The similarities between these picaresque texts are many, including: autobiographical elements, satirical voice, harsh criticism of aristocracy, dark comedy, incredible comedic physical abuse, characters with similar traits, similar plot devices, similar chapter titles, and both feature the language of the common person (instead of the "high" language of the upper class). Twain loved and admired Don Quixote and includes several direct references to the novel in his work, including the quote from Chapter 3 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The majority of the scholarship comparing these two books relies on a study by Olin Harris Moore from 1922, in which he claims that Tom Sawyer is Mark Twain's answer to Don Quixote. Moore's article has been the basis for the majority of comparisons between the two works. This essay focuses on comparisons between Mark Twain's Jim (rather than Harris' suggestion of Tom) and Cervantes' Don Quixote, most notably their admirable traits, and their elusive dreams.
Michael MacBride is a doctoral candidate at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, working on his dissertation focusing on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century American literature. He currently teaches at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he earned his Masters of Arts in Literature.