A discussion of the inescapable dilemma of democracy, as portrayed in Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”.
Huckleberry Finn All right, then, I’ll go to hell.” Six simple words; yet they have a very deep and complex meaning. The above quote was taken from Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and it illustrates how modern man copes with what Twain termed the “inescapable dilemma of Democracy.” In the novel, Huck is faced with the dilemma of whether or not to return Jim, the runaway slave, back to Jim’s owner. He faced with the decision that has plagued man for ages: choosing what is morally right, even though it is forbidden. This is Twain’s “inescapable dilemma.” In Roger Rosenblatt’s essay, “The Bill of Rights, Rosenblatt ends his essay with a single line: “Downriver we ride together, as ever, free to go to hell.” Rosenblatt’s final line in his essay makes an important point. It is not just Huck who is faced with decisions; Huckleberry Finn represents every man. A major problem, abortion, is an example of an inescapable dilemma that plagues modern man. In abortion, the doctor is faced with a difficult decision. Should he take the life of an unborn child? But what if the child was deformed, or was otherwise going to be born into a possibly unhealthy environment? Isn’t taking away the opportunity to live life morally wrong? There are many more questions that face the doctor as well as the mother of the fetus. So, as the mother and the doctor are faced with this dilemma, sometimes what they feel is morally correct is not legal- as abortion is illegal in certain states. Another example of an inescapable dilemma is guns. Should it be legal for man to have the power to purchase such an item whose sole purpose is to drain life in general; let alone human life? With the many stories of accidents because of children experimenting with guns, safety is an important issue. But, America is a free country; and the Second Amendment under the Constitution, though a limited amendment, allows citizens the right to bear arms. So is this amendment morally correct? Modern man deals with dilemmas such as these with anguish and frustration. Modern man has found a way to try to solve his problems mostly through petitions, rallies, picketing, writing letters to Congressmen, etc. But would one expect to see Huckleberry Finn writing an angry letter to his Congressman? Would one see him picketing Jim’s master’s house in Hannibal because he didn’t support slavery? It is highly unlikely. Instead, Huck simply tore up his note and uttered the famous quote. That is what makes him different from modern man. According to Rosenblatt, modern man needs to be more like Huckleberry Finn. Modern man needs to simply decide whether an action is morally correct or not, and act on his decision be it legal or illegal. Huck proved that actions speak louder than words by ripping up his note to Miss Watson. Thus, modern man needs to rip up his letters to Congressmen, throw away his signs for picketing, and do what is morally correct; because that is the only way to cope with the “inescapable dilemma of Democracy.”