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Archetypal Interpretation Of The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

Posted on:2009-11-16Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:S X ZhangFull Text:PDF
GTID:2195360302977227Subject:English Language and Literature
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Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is considered to be one of the greatest novels in American literature. It has aroused great interest of study ever since its publication. The present author is always fascinated with the novel's mythic quality and Huck and Jim's mythic adventures. Therefore, this thesis attempts to use the archetypal approach to interpret this novel, namely from the aspects of archetypal characters, archetypal structure and plots, archetypal symbols and archetypal themes.The thesis is composed of six parts, including the introduction and the conclusion. The introduction gives a very brief review of different studies on the novel, followed by the author's purpose of choosing the present direction of research, with a detailed explanation for using archetypal criticism as the theoretical basis for the study on the novel.Chapter One is the introduction to archetypal criticism. Research of myth and archetype falls into several schools, in which English anthropologist James George Frazer, who based his study on myths and rituals, and German critic Gustav Jung, whose major achievements lie in the study on the relation between archetype and psychology, are the most representative ones. But the most important critic one shouldn't fail to mention is the Canadian critic Northrop Frye.Chapter Two deals with the archetypal analysis of the characters, trying to find out the archetypes of the leading characters like Huck and Jim. Huck embodies the archetype of American Adam, the mythic New World hero. The archetype of Jesus is seen in Jim, as both a Scapegoat and a Saint.Chapter Three analyzes the archetypal structure, archetypal plots and archetypal symbols. The time sequence, namely, the coincidence of the narrative with the cycle of the seasons, is an archetypal structure which can be traced in the story. And Huck's adventure experiences and growth fit in with the pattern of the biblical patterns: the hero's birth (adventure) and rebirth (growth). Concerning the plot, Mark Twain makes use of the Biblical mode of conflicts between the virtuous and the evil by converting it into the conflicts between Huck, Jim and the society, and the conflicts between idealism and reality. Besides, the dominant archetypal symbols of the river and land in the novel further contribute to the archetypal features of this novel. The river symbolizes the Paradise; the land is the Hell.Chapter Four interprets the archetypal themes of the novel. One of the archetypal themes Mark Twain adopts is "paradise-seeking". When Huck feels stifled or deadened by the society, he escapes to seek for the paradise. The other theme is an old mythic theme: the quest for the Grail. Huck Finn and Jim are the heroes who commit themselves to searching for their grail: their ideal society.The conclusion summarizes Mark Twain's use of the archetypes in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When these archetypes are interpreted in terms of sources of the novel, they constitute an integral part of Mark Twain's artistic creation and effectively convey his intention. By making full use of the archetypes, Mark Twain reveals profoundly the cruelty of the so-called American culture. These functions of the archetypes greatly add to the readability and profundity of the novel and further enrich connotations of the novel.
Keywords/Search Tags:The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, archetype, symbol
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