Archetypes in Huck Finn

In this article you will learn about the archetypes in Huck Finn, the classic novel by Mark Twain, which contains examples of various archetypes commonly seen in literature throughout the ages.

What are the Archetypes in Huckleberry Finn?

Huck is the archetypal hero of Twain’s story, facing many challenges along his archetypal journey and yet overcoming them all through his employment of heroic qualities of courage, bravery, intellect, determination, endurance, morality, and strength.

In a society which at the time was unable to see past the colour of another’s skin Huck sees the value of Jim as an individual and is determined to help him as a result.

He puts himself at risk in order to help others despite the potential cost.

Tom Sawyer is the archetypal sidekick to Huck as well as something of a shapeshifter.

Tom acts with absolute loyalty to Huck, enabling him to successfully achieve his quest, despite the cost to himself. He is also able to conceal his real identity and change into another form in able to help Huck set Jim free, making him something of a shapeshifter.

The archetypal villain of the story is Pap, a man who abuses his son terribly and sees his worth only in the form of the money which he believes Huck has.

He has no real interest in his son beyond the financial gain he can bring and is prepared to go to the lengths of violence and kidnapping against him, unconcerned about the impact this will have on the boy he is supposed to nurture.

Jim is the archetypal martyr of the story, the individual blamed by all in society for anything that goes wrong despite his absolute innocence and good heart.

Treated like a piece of property simply because of the colour of his skin, Jim is abused by a society which also treats him like the archetypal outcast, seeing him of value only in terms of the labour he can provide.

However, despite all that he has endured, Jim becomes something of an archetypal mentor and guide to Huck, sticking loyally by his side on their journey and guiding him through the difficulties they encounter using the greater wisdom he has about the world.

Huck Finn Book Summary

  • Huck Finn is rich from a previous adventure with friend Tom Sawyer.
  • He discovers his father Pap Finn is back in town but is concerned about his intentions due to his previous bad behavior.
  • Pap kidnaps Huck, taking him to a small cabin across the Mississippi River. Pap constantly mistreats Huck until Huck has enough and escapes along the Mississippi.
  • Huck meets Jim, a servant who has escaped in fear of being sold along the river.
  • Jim and Huck flee from an impending search down the river. Jim plans to escape to the free states, but Huck believes this is against religion and society.
  • During their journey down the river on a raft they encounter various characters that cause them problems, only feeling safe when on the raft.
  • Suddenly, they are seized by the Duke and the King and used to perform scams. However, one scam backfires, a frenzy erupts and they are able to flee as a result.
  • The Duke and the King join them but sell Jim as a slave to the Phelps.
  • Huck goes to save Jim, but the Phelps mistakenly think he is their nephew Tom Sawyer.
  • Huck plays along and when Tom arrives convinces him to pretend to be his brother Sid. They plan an escape which fails and Jim is recaptured.
  • Tom tells the truth to the Phelps, who realize Jim had already been set free in his late owners will and he is again freed. Huck contemplating his next adventure.

Huck Finn Archetype Examples

  • Hero
  • Sidekick
  • Shapeshifter
  • Villain
  • Martyr
  • Mentor
  • Martyr
  • Outcast
  • Mentor
  • Guide
  • Journey
  • Quest

Want more literary archetypes?

Go check out our extensive list of archetypes in literature to find out more about the characters seen in literature throughout the ages.

Discover Your Personality Type Today →