Metaphors in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The novel is about the happenings of the schoolboy main character, Thomas Sawyer, who is constantly guilty of misconduct and strife. He is presented in relation to his relatives: Aunt Polly, his half-brother Sid and cousin Mary, who lives in St. Petersburg, a little town off the shore of the Mississippi River.
The book has many metaphors, starting with St. Petersburg, which symbolizes the society, insects, used predominantly to show how unimportant man is, the cave which is the place of anguish for Tom Sawyer and the treasure, the goal the boys will finally achieve through courage and selflessness.
Mark Twain uses insects to show that men are insignificant, even as insignificant as an insect. During Judge Thatcher’s Sunday school visit, a character portrayed as rushing ‘hither and thither’ carrying a lot of books and making a fuss approved by the insect authorities.
Twain uses the insect metaphor again when he is describing agonizing because his decision to keep silent over the murder may get Muff Potter hanged. In the beginning, he pictures himself as a bug which can easily be crushed with the smallest quantity of artillery and then he ironically pictures himself as an insect with the turf knocked from underneath.
Additionally, Twain uses actual insects in other scenes to comment ironically on the events. One example is when Tom when in church, is more fascinated by a house fly cleaning itself than the prayer he should pay attention to. Another example is when a bug and a poodle capture the attention of the entire congregation, which seems to believe a bug is more interesting or important than a religion.
- St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is a town filled with many of the components of a modern society, such as laws, education system, religious beliefs, economics, medicine. Twain uses this opportunity to mock them all. All the challenges the characters have to face are ones every reader can easily relate to even today. In the same time, the fact that Tom and his friends escaped the city to Jackson’s island symbolizes their