The main characters revolving around each of these pieces of literature, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Emma by Jane Austen, and My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, have been positioned in different facets of society.
Each of the protagonists have been endowed with qualities, traits and profiles that can strike attention for a reader, for an easier follow-through on each character’s progression or development as a character, at the same time the novel nears it climax and end.
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Huck, Emma and Asher have detached themselves from their old principles and life perspectives, as described by a number of literary techniques, and have entered into a new phase of self-realization, consciousness, awareness – the becoming of a new person.
Huckleberry Finn, among the three protagonists, is considered to have been immersed in the most unlucky circumstances. Coming from the bottom sector of the society, Huck, as a child had formed a grave loathing for the society. He should undergo an enduring series of obstacles before he becomes the final and developed character in the story. Along the progression of the novel, Huck has turned this loathing into a substantial amount of doubt and distrust, but, we continually see Huck repeatedly rejected and violated by society. It was as if society turned him down when he desperately needed it.
Consequently, Huck conjures up his independence from this society. Coming from this point, we can extrapolate Huck’s development as a character. There would only be two ways in Huck’s face, either he becomes a part of the society he despises or totally cut himself away from it.
Emma Woodhouse, the female protagonist of Jane Austen, is a brilliant woman with all the money and approval of everyone around her. But, as the story progresses, we may realize that Emma could have had much of what she should actually have.
Taken from the novel, Emma might have been to controlling of circumstances – things going her own way, and must have viewed a little too good of herself. This takes us to Austen’s clues on Emma’s flaws that shall play a great deal on the future blossoming of events and conflict, as well as, Emma’s development as a character. This is important as one reads through the progression of the novel and Emma.
Asher Lev is the most distinct character of the three having rooted from a very restricted Jewish group. In his early years, Asher has developed an inclination towards the arts and eventually developed a talent for it.
Restricted his community is – religious, for that matter, Asher is obliged to submit himself to the strict rituals of being a Hasidic Jew. An internal conflict within Asher begins to boil as he must choose between art and religion. Questions, such as, obligation and passion, emotion and priority will be raised in the entire novel. And the same questions shall guide the reader into Asher Lev’s character development and the revelation of the novel itself.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is set before the eradication of slavery which was of very controversial value. And this setting has become the major stir in Huck’s character development. Huck Finn is a non-conformist. He doesn’t readily accept the conventions of society. In this novel, slavery as a major subject, Huck was faced with decisions that heavily moral in nature. These decisions, which were controversial enough, left a very significant change in Huck Finn’s emotional and moral development. This is evident as he helps a slave, Jim, to find his way to freedom.
Huck Finn may have had a difficult time overcoming societal pressures on his non-conformism but this is Mark Twain’s way of characterizing Huck as a person who is independent of society – which is the very point of his development as a character. Huckleberry Finn developed as a character because of his own doing. He developed as an individual by drawing his own conclusions of the world apart from himself. His choice, his non-conformism, diverged into many factors that molded his final self in the novel.
Emma, on the other hand, extracts her character development from the conflicts within the society. This is her distinction from Huck Finn. She hails from an affluent sector of the society and has been chained in its very strong limitations – confined in what is acceptable at the time. Her matchmaking practice has caused her the very same conflicts that shall allow her development as a character in the novel.
These conflicts, apart from development, showed Emma a better picture of how her actions created an inflicting effect on the people in her society. This is the root of Emma’s self-realization.
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