Huck Versus Odysseus Essay

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Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an important part of the American literary canon. Its importance, in part, derives from its tale of the development of a new nation, a development in both space and culture. Huckleberry Finn’s journey into the developing landscape of the South has some very striking commonalities with that of Odysseus’s journey in The Odyssey.

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There is one obvious similarity between the journeys of the two heroes: they take place on water. Although Huck’s journey takes place on the Mississippi while Odysseus’s takes place in the much more dangerous ocean, both journeys have a similar goal. Both heroes are searching for freedom.

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There is not always a parallel between each scene of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Odyssey. It would not do to say that it is just a happy coincidence that both epics are so similar. Rather, it could be said that the similarities derive from a participation in what Joseph Campbell called the “monomyth.” An analysis between the two epics is an important exercise in intertextuality that allows for the audience to become a part of a larger literary tradition: that of the archetypal hero journey.

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