Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formattingExcerpt from Term Paper:
Humor in Literature
American literature is unique in that the attitudes of the works tend to reflect the spirit of the nation and of her citizens. One of the trademarks of American literature is that authors display a tone that can be very serious, but that also can be interpreted as humorous. Whereas texts from other cultures are usually more concerned with message and in presenting that message in a dry, even stoic manner, American literature is uniquely capable of mixing the honest and the humorous. Even in the most serious and earnest stories, the sensibility of American humor can be detected. Of course, there are different types of humor. Some stories are flat-out ridiculous and make the reader laugh. Other stories are more sarcastic in their approach to humor and the funny moments have to be analyzed to be better understood. Still other tales are anecdotal and function as a humorous suggestion to the reader or their wives. Finally, some forms of humor that are presented in American literature are in the form of parody, where an issue that would be taken seriously in another text are modified slightly so that the tone changes from serious to sly and silly. There are some books which are extremely serious in tone but still have moments of lightheartedness and humor. This tendency in American literature is made evident in several works including Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle," and Edgar Allen Poe's "The Purloined Letter."
Mark Twain's novel Huckleberry Finn is a serious narrative about a young white boy who decides to escape the process of civilization in order to retain his sense of self. In the process of this, he helps a slave named Jim escape from bondage and, in so doing, makes the realization that, to him, slavery as an institution is wrong. Jim is his friend and he does not want him to be enslaved or to anyone else's property. Jim is a good man and deserves freedom. First feeling that he is committing a sin against God for helping this man escape slavery, Huckleberry finally comes to the conclusion that it is worth the worst penalty, even burning in Hell forever, to do what he feels is right and help his friend Jim (Twain 97). By writing the story from this boy's perspective, the author Twain allows the readers to relate to Huckleberry Finn and to make the same conclusions about racial inequality and slavery in the United States. However, within this novel which is full of heavy and important ideas, there is visible the humor that is characteristic of American literature.
Some of the funniest moments in Huckleberry Finn are perpetrated by the characters of the "Duke" and the "King." These are two men who Huck and Jim meet upon their journey. They pretend to be high ranking members of royalty and thus people to be revered. In reality, they are nothing but con men who try to bilk innocent, hard-working people out of their money. Their shenanigans include a performance of a play titled the Royal Nonesuch which features the two of them acting like idiots and doing some terrible acting. The townsfolk are disgusted by what they see and not only pay for the night's performance but for an additional night, planning to barrage the "actors" with rotten food as punishment. Unfortunately the villains expect this assault and flee the towns with their two days worth of funds. Upon another occasion, they pretend to be the long-lost family members of a recently-deceased man so that they can inherit the dead man's fortune and rob his daughters of their rightful inheritance. However, as is appropriate for a story about the question of what is morally right or wrong, the two men get their just comeuppance and are tarred and feathered by a township who they intended to rip off with another performance of the Nonesuch.
Another part of Huckleberry Finn that is more humorous than serious is at the end of the novel. Jim has been captured, turned in by the fraudsters already mentioned for the reward money. Tom Sawyer, Huck's best friend and a rake in his own right, devises a plan where instead of merely freeing Jim which would be more than easy to do, the three friends must perpetrate a series of complex activities in order to escape "properly." After all the reader and these characters have been through, the audience is rooting for Jim to get free. However, instead of using their own logic which is what has allowed Jim and Huck to get so far down the river undetected, they listen to the boy Tom and his unnecessary and rather ridiculous plans. Among other things, Tom insists that Jim make letters on pie plates using a sharpened spoon. They also make ropes of bed sheets, even though the shack where Jim is kept is not on the second story. Also, Tom fills the shack with insects to make his prison more like the stories that the boys read. Finally, they dig a hole so that Jim can escape. Yet again, Tom has to make things more exciting and informs the white men of Jim's escape even though doing so would seriously hinder their chances of success. Just as the carpetbagger con men were written to mock the belief that white men are some way better and more moral than black men, so the Tom Sawyer section is designed as a parody. Rather than listen to their own sense of logic, Huck and Jim give way to the suggestions of this other boy because they believe him to be in some way superior, either intellectually or emotionally. The reality is though that they were much better off when they were not subject to Tom's imagination.
As Huckleberry Finn is a serious book with some humorous moments, so too Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is about a very serious subject matter that just happens to contain a few light moments. In this story, a woman is forced to wear a red A on her garments to indicate to all the people that she is an adulteress and has had a baby out of wedlock. There are far fewer moments of levity in this piece than the Twain story, but they do exist. The humor that is evident in The Scarlet Letter is more sarcastic in tone. That is to say, many of the events and sentences of the text have a double meaning, just as the A that Hester Prynne wears on her chest comes to have multiple meanings. The story reads like a prolonged double entendre rather than a few moments of levity amid a serious length.
Besides the actual A which at first means Adulteress and then comes to mean various other things, such as Able and Angel, there are other things in the story with a dual meaning, including Hester's daughter Pearl. Much of what Pearl says in the story can be taken in two ways: one as a surface-level statement that represents the uncertainty of the world as viewed through a child's eyes, and secondly as a sexually-knowledgeable creature who speaks of that secret knowledge almost openly. The first indication of this knowledge in Pearl comes when she is being interviewed by the town officials and they ask her where she has come from. Pearl responds that her mother picked her from the rose bush that was growing beside the prison walls where her mother was kept following her arrest on adultery charges. This illustrates at the surface level that Pearl is at least partly aware of the circumstances of her birth and the location of that occasion. It also has a sexual meaning because many people refer to the loss of virginity as deflowering. Similarly the color red evokes heat and passion. The mixture of the two things is what led to Pearl's birth. Another example of Pearl's dual purpose is during the scene where Pearl and her mother are walking in the forest and the daughter asks her mother when she will get an A for her own garments. Pearl asks her mother when she will receive her own A (Hawthorn 168). Pearl believes that the A is indicative of womanhood. In a way, she is right. Hester is forced to wear the A because she engaged in a sexual act with a man because of lust and not marital necessity. She was made a woman when she gave herself physically because of sexual desire and not obligation. So too, one day Pearl will engage in sexual activity. If she enjoys it and she is unmarried, she too may be forced to wear the A.
Author Washington Irving is an interesting addition to this discussion because his sense of humor is something of a mix of what has been presented from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mark Twain. Like Hawthorne, much of what is said can be read in two ways:…[continue]
"Humor In Literature American Literature Is Unique" (2011, October 28) Retrieved December 6, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/humor-in-literature-american-116480
"Humor In Literature American Literature Is Unique" 28 October 2011. Web.6 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/humor-in-literature-american-116480>
"Humor In Literature American Literature Is Unique", 28 October 2011, Accessed.6 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/humor-in-literature-american-116480
American Lit Definition of Modernism and Three Examples Indeed, creating a true and solid definition of modernism is exceptionally difficult, and even most of the more scholarly critical accounts of the so-called modernist movement tend to divide the category into more or less two different movements, being what is known as "high modernism," which reflected the erudition and scholarly experimentalism of Eliot, Joyce, and Pound, and the so-called "low modernism" of later
The higher the humor score, the more the individual was able to place positive distance between their actions and tangible outcomes; they did not interpret their performance on the exams to be as indicative of their own personal worth as much. Theoretical Support - The key to the brain mind connection can be found in a complex set of molecules called neuropeptides. Petptides are made up of amino acids, the
For example, the popular sitcoms Good Times and Sanford and Son showed working class neighborhoods and the problems of violence, crime, and social oppression, and yet how humor always finds its way into these character's lives. The 1970s also brought about a new late night live comedy show, called Saturday Night Live. This show had its first run from 1975 to 1980, and made political humor the centerpiece of Saturday
American? Throughout our history incidents and occurrences remind us what it means to be an American. During this time of war, after the deadly terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, our American ideals and identity have come into re-examination. But where to begin: hold up a mirror to this country and see a mosaic of people, culture, and opinions. Nearly four hundred
The second half, entitled "Airborne Toxic Event, however, serves the role of criticizing the reality of American society and the result of its obsession with consumerism. In the second half, a chemical spill releases a mysterious airborne toxic event over Jack's home area, requiring everyone to evacuate. This event forces Jack to confront his own mortality and society's general fear of death and how it attempts to prevent death
It is thus that he helps to establish the truly tragic abstractions that characterize the family's individual experiences. Where a broad, unilateral overview of the story might direct the reader's focus to the burial plot, an objective set of narratives articulated by the character's themselves suggests that Faulkner intends the story more as a lamentation for the living. In As I Lay Dying, Faulkner delivers a treatise on the American
Indeed, the period now spanning the so-called Modern Era and the Industrial Revolution has been dependent upon humanity taming and turning nature to our own ends. This has led to a process whereby we downplay the natural world and of native peoples in general who live in a more harmonious fashion with their surrounding world. While this process, especially during the Industrial Age, has led to dehumanization process and