Pudd Nhead Wilson Essay - 927 Words - StudyMode

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Description : Huckleberry Finn dressing as a girl is a famously comic scene in Mark Twain's novel but hardly out of character--for the author, that is. Twain "troubled gender" in much of his otherwise traditional fiction, depicting children whose sexual identities are switched at birth, tomboys, same-sex married couples, and even a male French painter who impersonates his own fictive sister and becomes engaged to another man. This book explores Mark Twain's extensive use of cross-dressing across his career by exposing the substantial cast of characters who masqueraded as members of the opposite sex or who otherwise defied gender expectations. Linda Morris grounds her study in an understanding of the era's theatrical cross-dressing and changing mores and even events in the Clemens household. She examines and interprets Twain's exploration of characters who transgress gendered conventions while tracing the degree to which themes of gender disruption interact with other themes, such as his critique of race, his concern with death in his classic "boys' books," and his career-long preoccupation with twins and twinning. Approaching familiar texts in surprising new ways, Morris reexamines the relationship between Huck and Jim; discusses racial and gender crossing in Pudd'nhead Wilson; and sheds new light on Twain's difficulty in depicting the most famous cross-dresser in history, Joan of Arc. She also considers a number of his later "transvestite tales" that feature transgressive figures such as Hellfire Hotchkiss, who is hampered by her "misplaced sex." Morris challenges views of Twain that see his work as reinforcing traditional notions of gender along sharply divided lines. She shows that Twain depicts cross-dressing sometimes as comic or absurd, other times as darkly tragic--but that even at his most playful, he contests traditional Victorian notions about the fixity of gender roles. Analyzing such characteristics of Twain's fiction as his fascination with details of clothing and the ever-present element of play, Morris shows us his understanding that gender, like race, is a social construction--and above all a performance. Gender Play in Mark Twain: Cross-Dressing and Transgression broadens our understanding of the writer as it lends rich insight into his works.


If you wish to view the free essay of Pudd'nhead Wilson, you must donate an original to our web site so that we can grow our collection of free essays, book reports and term papers. Click to donate and then view the entire . Science--Pudd'nhead Wilson's fingerprinting--and public opinion or tradition are opposing forces in this novel. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Which triumphs in the end? Are the two aligned in some ways? After the trial, Pudd'nhead is considered a successful lawyer and the townspeople finally respect him. "Troop after troop of citizens came to serenade Wilson, and require a speech, and shout themselves hoarse over every sentence that fell from his lips -- for all his sentences were golden now, all were marvellous" (Twain 143). He is elected mayor of the town, but his friends are all gone, and he has no one with which to enjoy his success. "And this is the man the likes of us have called a pudd'nhead for more than twenty years. He has resigned from that position, friends. Yes, but it isn't vacant -- we're elected" (Twain 166). ... Roxy is establishing her dominance over Tom, she equates him with a dog (90). Mark Twain understands the relationship that he has with the reader and exploits this opportunity to insert himself into the dominant position. In his essay, Pudd’nhead Wilson ...