Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the novel as a whole and to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help get you started.

  • Topic #1
    Humor is a tool Mark Twain uses in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to satirize the evil in his society. Write a paper analyzing the satiric situations in the novel that suggest the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of society’s prevailing attitudes toward the institutions of religion, education, and slavery before the Civil War.

    I. Thesis Statement: Mark Twain exposes the evil in his society by satirizing the institutions of religion, education, and slavery.

    II. Twain satirizes religion
    A. The Widow Douglas and Miss Watson
    1. Miss Watson’s prayers are never answered
    2. Widow Douglas tucks her head down to pray before meals
    B. The Grangerfords and the Shepherdsons
    1. The feuding families sit calmly in church together
    2. The families have forgotten the reason for their feud
    C. Huck’s decision not to turn Jim in as a runaway slave
    1. Huck decides to “go to hell” rather than turn in his friend Jim
    2. Huck struggles with his conscience over harboring a runaway slave

    III. Twain satirizes education
    A. Huck drops out of school
    1. Twain uses Huck, an uneducated narrator, to criticize society’s corruption, including education
    B. Tom Sawyer reads books, but his plans and schemes fail because they are impractical
    C. Jim is a loving father-figure to Huck. He cannot read but is wise beyond book-learning

    IV. Twain satirizes slavery
    A. The slaves come in for prayers at night at the Widow Douglas’ house
    B. Jim escapes from his owner
    1. He has overheard her saying that she cannot resist selling Jim.
    2. He would be sold down river where slaves were mistreated
    C. Jim wants to go north to earn his freedom
    1. To free his wife and children, Jim plans to buy them
    D. Jim and Huck’s close relationship
    1. On the raft, away from civilization, Jim and Huck are almost equals

    V. Conclusion: The satire in this novel is a critical commentary on the hypocrisy in the institutions of religion, education, and slavery.

  • Topic #2
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often referred to as “The Great American Novel.” Write a paper showing how the novel vividly depicts the American scene along the Mississippi River before the Civil War. Describe the...

(The entire section is 1159 words.)