Transcendentalism in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 906 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 906|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

In the book Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Twain exploits many societal issues in the nineteenth century to showcase the corrupt way of thinking and living in this time period. To get through this way of life, Huck needed to hold on to any type of sanity that he could which is when he realized nature could help him through his time of need. Twain uses many different symbols in his writing to get his point across, one of which is the use of nature. Nature is a key factor in Huck's life by giving him an outlet and a safe haven to call home when he didn’t have one himself. Nature is an escape from reality for Huck because he believes “human beings can be awful cruel to one another”. Nature is more than a way to escape for Huck, it’s what has been there when no one else was and what has helped him through his loneliness. Twain uses the ideals of Emerson and Thoreau, who are both transcendentalists, heavily, which helps Huck get through his journey.

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Without nature, the book Huckleberry Finn would not have been what it is known for today. Nature is what brought the characters together and furthered the plot of the book. Nature in Huckleberry Finn is a symbol of Huck's new found independence from his father Pap and Jim’s key to Freedom from Jim's master, Miss. Watson. While Huck goes through his journey with Jim, he realizes that nature is the key to his problems and he will soon learn to use what the earth is providing for him. The first part of the book where the plot thickens is when Huck “drops the canoe down the river under some willows that hung over the bank, and waited for the moon to rise”. The Mississippi River will be Huck’s best friend throughout the novel by providing safety for the kid. Without the River, Huck wouldn’t have been able to execute his elaborate plans and ultimately save Jim's life.

The Mississippi River and the nature that Twain shows in his writing shed light on the contrast between the harsh reality of life in the nineteenth century and how Huck is living happily as a minimalist living alongside nature. Huck feels a certain connection to nature. As he awakes from a nap that he took in the woods, he is awakened by “the light sifting down through the leaves, and the freckled places swapped about a little, showing there was a little breeze up there. A couple of squirrels set on a limb and jabbered at him very friendly”. This shows just how calm and relaxed Huck feels with the animals that almost resemble his friends. With the absence of nature, Huck wouldn’t be near the person he is because of it.

The teachings and lessons in Huckleberry Finn closely resemble the teachings of transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau. Huck resembles their way of life by seeing the goodness in people and nature. Twain portrays Huck as someone who realizes that what society teaches you is not always right and that you have to learn through your own experiences to find what is truly pure. A turning point in the novel is when Huck goes against what society has taught him and “humbles himself to a n*gger” and afterward, he “warn’t ever sorry for it”. Another time where Huck goes against the societal norm of how to view African Americans, Huck realizes that Jim “cares just as much for his people as white folks does for their’n”. This is just two examples of how Huck uses transcendentalism by using his own beliefs and morals instead of societies.

Huck also understands the difference between what people tell you is the right thing to do and what his heart tells him is the right thing to do is. Huck feels the most alive when in nature and he expresses this multiple times in the novel, one example being how he says there's “no home like a raft, after all… you feel mighty free and easy and comfortable'. When Huck is in his raft surrounded by nothing but the trees and water he feels the safest and secure, like someone would in their own home. Huck feels as if nature is his true home because he wants to remove himself from “societal norm” of how to live his life and break away from the world's opinion and find his individual thoughts and reasoning, like Emerson and Thoreau.

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The river, plants, animals and everything the earth provides for us, is what saved Huck and Jim from the murderous vultures called people in the nineteenth century. Nature was the problem and the solution in the novel, Huckleberry Finn. Nature showed that in life there are many ups and downs but in the end, everything happens for a reason. The storm represents the setbacks in life as Jim predicts how the sky “darkened up and begun to thunder and lightnen”, Huck tells Jim that he “wouldn't want to be nowhere else but there” with him. This is when we really get to see Huck become his own person by breaking the stereotype of two different races which were being ingrained in the minds of the youth of being enemies. Without nature, Jim and Huck wouldn’t have been able to even pursue their journeys, but now we see something even bigger than Huck and Jim's adventure: a friendship that will last forever.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Transcendentalism in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
“Transcendentalism in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
Transcendentalism in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Apr. 2024].
Transcendentalism in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2024 Apr 15]. Available from:
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