The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 23 Summary

Instructor: Trisha Fyfe

Trisha has taught college and K-12 English, reading, writing, and math. She has a master's degree in teaching.

After a disappointing turn-out to their first show, the Duke and the Dauphin begin preparations for a new comedy performance, The Royal Nonesuch. This lesson will explore chapter 23 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Afterward, you can test your knowledge of this chapter with a quiz.

Review

Things were not going as planned for the Duke and the Dauphin, the two con-artists hitching a ride with Huck Finn and Jim. Despite thinking that a circus in town would draw large crowds for their Shakespearean performance, the small audience was a disappointment. They decided that what this town needed was some crude humor. So, the pair got to work crafting new playbills to advertise their brand new performance as 'World-Renowned Tragedians' in The Royal Nonesuch.

The First Show

The Duke and the Dauphin began preparations for their opening night. This time they hoped to draw in a much larger crowd. Of course, this meant more money in their pockets. Upon first sight of the enthusiastic crowd, there was no doubt that this plan was going to be more successful. The courthouse was packed, and the Dauphin took the stage for a speech. He hyped up their play, telling the group of men that this tragedy was the 'most thrillingest one that ever was'. Expectations were high among the audience.

As the curtain rose, the audience caught first glimpse of Edmund King the Elder, played by the Dauphin. What the audience saw had them roaring with laughter. The Dauphin was naked and on all fours. His body was painted in an array of colors. He pranced around the stage, and when he was done, the crowd begged him back for more. He came out a second time, and then abruptly, final bows were taken and the curtains were closed.

An Angry Crowd
The Duke and the Dauphin with full pockets from their scam

The crowd was furious. This was not what they paid for! Men shouted out, accusing the pair of trying to pull one over on them. But despite this, the Duke proceeded to invite the audience back for the second and third nights of the show. They would be off to London after just two more days, he told the men, for a sold-out performance. As angry as the crowd was, they were terrified that they would be laughingstock of the town when it became apparent that they had been conned.

So, they chose to fake their delight to the rest of the town. If everyone came to the awful show they would all be in the same boat, they agreed. Word spread quickly around town about the fantastic show, The Royal Nonesuch.

The Second Show

The plan worked. The second night of the Royal Nonesuch brought in a packed house, with many new faces in the audience. Yet again, the crowd was swindled into paying for this awful sight. Even more men left angry and wanting revenge.

The Duke and the Dauphin were well aware by this time that they were in trouble. Huck and Jim were instructed to move the raft into a hidden location. Despite the fact that this town was out to get these con-artists, the Duke and the Dauphin were not ready to give up quite yet. They had more money to make.

The Getaway

On the third evening, Huck and the Duke headed into town to man the door for the third show. There were plenty of men that came for this show as well, but this time they were armed with rotten smelling food and what seemed to smell like dead cats. It was obvious that this crowd was ready for revenge.

When the seats were all taken, the Duke paid a boy to watch the entrance. However, Instead of opening the curtain and beginning the show, Huck and the Duke raced back to the hidden raft for their getaway. Huck was surprised to learn that the Dauphin had been at the raft all along. Once again, the crowd had been tricked. All in all, the Duke and Dauphin walked away with four hundred sixty-five dollars.

Confessions

Floating on the raft away from the town that they had just 'sold', the Duke and the Dauphin slept. Jim admitted to Huck that he was skeptical of this pair of men, especially the Dauphin. Huck decided against telling Jim that he knew these two men were fakes. Instead, Huck reassured Jim that this was just they way that kings were raised. Satisfied in this, Jim took over the raft while Huck slept.

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