Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"King"+"Duke"= Outrageous Dastardly Duo

We all know that Twain loves the problem of mistaken identity and impostures.  We have seen impostures in The Prince and The Pauper, with the switched identities of the royal prince and the poor pauper.  We have also seen many instances of deceptive identities in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  One of the most recent occurances of deceptive identities is the episode where the "king" and the "duke" pretend to be Mary Jane's uncles and brothers of the deceased (Chapters 25-27).  This case of deceptive identities is probably the most horrid occurance of impostures I have seen in Huck Finn.  Just to remind yall what happened in these chapters, Mary Jane's father passes away, and the king and the duke come in to town pretending to be her uncles- Harvey and William.  The king and the duke get the "familial" hospitality one would expect from family members and they end up with "three thousand dollars in gold" (178) minus"four hundred and fifteen dollars" (179).  The two "uncles" put on an extravagent show that they will give the money to the orphaned Mary Jane and her sisters.  However, that is not really what the "uncles" plan to do.  they plan to try and find the missing money, sell the family's slaves, and the family's land property to get the most out of this poor family.  TERRIBLE!

However, the duke didn't really want to "rob a lot of orphans of everything they had"(190) but, the king wanted everything- what a GREEDY sorry excuse of a "man".  The king explains,
     "We shan't rob 'em of nothing at all but jes the money.  The people that buys the property is the suff'rers; because as soon's it's found out 'at we didn't own it-which won't be long after we've slid-the sale won't be valid, and it'll all go back to the estate. These yer orphans'll git their house back agin, and that's enough for them; they're young and spry, and k'n easy earn a livin'. " (190)
Even if the slaves and the land property ownership will be given back to Mary Jane and her siblings, the king is horrid.  the king, duke, and Huck pulls off an elaborate hoax of deceitful identities and trickery that, for now, leave Huck with situations that question his morality- however, this is a totally different topic.

Maybe Twain is trying to say that we should be aware of strangers and not trust anyone fully.  This is the cycnical side of me but, even family members can even be untrstworthy.  When people are decieving others, they are lying (obviously), but also faking their way through life.  Through all this faking and dishonesty-acting, maybe one loses oneself and does not truly know who they are.  Or is Twain saying that in reality, we all have different identities that we try out, through the process of growing up and maturing, to figure out who we are?  Is Twain commenting on the fact that we- you, me, everyone, immitate others, whether real or fiction to try out who we want to be?

1 comment:

  1. You're point about trusting people fully is something that I agree with as well. I think that as we grow up we all imitate people at some point, or another, as a way of learning. It is something that we do to teach ourselves how to become a part of society, especially when we are young. I don't think that this imitation necessarily always extends to lying to ourselves about who we are, but it is a way for us to find out who we want to be by, in a sense, "trying on" different personas to see what fits us best. However, I personally don't see this as a form of lying, but more so a way about learning who we are. I think that once we figure out who we are and who we want to be, we stop trying on the different personas. Maybe, this is something that Twain is trying to say through writing Huck Finn, especially since he is still a boy and trying to figure out who he is. In the beginning of the novel, we see him trying to be a robber and a part of a gang (imaginary stuff), however once he decides that doesn't work for him, he quickly leaves the group. We then see him actually start conning people out of money with the king and duke, and he also decides that he doesn't like this lifestyle either. Maybe Huck is just trying to find out who he really is by trying these different personas. I also think you should note WHY Huck is sometimes impersonating people (i.e. Jim's protection- going into different towns as different characters to get information and things for their survival). Just a thought!