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