Ernest Hemingway once said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” He continued, however, to say about the second part of the story, “If you read it, you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys [sic]. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating.” As with Huckleberry Finn, most of Mark Twain's long novels have often been criticized as incoherent in the development of thematic concerns and inconsistent in the description of characters. The same is particularly true of his quaint-looking combined story, The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson and the Comedy of Those Extraordinary Twins (1894). Yet, this book seems to me a tightly united and connected novel. In order to reveal this, the following questions will be discussed in this paper, especially in the light of the writer's traumatic autobiographical facts. Why is the title character and the hero of the former story, Wilson, mocked as a pudding-head? Why is this story titled Wilson's tragedy, not Roxy's nor Tom's? Why did Mark Twain add the latter farce of Those Extraordinary Twins to the former tragic drama of Pudd'nhead Wilson?
The Old Curiosity Shop has many puppet-like characters like Quilp, who are uproarious and personify the energy of life. Although many critics have conventionally argued the comparison between them expressed in good and evil, respectively, there is a more subtle expression of contrast in the complex characterization of Nell's grandfather. We discuss the grandfather's words and his silence which expose his violence.
While the grandfather always cares for Nell, he is scarcely a benign figure; his declared affection notwithstanding his dissatisfaction with his life leads him to torture her. The more he says that Nell is the only object of his life, the more he hurts her. His silence too is hurtful for her. On the long journey into the country, the grandfather keeps silent, although Nell barely manages to survive from one day to the next. Thus, in a way, the grandfather drives her to her death by his words and his silence without being aware of it.
We may therefore argue that Dickens describes this quiet violence of love as a means of expressing a subtle psychology, and in this noisy story, has tried it out as a new way of expression.