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Satire and Irony. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Satire.

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Satire and irony

Satire and Irony

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


  • The use of wit or exaggerated humor to ridicule a subject, usually a human weakness (foible), or some social institution with the intention to inspire reform. (Making a serious point about the subject’s defects, with the intent of improving them.)

  • Twain uses it to point out common human failings.


  • Examples:

    • Superstitious beliefs

    • Gullible behavior

    • Greed


  • The contrast between what appears to be and what really is.

    • Verbal irony: when someone says one thing but really means something else.

    • Situational irony: when there is a discrepancy between what is expected to happen, and what really does happen.

    • Dramatic irony: when a character thinks one thing is true and the audience or reader knows better.

Verbal irony
Verbal Irony

  • Example: Chapter 12- “See? He'll be drownded, and won't have nobody to blame for it but his own self. I reckon that's a considerable sight better'n killin' of him. I'm unfavorable to killin' a man as long as you can git aroun' it; it ain't good sense, it ain't good morals. Ain't I right?”

    • This misguided man judges it a lesser crime to let a man drown than to kill him outright. Here, Twain satirizes the idiocy and cruelty of human society.

Situational irony
Situational Irony

  • Example: Chapter 15- "We could sell the raft and get on a steamboat and go way up the Ohio amongst the free states, and then be out of trouble."

    • Huck believes his and Jim's lives will be perfect if they are able to get down the river, but in reality, there's no way of knowing whether they might end up worse off than when they started.

Dramatic irony
Dramatic Irony

  • Example: Chapter 17- “I bet you can't spell my name,' says I.'I bet you what you dare I can', says he.'All right,' says I, 'go ahead.''G-e-o-r-g-e J-a-x-o-n-there now,' he says.'Well,' says I, 'you done it, but I didn't think you could.It ain't no slouch of a name to spell-right off without studying. I set down, private, because somebody might want me to spell it next, and so I wanted to be handy with it and rattle it off like I was used to it."

    • Ironically, Buck misspells Huck's pseudonym, and Huck memorizes the misspelling in case someone asks him about it.

Dramatic irony1
Dramatic Irony

  • Example: Chapter 18- "Each person had their own nigger to wait on them-Buck too. My nigger had a monstrous easy time, because I warn't used to having anybody do anything for me, but Buck's was on the jump most of the time."

    • Most people in Huck's place would have loved having a personal servant, but Huck is uncomfortable, and refuses to take advantage of the man assigned to him. Although he does adhere to aspects of racism ingrained in him due to his upbringing, he has more respect for blacks than most Southerners of the time.


  • The use of language (often times praise) to mock, hurt, wound or ridicule. Sarcasm is less subtle than irony.