The Religious Hypocrisy in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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In an era of realism and war, the ideology of the American society began to shift. Subjects that were deemed normal were being criticized by society, and Mark Twain, author of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, used his platform to degrade American Christianity and the hypocrisy behind how many individuals behaved during the time. In the novel, Twain uses many characters and scenarios, such as the Watson sisters, the Grangerfords, and Huck Finns actions, to criticize the aspect of how people react in the name of religion.

During the first few chapters of the book, two characters by the name of Widow Douglas and Ms. Watson are introduced as the caretakers of huckleberry, and with these characters Twain begins to criticize the religious hypocrisy in their actions. For example, in chapter 2 after Miss Watson described heaven and hell to Finn, and then Finn responds out of anger and frustration that he wished [he] was [in hell] (Twain p.10) that Miss Watson responds that it was wicked [for Huck] to say what [he] said; said she wouldnt say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. (10). According to Fredrick Kallin, from Kristianstad university, Huck Finn emphasizes the use of the word she in to demonstrate her adamant belief and desire that she is a good person and that she will go to [heaven] (Kallin p.10). Her desperate belief that she is good shows how many of societys individuals in the 19th century used to think of themselves to give some meaning to their goodness. Another behavior exhibited that shows their hypocrisy, in the name of religious belief is when Widow Douglas advocates for Huck to help other people (Twain p.19), and to do everything he can for other people (p.19), yet at the same time she has no hesitation or guilt in owning slaves. Another time, she scolds Huck Finn for his mean practice (p.10) of smoking, yet she done it herself (p.10). Discus article Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, that explains the societal and religious hypocrisy in the book, claims that:

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The former us easily illustrated by the irony of the Widow Douglass attempt to teach Huck religious principles while she persists on holding slaves. As with her snuff-taking which is acceptable because she does it herself there seems to be no relationship between her fundamental sense of humanity and justice and her religion.

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