Lies in Huck Finn Essay

“That book was written by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There as things which he stretched but mainly he told the truth” (1). These are the first lines and the first lies in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, so from the beginning, the lack of truth is a major theme in the novel. Mark Twain justified the lying in different levels. Some of the lies are vicious and self-serving and these lies were mostly told by the King and Duke while other lies were childish and harmless which was mostly told by Jim.

The “bad” characters in the novel tended to spew out lies on a daily basis.

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The king and Duke tell lies without pausing and transform lying into an art form. They are automatically dubbed villains for their lies because unlike Huck, they tell their lies for self-gain. They are ruthless men who will do practically anything to get what they want. They make up fraudulent names in order to get special treatment from Huck and Jim and lower them to slaves.

The Duke claims he is a descendant of the “Duke of Bridgewater” (100). When the king hears this, he decides he too would take the same path as the Duke so he can be treated as royalty as well, so he spins his own tale that he is the long lost King of France, “Dauphin.

They lied to escape work and although Jim believes them, Huck just goes along with it so he would not anger them. In addition to this, they also deceive numerous towns with their faux imitation of “The Royal Nonesuch” for financial gain. Their lies sped past the road of immorality to downright evil when they lied to two girl who recently lost their uncle in order to steal their money and leave the two girls broke and without a house or a family. The king and the Duke lie only for the satisfaction of appeasing their materialistic desires.

Although the Duke and King lied for their own greedy satisfaction, Jim lied harmlessly. After Tom and Huck played a prank on him, Jim lies to all the other slaves about how he hat got take from his head and put on a tree branch when he was asleep. He tells them a fabricated story of spirits visiting him and achieves celebrity status among the slaves. He also tells them about his hairball which can supposedly tell the future, although only he can tell what it is saying and the customer must pay Jim first for it to work.

Even though his lies are self-serving, unlike the Duke and King’s, they harm no one. Mark Twain painted the art of lying in two different lights in this novel. In one light, it is evil and self-serving and whoever uses it is considered a vile villain, while in the other light, it is deceitful and sly and whoever uses it is considered a child who does not know wrong or right. He proves that there is no black and white: lying is bad or good. Lying can be innocent, and lying can be dangerous; it depends who you are and how you decide to use it.

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