This essay examines the problematic role of Mark Twain’s much-discussed Tom Driscoll in Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894) and argues that Tom is an earlier and anti-realistic variation on the freakishly mocking Duplicates who appear in the author’s only published mysterious stranger manuscript, No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (1916). Like the Duplicates and other of Twain’s later anti-realistic creatures, Tom seems designed primarily to torment, startle, mock, and mirror all those living in the hellish secular landscape of Dawson’s Landing. In this novel, the author both assaults and challenges his readers with an often farcical culture that tolerates and perpetuates cruel, abusive, and discriminatory cultural traditions through human ignorance, arrogance, complacency, unthinking conformity, and legal corruption.
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