In the Duke and King/raft converstion part (chapter 20 and 21), what impact does the satire have on the reader? What is the reader's mood through this satire?

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gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In these two chapters, the duke plans for himself and the king to put on a Shakespearean performance when they come to a suitable town. This is only one of their many plans to try and make some money. Their conversation shows that really they are ill-fitted for such a performance; they don't have any talent (although the duke is clearly the more literate and knowledgeable of the two). The element of ridicule is emphasised by the fact that they plan for the king - an unkempt old man - to play Juliet, and the duke further cobbles together various bits and pieces of passages from Shakespeare to produce a speech which he declares is a single soliloquy, from Hamlet. We as readers laugh at their outrageous attempts at conveying high art, but we also realise through this satire that the communities in the riverside towns are so ignorant that they would probably enjoy this kind of nonsense - they aren't educated or sophisticated enough to really appreciate Shakespeare. Certainly, in this part of the book, the riverside communities are generally shown to be really quite squalid, deprived, and even violent. It is not a flattering picture which Twain gives - and in such an environment, rogues such as the king and duke probably feel quite at home.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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