The Magic Lamp in American Fiction: An Archetypal Approach to Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut


This paper examines the symbolism of the magic lamp in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and Kurt Vonnegut's Hal Irwin's Magic Lamp (1957). This study, which uses an archetypal approach to the texts, demonstrates how the American authors use the literary source of the magic lamp image from the Middle Eastern folktale collection of the Arabian Nights, where the lamp essentially represents Aladdin's dream and a quick route to success. Furthermore, the two authors aim to transform this image into the motif of the American dream in its modern contexts. These two literary works likewise made an effort to use the picture as a vehicle for the issues of slavery, racial prejudice, and class inequality. Additionally, the characters’ desire to escape their social and economic constraints is, contrary to what they anticipate, frustrated because of their use of the lamp. Moreover, the wishes of the characters in both texts to escape from their social and economic restraints are, contrary to their expectations, thwarted as a result of their use of the lamp. This negative outcome renders the function of the lamp the opposite to its original function in the literary sources of the texts.


Muayad Enwiya Jajo Al-Jamani, Nibras Jawad Kadhim


Huckleberry Finn, Kurt Vonnegut, magic lamp, Mark Twain