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The Power of Superstition Essay

Religion without morality is a superstition and a curse, and morality without religion is impossible, said by Mark Hopkins. Mark Twain uses superstition to show people in the century he live were un-educated, many people thinks superstition is real, which is no scientifically proofed, and also creates interest for reading the novel of “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn”. For those people who think superstations are real and know a lot about superstition, superstition always makes them fear, and keeps them on their toes.

Jim is one of them, he knows a lot about superstition, and he thinks they are real. He always fears about doing something that might bring him bad luck, and always tells Huck about them. In the first chapter, Huck says a spider shrivel is a sign of bad luck, but it didn’t actually brings him bad luck. In chapter 10, Jim says, “druther see the new moon over my left shoulder as much as a thousand times than take up a snake-skin in my hand,”(Pg53) means see the new moon over my left shoulder will bring him bad luck, and touch snake skin even worse.

Later on, Huck touched snake skin and they actually got bad luck. Jim was bit by the dead snake’s family and wasn’t able to walk for a few days after Huck killed a snake and hid it under Jim’s bed. This is a irony from Mark Twain – it’s a superstition but they are real. When a person knows so much about superstition, he always thinks he is facing bad luck, because he always can think of a superstition that says it will brings him bad luck. Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition1.

In general, most people who believe in superstition are real are un-educated, they cannot view and understand mysterious events in a scientific way (proofed by someone or gene -rally acknowledged). As to they only have very limited knowledge, and they wants to explain some mysterious circumstances or events as best as they can, so they made up superstition, and let other people believe what they said are real, so superstitions formed, more and more people start believe it is real.

Most people in the town are uneducated, and they believe in superstition, to proof what I said, they use loaves of bread with quicksilver to find Huck’s dead body when Huck was considered as murdered and was sunk in the river. It is superstition because quicksilver doesn’t do anything to dead body, and quicksilver bread might sink into the river and they couldn’t find it.

Jim is also an example of uneducated person, in chapter 2, Jim says charms and cure disease by using something that was given by the devil, it is a superstition because only medicines and time can cure diseases, not devil’s super powers and devils are imaginational object, nothing proofs devils or some kind of super power are existing in the world. Another example of superstition in the book is take a dead cat and throw it at devil once an evil man die in a cemetery to cure warts. And superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational2.

Mark Twain also uses superstition to create interest for readers, they are funny, childish, and it is also a part of humour. Mark Twain made a joke in chapter 10, looking at the moon over left shoulder will cause bad luck, there is no difference between looking at something over left shoulder or right shoulder, but author gave Huck bad luck after that, so author made an irony. As to counting things that you will cook for dinner will cause bad luck in chapter 8, it makes no sense, but gives the novel some humour.

The only one that some thought is take a dead cat and throw it at the devil once an evil man died in a cemetery to cure warts, because dead cat is relates to underworld or that kind of places, where devil and people with super power live. The dead cat might borrow some super power from them, and cure warts. Mark Twain is also comparing between superstition and Christian. Superstition is not a formal religion, but Christian is a formal and organized religion. Jim is the representative of people who thinks superstitions are real.

Superstition is something that based on myth, magic, or irrational thoughts. And Christian is an organized religion, Christian have faith, belief, not only random, irrational thoughts. Through this novel, author wants to show people that people were un-educated at that year by telling us they believe in superstition as a religion, and also creates humour and interest to readers by using ironic stories. Superstition is not always bad, sometimes it creates interest in our life and make us happy, such as fortune cookies in Chinese restaurant and lucky numbers.


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