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Puddnhead

Wilson
Chapters 1 - 10

Humor
Sigmund Freud

The Process of Humor


#1: Humorist and
Spectator
Humorist dispenses the
humor

Spectator derives enjoyment


from the humorist

#2: Humorist derides the


object
Object need not take any
active share in producing
the humorous effect

Theres a form of energy being transferred through


jokes. Even if someone tells a terrible joke, the listener
could either find it funny or be completely dismayed by
it. Humor arises when we are surprised or shocked by
something we couldnt figure out. This explains why
some jokes lose their humor once youve heard them.

--Israel McGavin, Curb Your Enthusiasm: A Psychoanalytic View

Characteristics of Humor
Catharsis liberating

element (purgation of
emotions)
Triumph of Narcissism
Invulnerability
Denial of the Claim of
Reality
Triumph of the Pleasure
Principle

Humor as a Defense Mechanism


outlet for discharging psychic energy and reducing the
emotional impact of negative events
The Superego functions as the parental figure of the
psyche
In some way, it serves to purge the emotions, while at the
same time comforting the ego
How is the humor in the novel cathartic for the readers?

SATIRE ETYMOLOGY
satire [sat()r] NOUN
Etymology: from the Latin word satur
(meaning full) and lanx satura
(meaning medley of fruits)
Definition: the use of humor, irony,
exaggeration, or ridicule to expose
and criticize people's stupidity or
vices, particularly in the context of
contemporary politics and other
topical issues.
synonyms: mockery, ridicule,
derision, scorn, caricature, irony,
parody, lampoon

VERBAL IRONY
Satiric artists often use caricature;
satiric writers, also seeking to
persuade by means of ridicule, often
use verbal irony.
In irony of this sort there is a contrast
between what is said and what is
meant.
Words of praise may be meant to
imply blame
Purpose: These passages of ridicule
(especially verbal irony) appear in
arguments, like reasons or like
appeals to emotions, in an effort to
persuade the hearer to accept the
speaker's point of view.

Example:

When Shakespeare's Cassius says, "Brutus is an


honorable man," he means his hearers to think that
Brutus is dishonorable.

Pretending that morally bad


things are morally good (or vice
versa) is a form of irony.

PURPOSE
While the main purpose of satire is to
entertain through humor, its
fundamental aim is:
to critique societal norms and ideology
with wit.
to comment on the precarious nature
of socially imposed constructs
to punish vice and impose/restore
social order
to expose the hypocrisy of cultural
myths and societal beliefs

TYPES OF SATIRE
Horatian Satire
named for the Roman satirist Horace (65
8 BCE),
playfully criticizes the absurdities and
folly of society through gentle, mild, and
light-hearted humor
goal is to heal the situation with smiles,
rather than by anger
often leads audience to laugh at
themselves when they realize that they
share the characteristics of the mocked
subjects
Examples: The Onion, The Colbert
Report, The Simpsons, etc.

Juvenalian Satire

named for the writings of the Roman satirist Juvenal (late


first century early second century AD),

abrasive and contemptuous derision that savagely


ridicules evil

is more contemptuous and abrasive than the Horatian.

akin to as hominem and straw man fallacies

Examples: Swift's A Modest Proposal and even


modern music (see the example in the following slide)

EXAMPLE: MARK TWAINS


HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1884)
the satire in Huckleberry Finn is often
misunderstood and misconstrued as
Mark Twains actual opinions.
Twain hated slavery and used
Huckleberry Finn to point out the
inhumane way that slave-owners
treated slaves.
Twain uses the characters of Jim and
Miss Watson, Jims owner, to
highlight the hypocrisy of slavery.

Example:

Miss Watson is called a good Christian woman so that


readers may realize that what she purports to stand for
is in direct opposition to her actions.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
What is the function of satire in a democratic society?
To what extent is satire more (or less) effective than formal arguments?
What are the drawbacks of satire? Does this mode of persuasion weaken
the arguments put forth by the writers? (For example: Would Twains
argument have been more or less convincing if he had opted to
bluntly malign Americans for racism and slavery?)

Mark Twain
Biography

sole, incomparable, the Lincoln of our


literature
--William Dean Howells

Do you agree? To what extent do you find Twain an iconic America


n writer?

Samuel Clemens: A Life


born on November 30 1835 in Florida Missouri the sixth of seven
children.
moved to the small frontier town of Hannibal Missouri on the banks
of the Mississippi River.
Missouri at the time was a fairly new state (it had gained statehood in 1821)
It was also a slave state. Sams father owned one slave and his uncle owned
several.

As a child, Sam spent summers on his uncles farm playing in the slave quarters
and listening to tall tales and slave spirituals.

http://www.history.com/topics/mark-twain (3:19)

Context

Publication: originally published on


28 November 1894, as The Tragedy of
Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy of
Those Extraordinary Twins.
Genre: began as a farce about
Siamese twins -- two different
temperaments inseparably linked in
one body -- and wound up becoming
an irony about two babies -- one slave,
one free -- switched in their cradles.

Social Context of the 1890s


Anti-Negro fiction
The Reconstruction (1865

1877)
Industrial Revolution
First mappings of the West
First transcontinental
railroad
Plessy vs. Ferguson

Literature and Art

Realism and Regionalism

Anti-Romantic and Anti-Transcendentalist

Pragmatic, democratic, and experimental

Drew from lived experiences

Setting & Characters

Setting = the location, time,


culture
Location = Where the story takes
place (there can be several)
Time = Time of day, season,
historical period, etc.
Culture = Social milieu in which the
characters act out the storys events
(includes religious values, social
mores, political beliefs, philosophical
outlook)
Environment = weather, topography,
architecture, etc.

Why is setting important?

Authors convey mood, motivation, and theme through the setting.

Setting
Location, Time, Society

Setting
The setting of this novel is the world that
Clemens grew up in, although Twain
calls the village Dawson's Landing and
has moved it several hundred miles down
the Mississippi River.
idyllic setting: sleepy, natural
romantic and familiar Edenic image
adapted pastoral setting
hiding something uglier: white-washed,
concealed, it is a "slave-holding town"

property, ownership, and possession (cat to prove title)

boxed in, controlled, contained, in order ("concealed from sight


by tangles of rose vines")
cat (well-fed, well-petted, property revered, perfect home with a
title)

populace (proud of ancestry without stain or blemish)

Examine the Setting of the Story


Where is the story set? In what

time is it set?
What might be the significance of
this particular time and location?
What mood is evoked through the
authors description of the setting?
How does the setting seem to
impact the characters?
How does the setting suggest the
themes of the story?

Analyze the culture of the town in which the story is set. Describe
the social and religious values of the townspeople.

How does the community differ from that of the reader?

What does this story suggest about the authors attitudes towards
the relationship between society and the individual?

Character
Protagonist, Antagonist, Supporting Characters

Characterization
Protagonist, Antagonist, Supporting Characters
What motives determine the characters course of action?
What are the most revealing aspects (thoughts, words, actions, etc.) of
the character?
How does the author reveal this persons character? (Through action? Inaction?
Dialogue? Actions of others?)

How does the character change and develop?


How well can you sympathize with him/her?
What flaws does this character possess?
What internal conflicts make life difficult for the protagonist?

Characters
We talk about characters in two ways:
1. As real people
We discuss characters in the same way we do real people. We
observe and interpret their words, actions, appearances, and
background, as well as what others say about them.
2. As fictional creations
We look at characterizationthe process authors use to create
their characters. Are characters presented directly or
indirectly? Are they convincing? Are they developed? Do they
change by the end of the story?

Dynamic vs. Static Characters


A good novel is character-driven with rich, rounded characters whose
personalities are revealed through:

Dynamic characters who changeby learning a life lesson or growing in some


way by the end. These are usually fully developed as well as emotionally and
psychologically complex.
Static characters who remain unchanged at the story's end. These are usually
flat charactersone dimensional; little or no emotional or psychological
depth.
Stock charactersstereotypes, even caricatures (wise old man, clever
servant, rich wastrel, naive ingenue); also demonstrate no development.
Question to ask: To what degree does a character change or grow by the end of
the story?

Character is revealed through:


Speech (Use words to conceal, Say one thing but do another, Not say
what they mean, Say moreor lessthan they mean)
Actions (Is the action thoughtful or impulsive? Is the action
appropriate? What motivation lies behind the action? Is the action
influenced by the past?)
Appearance (attire, physical stature, physical condition)
Background and history (Gender, Race, Family, Socio-economic
class, Religion)
What others say about them (From a trusted or unreliable source?
Based on complete or only partial information? Objective or biased?
Rational or emotional (perhaps resentment or blind devotion)?

Examine the characters in both stories.


Do you view the protagonist as a
heroic figure? Why (not)?
Analyze other characters,
focusing on their physical
descriptions, status in town,
behavior, and the functions they
play in the story.
Compare and contrast
similarities and differences of
two characters.

Puddnhead Wilson
capacity for irony; no one can read his irony
outsider/isolated = chooses to live on the
extreme of the western verge of town; must
be labeled and contained

concerned about law and order; boundaries


and categorizing

element of the supernatural: palm reader;


maps people's destinies by reading prints;
Roxy sees him as a witch doctor ("covert
twinkle")

less blinded by racial prejudice


destabilizing element: early contender in
the novel

only person capable of restoring order

Roxy
Twains most complex woman

character
calls into question: law,
genealogy, custom, privilege
fear of uncertain reality of slave
existence for her child
her physiognomy calls into
question aspects of self, race, etc.
challenges fictions of law

Tom
Exhibits villainous traits:
Criminal behavior (theft), vice
(gambling), hostility (bullying),
etc.
Engages in masquerade to cross
social barriers of race, class, and
gender
Does the narrator wish for us to
sympathize with (or at least pity)
Tom? Show proof from the text.

Valet de Chambers
May be the sole victim in
this tragedy because he
never takes part in any
wrongdoing.
Can Chambers ever be
fully integrated back into
his proper place in
society? Why (not)?

Luigi and Angelo


Fraternal twins, world-travelers, side

show performers
Find immediate acceptance in DL
(Motif: Insiders/Outsiders)
Claim to be the children of Italian
nobility (Theme: Nobility,
Appearance)
Luigis secret: once committed murder to
protect his brother. (Motif: Secrecy)
Tragic Flaw: Luigi's temper leads him to
a due with Tom.

Narration
POV, etc.

Types of Narrators
Participant (can be the protagonist or
the observer)
Before I could reply that he [Gatsby]
was my neighbor dinner was
announced; wedging his tense arm
imperatively under mine Tom Buchanan
compelled me from the room as though
he were moving a checker to another
square.
--from The Great Gatsby, chapter 1
(Note: Nick Carraway is an observer of
Jay Gatsbys life here)

Nonparticipant (is not a character in the story)

Harry had taken one step toward it when a slithering sound made
him freeze where he stood. A bush on the edge of the clearing
quivered Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came
crawling across the ground like some stalking beast.

--from Harry Potter and the Sorcerors Stone

Points of View
Omniscient (all-knowing)
Editorial Omniscience
vs. Impartial Omniscience
Limited Omniscience or Selective
Omniscience or Third-Person Limited (ie.
Harry Potter books)

Objective Point of View (birds eye view


with no interior monologue; see page 30)
Innocent or Nave Narrator (ie. if
Oedipus narrated his story)
Unreliable Narrator (see Poe)

Thus ever does the gross Fatality of Earth exult in its invariable
triumph over the immortal essence, which, in this dim sphere of
half-development, demands the completeness of a higher state.
Yet, had Aylmer reached a profounder wisdom, he need not thus
have flung away the happiness, which would have woven his
mortal life of the self-same texture with the celestial.

--from Hawthornes The Birthmark

Analyzing Narration & POV


Who is the unnamed narrator in this story? For whom
does he (or she) profess to be speaking? Why does the
story seem better told from this point of view than from
the main characters point of view?
What kind of narrator/POV is depicted: Editorial
omniscience? Impartial omniscience? Objective POV?
Unreliable narrator?

Plot
Conflicts, Climax, Resolution

Plot = Structure, chronology, conflict,


and revelation of the events in the story.
Expositionbackground information;

usually at the beginning, but not always.


Rising Actionseries of events
involving conflict, which creates tension
and suspense.
Climaxthe peak, or high-point, of
tension, a turning point in the action.
Denouementthe falling-off of action
after the climax; the conflict finds
resolution.
Conclusiona wrap-up, sometimes
epilogue.

Plot
Freytags Pyramid
Exposition: Meet Wilson and Roxy in
Dawsons Landing (DL)
Inciting Incident: Wilson fingerprints
the babies; then, Roxy switches them
Rising Action: Roxy attempts to
conceal Toms identity; Wilson
attempts to fit into DL society
Climax: Tom discovers his heritage?
Tom is tried in court?

Heros Journey

Everyday World: Wilson and Roxy in Dawsons Landing

Call to Adventure: Wilson comes to town

Threshold: Roxy switches the babies

Trials and Tribulations: Roxy avoids detection; Toms behavior


grows sinister

Underworld: Tom commits crimes and is tried in court

Return with the Boon: Wilson is the tragic hero?

Study the Plot Structure


Review the exposition. What kind of

background information do we receive


in the opening paragraphs?
What possible evidence of
foreshadowing do you notice?
What is the storys central conflict?
Who is the protagonist? What does s/he
want?
What is at stake for the protagonist in
the conflict?
What stands in the way of the
protagonist achieving his/her goals?

What are the main events that take place in the story? How does each event
relate to the protagonists struggle?

Where do you find the storys climax?

How is the conflict resolved?

Does the protagonist succeed in achieving his/her goals?

What is the impact of success, failure, or a surprising outcome on the


protagonist?

Themes & Motifs


Plus: Symbolism & Irony

Themes
& Motifs, Symbols, Irony

Lets start with the


Title

Titles can
State the storys theme. (ie. )
Point to key aspect in the novel. (Pride and
Prejudice)
Highlight the storys irony. (School of Wives)

So, whats the significance of the original title: The Tragedy of Puddnhead
Wilson, especially in regards to the storys content?

IsPuddnhead Wilsonindeed a tragedy? Is it as great a tragedy asOedipus


the King? If so, who is the tragic hero? Tom? Chambers? Wilson? Roxy?
Why?

Substantiate your response by first explaining the characteristics of


tragedy and tragic heroes. What is tragedy? Can the hero also be a villain?
How does a tragedy differ from a melodrama? Why do tragedies give us
pleasure?

Then, point to specifics from the text that reveal how the novel functions
(or does not function) as a tragedy.

Context
How does the story make
evident that it was written
during Twains dark
period?
How do the events of the
story reflect the historical
context in which it was
written (ie. The
Reconstruction, which
included the rise of the
KKK and black codes)?

How does Twain manipulate and deconstruct stereotypes about


African Americans?

Themes
Nurture vs. Nature
Slavery and Miscegenation
Liminality of Social Constructs
Performative masquerades

Environmental Determinism
Obsession with Property (and
its reductive influence on
individuals)
Law & Fictions of Law

Democratic Consensus

Democratic process ("Mr. Wilson stood elected", "first day's


verdict made him a fool", "Roxy's black side outvoted the rest")

Doublings and Twinnings


Inheritance and Genealogy

Southern aristocracy (code of honor)

Motifs
Dog
research on South secession threats with
this statement)
general dog = the populace
implies ownership or desires for
ownership; mocking about slave holding;
killing Tom would lead to Chambers' death
too
legalistic determinism
Secrecy: Luigis murderous past, Toms
gambling and theivery, Roxys babyswitching

Appearance and Identity (seeing things on surface level)

Roxy - cross gender, cross racial (blackens face)

imitation negro

palmistry/fingerprinting (significance of Wilson's hobbies); one's


identity is on the surface of one's skin; so, ID is biological and
inherent

tropes of disguise and twinning and doubling

Literature as Argument
Interpretation, Evaluation, Reflection

Interpretation
Ascertaining between the many readingsthe authors
meaning, the meanings accumulated over time, and the
meaning absorbed by modern readers

There are opposing interpretations; however,


interpretations must always be substantiated with textual
evidence

Interpretation Questions
Is Tom a villain who is meant to be despised by the
readers? Or Is Tom a victim of his circumstances, a
veritable Oedipus whom the audience pities?

Evaluation
Prompts writers to judge a text,
Its raining outside.Fact, not open to argument
I like vanilla.Opinion of Personal Taste, not open to argument
This is a really good book.Evaluative Statement, open to
argument (requires us to showwhythe book is really good.

Based on stated or unstated assumptions

Evaluation Question
IsPuddnhead Wilsonindeed a tragedy? Is it as great a tragedy
asOedipus the King? If so, who is the tragic hero? Tom?
Chambers? Wilson? Roxy? Why?
Substantiate your response by first explaining the
characteristics of tragedy and tragic heroes. What is tragedy?
Can the hero also be a villain? How does a tragedy differ from a
melodrama? Why do tragedies give us pleasure?
Then, point to specifics from the text that reveal how the novel
functions (or does not function) as a tragedy.

Philosophical Reflections
Concerned with theoretical questions like:
Does a work of art offer anything that can be called
truth? Does our experience with a work of art affect our
character? Does a work of art have meaning in itself, or is
the meaning simply whatever anyone wishes to say it is?
Does PW tell us anything about life, or is it just an
invented story?

Literary Theory
Feminist, Postcolonial, Psychoanalytical

Feminist Theory
InOn Deconstruction(1982), a study of contemporary literary theory,
Jonathan Culler remarks that feminist criticism has often stressed reading
as a woman. This concept, Culler says affirms the continuity between
womens experience of social and familial structures and their experiences
as readers. Do you agree with his suggestion that men and women
interpret literary works differently? Consider Twains PW: identify and
discuss passages (including specific phrases and images) in it to which
men and women readers might (or might not) respond very differently.

Postcolonial Theory
Would you view Roxy as complicit in the downfall of her
son? Or would you say that due to her position of
subjugation as both a slave and a woman that she had no
other agency (no other means for power) than to try to
grasp it through her son?
To support your conclusion, you may wish to compose a
feminist/ postcolonial interpretation wherein you offer
evidence regarding the proper role of slaves and women
during the nineteenth century.

Psychoanalytic Theory
Analyze each of the major characters in the storyTom,
Roxy, Wilson, Chambers, Luigi.
Who is this person? What motivates this character? Are
we meant to despise him/her or empathize with him/her?
How can characteristics of psychoanalysis be applied to
this character. Does s/he demonstrate repression,
projection, displacement, or anxieties (fears of
abandonment/betrayal, etc.)? How is the relationship
between the id, ego, and superego at work within this
story? Explain.

Group Collaboration

Question Design
1. Produce questions designed to focus and attract student attention. Ask as
many questions as possible. Do not stop to judge, discuss, or answer any of
them. Change statements into questions.
2. Improve the questions: Analyze the differences between open- and closedended questions, by practicing changing one type to the other. Then categorize
your questions into 1 of 2 categories. Change the close to open and v/v. How
does each type affect the depth, quality, and value of the information obtained?
3. Prioritize your questions: Choose 3 questions you most want to explore further,
according to themes identified in our reading.
4. Reflect on what you have learned: How has the exercised contributed to your
thinking and learning processes?

Class Writing
Directions: Respond to one of the selected
discussion questions in paragraph format (1.5
pages). You must incorporate at least 2 quotes from
the story to support your conclusions). You will have
20 minutes to complete this response.

Group Thought Question


Choose a scene from Puddn'head
Wilson where Twain uses satire to
illustrate theme. Describe the
nature of the satire and the effect
on the novel as a whole.
How is the use of (dark) humor and
irony similar to and different from
Swift's "A Modest Proposal"?
What instances in the novel reveal
Twain's satire of slavery / racism?

ACTivity
Isolate the implicit and explicit
arguments made by the author, the
narrator, or the characters in the
first 4 chapters.
Identify the flaws (logical fallacies,
contradictions, etc.) in these
arguments.
Launch a counterargument.
After your presentation to the class,
others will have an opportunity to
rebut your statements.

Example: By painting the two nonreligious characters (Judge Driscoll


and Wilson) as the most sage and independent, Twain seems to argue
that religious people are foolish conformists.

This is flawed because it relies upon hasty generalization and


stereotype
It can also be argued that Driscoll cannot be a total free thinker
because he carries out the law, a practice dependent on societal
mores

Relevant Links

Twains Bio - http://www.history.com/topics/mark-twain


Background of the Novel - http://twain.lib.virginia.edu/wilson/pw
hompg.html
Twains Humor - https://amphilsoc.org/sites/default/files/proceedi
ngs/150305.pdf

Plessy vs. Ferguson Dissenting Opinion http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/nclc375/harlan.html


Example of Student Literary Analysis
http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=
1007&context=kjur