What themes develop in Pudd'nhead Wilson?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Character and perception are important themes in Pudd'nhead Wilson.  From the 'Whisper to the Reader' forward, Twain emphasizes and builds on the importance of character.  In the maxim from Pudd'nhead Wilson's calendar about character, Twain underscores how the good and sensible character of a person may be completely destroyed or misconstrued by ridicule or false assumptions.  Twain further elaborates on this theme with the arrival of David Wilson in the town of Dawson's Landing.  Because of Wilson's "fatal remark" about owning half a dog, the simple townspeople completely misjudged him as being an idiot, or "pudd'nhead" (4-5).  Through his character of Pudd'nhead Wilson, Twain explores how people's motives, character, and personality can be misjudged and misunderstood. 


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