The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are the true identities of the Duke of Bilgewater and the Dauphin in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? What clue does Twain give to their identities?

Expert Answers info

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

At the end of Chapter XIX of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck comments on the conversations that he overhears between the two men who have jumped into the skiff that he has taken ashore: 

It didn't take me long to make up my mind that these liaars warn't no kings nor dukes, at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds. 

While their true names are never revealed in Twain's novel, Huck recognizes them for con men as they speak of the reasons why they have been run out of town.  The younger, who claimes to be the Duke of Bilgewater has been selling a substance which removes tartar from teeth; however it also removes the enamel.  The older man, who boasts of being the Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and the rightful King of France, has been leading a temperance league, but has been discovered drinking.

Since the two men have "big fat ratty-looking carpet-bags," Huck suspects that they are carpetbaggers, or opportunists, who have come to the area to take advantage of the unsuspecting.  Besides this observation, Huck recognizes the two men as similar to his Pa,

If I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial