Essay, Research Paper: Pudd'nhead Wilson

Literature: Mark Twain

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The book, Pudd’nhead Wilson, seems like a modern day soap opera. It has one
main theme with other stories and subplots that revolve around it. With all
these stories, Mark Twain must of had many influences to help him write this
wonderful book. Before we begin to discuss that, let me give you a little
background on his book. Contrary to the title Pudd’nhead Wilson, the main
character, to me, seems to be Roxana’s son Valet de Chambers/Tom Driscoll. Why
the reason for the two names? Well, let me explain. Roxy is 1/16 part black, but
that still makes here black and a slave. She belonged to Percy Driscoll, who had
son named Tom. Tom was born around the same time that Roxy’s son, Chambers,
was. Both boys looked remarkably alike, since Chambers is only 1/32 part black,
he too looked like white boy. So, in order to save her baby boy from getting
sent down the river, she switches the two babies. It seems almost like the
twinned, but unrelated story of the Prince and the Pauper (
Most of the story revolves around Roxy’s son, Tom/Chambers, but there are some
other subplots mixed in with their tale. Another plot that you would read, would
be about the extraordinary twins. These Italian twins, Luigi and Angelo Capello,
come to Dawson’s Landing to rent a room from old Widow Cooper. The whole town
quickly becomes infatuated with their stories of royalty and far away places.
While reading, one can’t help to wonder if these twins are lying about their
lavish lives to the naive towns people. The actual story of Pudd’nhead Wilson
himself is and interesting one. His real name before the dubbed him Pudd’nhead
Wilson is David Wilson. He’s a young lawyer, who just moved into the small
town. On his first day there, he made a comment to a couple of the locals that
he would regret for many, many years to come. This is the same time when he’d
become known as Pudd’nhead Wilson. Later in the story it shows how he finally
over comes that nickname after many years of living with it by using his unusual
finger print collection he’s been keeping. In the book you will also read
about a murder, a trial, and a prophecy. One may wonder where Mark Twain’s
influences came from. Well, it all starts in his home town of Hannibal,
Mississippi ( In many
of his books he models the town off of where he grew up and this is also true
for the village of Dawson’s Landing in Pudd’nhead Wilson. Even though he
moved the village a couple hundred miles down the Mississippi, you still see
influences from his childhood. Before Twain ever thought of writing Pudd’nhead
Wilson, he first wrote Those Extraordinary Twins. After he finished writing
Those Extraordinary Twins, he wrote a letter to Fred Hall, in which he said,
“I begin, today, to entirely re-cast and re-write the first two-thirds -- new
plan, with two minor characters, made very prominent, one major character
cropped out, and the Twins subordinated to a minor but not insignificant place.
The minor character will now become the chiefest, and I will name the story
after him -- Pudd’nhead Wilson (”
At first, Pudd’nhead Wilson, was going to be a farce about Siamese twins (mttwins).
Instead, it turned out to be a story of irony of two almost identical babies
switched at birth. One was white and the other was only 1/32 part black. That
small fraction made Chambers a slave and doomed to a life of poverty, abuse, and
fear of being sent down the river, even though he look exactly like a white
person. Mark Twain originally had the book published under the name The Tragedy
of Pudd’nhead Wilson and The Comedy of Those Extraordinary Twins (pwhompg). It
was first published in America on November 28, 1894 (pwhompg).Now, you can see
the book as just Pudd’nhead Wilson. It’s funny how Mr. Twain calls it the
tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, when in the end he redeems himself and is seen
as popular and prestigious. Wouldn’t you consider that more of a success and
not a tragedy?
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