book, Twain is making it clear that he is trying to make some sort of moral claim beneath the novel, and he's winking at readers in the process. Twain makes it clear through moments of situational and dramatic irony throughout the book that this “motive” is to criticize the hypocrisy of those who supported slavery.