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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism) - Essay

Introduction

❶The three men are grave robbing! In the final three chapters, Tom re-enters the storyline.

Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Essay Sample

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After winning her over, Tom suggests that they "get engaged. One night, Huck and Tom sneak off at midnight to the town's graveyard, where they are planning to carry out a special ritual used to cure warts. Believers in superstition and folklore, the two expect the graveyard to be full of ghosts. The three men are grave robbing!

Soon, a fight breaks out between Dr. Robinson and the two other men. Robinson grabs a headboard and knocks the liquored Muff Potter into unconsciousness, Injun Joe grabs Muff's knife and stabs the doctor to death. The boys run away from the graveyard before they learn that Injun Joe is planning on framing Muff for the doctor's murder.

Fearful of Injun Joe and horrified at what they have witnessed, Huck and Tom vow to keep silent regarding the night's events. The next day brings only grief for Tom. Aunt Polly learns from Sid that Tom snuck out the night before and cries over him. At school, Becky snubs Tom by paying no heed to his boyish antics. Hurt and angry, Tom assembles a "gang" of pirates: The three boys decide that they have had enough of normal society and run away to Jackson Island, in the middle of the Mississippi River.

When the boys are missing, the whole town assumes that they have drowned in the river and villagers drag the river for their bodies. In the darkness of the night, Tom sneaks off the island to return home and leave a note for Aunt Polly informing her that he is not dead.

Robinson, the discovery of hidden treasure, and the adventure in McDougal's Cave serve to entertain a younger body of readers, such incidents as the fence whitewashing episode and Tom's "treatment" of the family cat with an intoxicating painkiller are cited as canny portrayals of the nature of childhood. Other critics, notably John Seelye, view several incidents in the novel, including Tom's encounters with Injun Joe and Tom and Becky's disappearance in the cave, as confrontations between innocence and evil which initiate Tom into the world of adult responsibilities and consequences.

Commentators also contrast Tom's initial resistance to the social order of St. Petersburg with his later acceptance of a prominent place among the wealthy townspeople and his final efforts to "civilize" Huck as evidence that Tom develops from a romantic who shuns the demands of adulthood into a more practical character who is able to achieve maturity without losing his individuality and playfulness.

It has also been observed that the novel burlesques the conventions of romantic fiction through Tom's playacting at heroic roles and his pining for Becky Thatcher, while the motif of Tom as a young hero who achieves success despite his mischievousness pokes fun at the didactic fiction popular in Twain's day, which portrayed unrealistically pious children whose exemplary behavior ensures their eventual material success.

Although its reputation has suffered from comparisons to its highly acclaimed sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, most critics agree with Barry Marks's assessment: Inherent in its structure is a song praising mankind—praising his weakness and need for love and security as well as his strength and capacity for achievement, but mostly praising the life which permits man's conflicting motives to exist together in ultimate harmony.

Aldrich has studied the life of A Bad Boy as the pleasant reprobate led it in a quiet old New England town twenty-five or thirty years ago, where in spite of the natural outlawry of boyhood he was more or less part of a settled order of things, and was hemmed in, to some measure, by the traditions of an established civilization.

Clemens, on the contrary, has taken the boy of the Southwest for the hero of his new book, [ The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ] and has presented him with a fidelity to circumstance which loses no charm by being realistic in the highest degree, and which gives incomparably the best picture of life in that region as yet known to fiction. The town where Tom Sawyer was born and brought up is some such idle, shabby little Mississippi River town as Mr.

Clemens has so well described in his piloting reminiscences, but Tom belongs to the better sort of people in it, and has been bred to fear God and dread the Sunday-school according to the strictest rite of the faiths that have characterized all the respectability of the West. His subjection in these respects does not so deeply affect his inherent tendencies but that he makes himself a beloved burden to the poor, tender-hearted old aunt who brings him up with his orphan brother and sister, and struggles vainly with his manifold sins, actual and imaginary.

The limitations of his transgressions are nicely and artistically traced. He is mischievous, but not vicious; he is ready for almost any depredation that involves the danger and honor of adventure, but profanity he knows may provoke a thunderbolt upon the heart of the blasphemer, and he almost never swears; he resorts to any stratagem to keep out of school, but he is not a downright liar, except upon terms of after shame and remorse that make his falsehood bitter to him.

He is cruel, as all children are, but chiefly because he is ignorant; he is not mean, but there are very definite bounds to his generosity; and his courage is the Indian sort, full of prudence and mindful of retreat as one of In the following essay, he demonstrates that Tom Sawyer was written partly as a response to the didactic children's fiction of Twain's day.

Since, as several critics have suggested, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer attacked earlier juvenile literature in something roughly like the way Joseph Andrews attacked Pamela, a note on the structure of the novel may well start though it should not, I think, terminate with a In the following essay, he analyzes Twain's synthesis of romantic and anti-romantic themes in Tom Sawyer. One cannot seriously quarrel with DeLancey Ferguson when he says that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer violates every rule, past, present, and future of the "art novel," for in its context Mr.

Ferguson's statement points out something which is important and true about that book. Taken out of its context, however, as I am afraid it has often been XXIV, July, , pp. All writers of fiction furnish their works with experience from their own lives. But, despite their superficially adversarial relationship, there is a real bond of loyalty and love between Tom and Aunt Polly.

The worst punishment she can inflict on Tom is to cry or be hurt by his behavior. Aunt Polly thus embodies a more positive kind of authority than the rest of adult society because her strictness is balanced with real love and concern. Like Tom, she exhibits the truly positive elements of social relations, without all the hypocrisy and insincerity. What role do alcohol and images of drunkenness play in the novel?

Tom and Huck accidentally find whiskey in the back rooms of the Temperance Tavern. Tom joins the Cadets of Temperance organization but then quits because it is too stringent. This obsession with alcohol fits into the larger themes of the novel because The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is in many ways a story about pushing the limits of acceptable social behavior.

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- THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer tells the story of Tom, an imaginative and mischievous young boy who never passes up a chance for an adventure in mid-nineteenth century St. Petersburg, Missouri.

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Tom Sawyer is not the complex masterpiece that its successor Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is, but it is well worth reading in its own right. The novel lives on because of its humor and its memorable evocation of the world of childhood.

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While you are reading our “ The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” essay, you can come up with your own ideas. Aunt Polly is constantly in suspense: her beloved nephew always breaks discipline, and she is torn between the need for his punishment and pity for the boy. Join Now Log in Home Literature Essays The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Essays Twain's Women Kristine Mathewson The Adventures of Tom Sawyer "American literature is male.

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Mark Twain: Man of Many Tales. Mark Twain, the father of American literature, was a prominent figure in the writing world. He used realism in his works and created . Sep 06,  · In the following essay, he explores Tom Sawyer's particular appeal to the American temperament. For almost a century Mark Twain's novel of American boyhood, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, has enjoyed great popularity and earned a place as one of our foremost popular "classics".