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The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain - Essay Example

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Twain uses twins and duality both as a device of the story and a tool to explore opposites and identity. Among the dualities he uses are the babies switched in the cradle, the Siamese twins Luigi and Angelo, the character of Pudd'nhead Wilson, the Free-Thinker's Society, the rum and anti-rum factions (the Sons of Liberty), the two disguises of Tom's (the young girl and the old woman), and the freethinkers vs…
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The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain

Download file to see previous pages... Slavery vs. freedom is a theme intertwined with identity and takes many forms. The motif of the Italian twins is intertwined with the theme of Tom and Chambers and intelligence is presented alongside stupidity.
The use of twins evolves into a search for identity, which weaves itself throughout the events of the story. Coupled with the search is Twains assertion that each person may mask his identity, but everyone is unique and cannot disguise the true self.
Tom and Chambers, though not twins by blood, are doubles who are contrasted, as well as linked. They were both born on the same day (24) and even the Judge could not tell them apart. Roxy says to Pudd'nhead, "Oh, I kin tell 'em 'part, Misto Wilson, but I bet Marse Percy couldn't, not to save his life" (30). Though they look alike, they are opposites. Tom is cruel and wanton owing to a pampered and dissipated childhood, while Chambers is an upright person, grown strong through hard work and a disciplined upbringing. They are also linked. Tom lives through Chambers; he stole "by proxy" since "Chambers did his stealing" (42).
False Tom, himself, embodies several dualities. He uses two disguises, both of the opposite sex. Within these disguises is the duality of one being a young girl and the other being an old woman (102). Another is his false conduct toward the Judge as the good son and the reality of his behavior as a wanton gambler and spendthrift. The flip side of this is the Judge's attitude toward false Tom. Wilson explains to the twins that false Tom is a devil who is an angel to the judge (139).
Twins-Luigi and Angelo
Luigi and Angelo Capello are the second set of twins introduced into the story. They, too, support the theme of doubling, but also expand upon it as well. The concept that they are physically joined, Siamese twins is implied when they speak about themselves as only one person, "[. . . ] we were their only child" (52). Also, when speaking of the man that tried to kill Angelo, Luigi says, "If I had let the man kill him, wouldn't he have killed me too" (85)
Angelo and Luigi, though joined, are opposites in several ways: one is fair one is not; one is a drinker, the other is not (88). They even differ in their perceptions-one liking Tom, the other not trusting him (80).
Their very introduction into the community carries a duality. The relationship with Aunt Patsy contrasts formality with familiarity. The two noblemen are not treated with ceremony. "All constraint and formality quickly disappeared, and the friendliest feeling succeeded. Aunt Patsy called them by their Christian names almost from the beginning (51).
Pudd'nhead Wilson
Each member of the two sets of twins represents an opposite of the other. Compare this with Pudd'nhead Wilson, who holds the duality within himself. He is known as the town fool, hence the nickname "Pudd'nhead." However, Roxie recognizes that he is smarter than the people of Dawson's Landing believe.
"Dey ain't but one man dat I's afeard of, en dat's dat Pudd'nhead Wilson. Dey calls him a pudd'nhead, en says he's a fool. My lan, dat man ain't no mo' fool den I is! He's de smartes' man in dis town, lessn' it's Jedge Driscoll or maybe Pem Howard." (38)
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