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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, two conmen called the duke and the dauphin (or the king) constantly cause trouble for Huck and Jim. Though many say these two characters weaken the overall plot, they are actually quite important factor in the plot of the story and help move things along. When Huck and Jim first meet the duke and the king, they introduce themselves as an impoverished duke of England and the long lost son of King Louis XVI of France.
Of course Huck is smart enough to realize the men were con artists and didn’t believe their silly lies. This is yet another example of Huck’s “street smarts”, for if someone like Tom Sawyer had met them he would have easily believed the two because it would have been something like the stories he was so fond of. As the group of four travels down the Mississippi River, they come across the funeral of a wealthy man by the name of Richard Wilks. In his will, Wilks left his small fortune to his daughter and two English brothers who were rumored not to arrive.
Of course with the real brothers most likely not stopping by and loads of money sitting around, the duke and the dauphin jump on the opportunity and plan their next scheme. Almost anyone would agree that their latest plan was extremely low, even for two con artists. Huck is extremely disgusted with their scam saying “It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race” (Twain 159). If the duke and the dauphin been a part of the plot, this scam wouldn’t have happened and as a result the audience wouldn’t see how empathetic and compassionate Huck really is.
Through the intensity and seriousness of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a bit of the comic relief is needed and the duke and the king are the perfect pair. Though they may seem to play a pointless part in the book, the conmen are actually important to the plot by giving Huck and Jim a reason for moving from place to place and ultimately to their final destination, but more importantly for bringing out certain characteristics in Huck that the audience may not have seen without the duke and the dauphin.