The lynching him and surprisingly the mob
The Duke and Dauphin constantly and cruelly mess with Jim’s precarious status as a runaway and eventually use this to their own advantage when they print the fake wanted posters advertising a reward for Jim’s capture. Moreover, the fact that the duke and the dauphin run their first scam at a sacred event, the religious meeting, shows their incredible malice. Although, it’s also suggested that the religious revival meeting may be as much of a scam as any of the “royal” pair’s shenanigans. Continuing what we have seen throughout Huckleberry Finn, nearly everyone Huck and Jim meet on the river is an unsavory character or a liar in one way or another.
The Duke and Dauphin pull two more scams including collecting money for a fake mission trip and taking over a deserted print office and selling fake subscriptions to the local news paper. After waking up from a night of heavy drinking, the Duke attempts to recite the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet, which he obviously barely knows, adding in lines from other parts of Hamlet and even some lines from Macbeth. However, when Huck is in awe as he listens intently and thinks the Duke has a great talent for performing.
The group then goes to a small town in Arkansas where they see a rowdy drunk man get shot in front of his daughter by a man named Sherburn. After the shooting, a racist crowd gathers and goes to Sherburn’s house to lynch him. When the crowd goes to Sherburn’s house with the full intent to lynch him, after knocking down his fence, Sherburn gives a chilling speech on human nature and the mob mentality of the individual person.
Sherburn tells the mob that no one will be lynching him and surprisingly the mob chastened, then dispersed. Huck then goes to a circus which he thoroughly enjoys until a man, who pretends to be drunk, forces himself into the ring and tries to ride a horse, appearing to hang on for dear life. The crowd roars in amusement and excitement, except for Huck, who just cannot watch the poor man in apparent danger. That night, a small turn out of twelve people attend the duke’s performance, and they jeer throughout the entire show. The duke then prints another handbill, this time advertising a performance of The King’s Cameleopard. Huck’s reaction to the circus adds further depth to his seemingly simple character. The circus also illustrates just how fine the line is between spiritually enriching experience, legitimate entertainment, and downright fraud.
Huck’s concern for the apparently drunk performer on the horse is an elegantly constructed ending to this chapter. In a world like the one Twain depicts in the novel, one can no longer distinguish between authenticity and forgery, doom and deliverance. The Duke and The Dauphin put on a play in the town. The show starts off strong when the Dauphin comes on stage naked, except for body paint.
He gets the crowd howling with laughter. However, the crowd later nearly attacks the Duke and the Dauphin when they end the show after only a short performance. The people in the crowd, embarrassed at having been taken advantage of and basically stolen from, decide to protect their honor by making certain that everyone in the town gets ripped off as well, so after the performance, the crowd tells everyone else in town that the play was a delight. The second night, therefore, brings a capacity crowd. The third night however, is made up of the first two nights crowd waiting to get revenge. Huck and the Duke make a safe getaway to the raft before the show even starts. They ended up earning $465 in total. Jim is shocked that the apparent royals act so seedy and Huck explains that history shows nobles to be liars, thieves, and murderers, but his history knowledge is factually very questionable.
Huck sees no point in telling Jim that the Duke and the Dauphin are con men. Jim spends his night watches mourning for his wife and two children. Though it didn’t seem natural to him, Huck concludes that Jim loves his family as much as white men love theirs. Which is a major breakthrough for him because he was raised in one of the most racist parts of America at the time. Jim is torn apart when he hears a noise in the distance that reminds him of the time he beat his daughter Lizabeth for not listening to him, but it is revealed that when he was beating her, Jim didn’t realize that his daughter couldn’t hear his instructions because scarlet fever she had caught as a young child had left her deaf.
These chapters use satire to mask major underlying issues that Huck and Jim faced at the time as well as what the time period was like in the American south majorly racism. These chapters are very important for Huck and how his views on the world become altered from the circus and realizing something as simple as the fact that a black man can love his family as much as a white man can.