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Mark Twain’s Humorous Satire in Running for Governor Essay

Abstract: Mark Twain, a mastermind of humor and realism, is seen as a giant in world literature. His humorous satire had great impact on the following men of letters; critics also attached significant importance to it and put forward various interpretations. Noticeably, his humor? ous satire finds full expression in his famous short story, Running for Governor. In it, with humor and satire, he exposed the true features and hypocrisy of American democracy.

The paper tries to analyze the basic elements which affected Mark Twain’s humorous satire, aiming at offering rational analysis of this humorous satire in Running for Governor as well as making Twain’s works readily understood. Key words: Mark Twain; realism; humorous satire; hypocrisy; American ????? :106 I ????? : A ???? : -5039(2012)03-0206-02 1009 1 Introduction Mark Twain, the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, is the forerunner and reputed realist in the arena of American literature.

He is an American writer and humorist, whose best work is characterized by broad, often irreverent or biting satire. His work is also known for re? alism of place and language, memorable characters, and hatred of hypocrisy and oppression. Because of his remarkable contributions to the nation, literary critics spoke highly of his achievements. For instance, these venera? ble titles “the Lincoln of American literature”, “the true father of our national literature”, “Mark Twain—Mirror of American” are used to highlight his pinnacles in literature.

Samuel’s humor, if only in order to funnily make others laugh, I don’t think there would not have such a daimyo—”Mark Twain” on the literary scene in today’s world. Moreover, with his particular creative spirit and rather elegant “people’s language”, especially his excellent humor and satire, he is deeply praised by American people. Mark Twain wrote many short stories and these stories profoundly analyze and expose short? comings and ugliness of capitalist society. As for humorous satire, Running for Governor is a representative short story.

The story creates an unreal independent nominee who suffers a series of nasty and shameless slander to expose the hypocrisy of American “Democracy” and the corruption and depravity of the cap? italist system under the guise of American “Democracy”. Mark Twain’s penetrating and remarkable portray of Bourgeois politicians profoundly reveals the hypocrisy of bourgeois democratic electoral system. Therefore, Running for Governor is an excellent humorous satire works, which is ideological and instructive. 2 Mark Twain’s Humorous Satire in Running for Governor.

In Running for Governor, at the beginning of the story, Twain wrote: “A few months ago I was nominated for Governor of the great state of New York, to run against Mr. John T. Smith and Mr. Blank J. Blank on the independent ticket. I somehow felt that I had one prominent advantage over these gentlemen, and that was—good character. “1 Three specific characters appear, “I” is the indepen? dence Party’s candidate, who is an upright and honest man with sim? ple thoughts, The Republican candidate Mr. John T. Smith, and the Democratic candidate Mr. Blank J. Blank. People favor to talk about his usual first-person narrative method.

This narrative method which he was so handy to use that it become a major artistic style he created. It strengthens the ex? change on Twain’s thoughts and feelings with the reader’s, and make Twain feel freedom to mobilize all language means to gain hu? morous and satirical effects. In American literature, Twain is not only a great humorist, but also an eminent master who developed a unique style of his own— colloquialism. His greatness lies in blending of humor with lively language. In the first rumor “perjury”, after Mr. John T. Smith and Mr. Blank J. Blank had well-founded accusations on “me”, they ve? hemently said: “Mr.

Twain owes it to himself, as well as to the great people whose suffrages he asks, to clear this matter up. Will he do it? ” These three words “the great people” are full of localism, also with humor to demonstrate “my” rivals’ extraordinary skills2. His words are colloquial, concrete and direct in effect, and his sentence structures are simple such as “will he do it”, but humorously sati? rize officialdom’s true features. His humor is not only of witty remarks mocking at small things or of farcical elements making people laugh, but a kind of artistic style used to criticize the social injustice and satirize the decayed romanticism.

3 Influences of Mark Twain’s Humorous Satire Twain’s works, both in content and form, with more American characteristics, demonstrate Americans’ thoughts and feelings and reflect the manifold movements of American society by using their own language and telling their own stories.

Twain’s life is difficult, but he wrote a large number of literary works. From the spiritually empty and nothing-to-do people, to the unscrupulous politicians, ???? : -12-05 2011 ???? : -01-05 2012 ???? : , ?? ????????????? , ?????????????? 206 ???????? ??????? : ??? 2012 ? 02 ? to the rulers of money and the rulers of spiritual morality became the objects of Twain’s ruthless ridicule, biting satire and criticism.

As a distinguished master of humor and irony, Twain’s humor with his unique style, a combination of smart ideas with the art of satire have a practical significance for us to understand social, institution? al and human legacy in 19th century and help to recognize the evils of American society today.

The autonomous status of American literature as a national lit? erature can hardly be questioned nowadays, but once American lit? erature had a special relation to the British tradition. During 19th century, this period, American literature strongly tended to view the course it was taking as diverging widely from the English tradition while trying to give expressions to awareness informed by local in? fluence.

Of the three writers Eliot chooses as the landmark of the coming of age of American literature to be found, in his opinion, at the moment when American writers were first acknowledged to be influencing other literature, one is Mark Twain. He is justly renowned as a humorist but was not always appre?

ciated by the writers of his time more than that. Successive genera? tions of writers, however, recognized the role that Twain played in creating a truly American literature. His success in creating this plan but evocative language precipitated the end of American rever? ence for British and European cultures and for the more formal lan? guage associated with those traditions. His achievement: creating timeless art in the vernacular, helped advance American cultural in? dependence and diversity.

4 Conclusion Mark Twain is a remarkable representative of American realis? tic literature in the 19th century, he is the first writer who had the literary creation “Americanization” and had the literary language “nationalize”. With hard work, he finished lots of literature works in his life. In his works of literature, he laughed at, satirized and criti? cized the power of money, the hypocritical morality, corrupted poli? tics, etc. It is full of Mark Twain’s humor, he criticized and satirized the social hideousness bitterly. Mark Twain detailed the social hid? eousness with his particular humor. It is full of relaxation, optimism and humorous style.

Running for Governor is an outstanding representative of Twain’s political satirical novel in 19th century. Twain fabricated an unreal independent partisan “I” (not the author) who eventually had to abandon the campaign for New York governor because of abuse, rumors and personal attacks from the opponents through ex? aggerated, humorous satire, to profoundly reveal the dirty inside of “free election”, rip the U. S. “two-party system”, and expose a capi? talist “freedom of speech,” thus humorously satirizing the hypocrisy of the bourgeois democracy. 3 ??????? :

??? Overseas English ? ? ? ? To sum up, fundamentally, Twain is a great humorist. He once said, “there are several kinds of stories, but only one different—the humorous. ” So to be humorous in his writing I venture to say is his lifelong pursuit. It is also undeniable that Twain is the only giant who had brought both local colorism and humor to the world fame. Meanwhile he once claimed that he was a serious writer and was ac? tively concerned with moral ideas in many ways.

However, when he found the darkness, corruption, injustice and the personal tragic en? counters he had to withstand in particular, he became firstly serious and then bitter ironic. It follows therefore that we should take these elements into consideration when analyzing Twain’s writing charac? teristics as well as himself. In short, both the changing social reality and the unpredictable personal tragedies directly and eventually re? sulted in his humorous satire.

In Mark Twain’s autobiography, he had summed up the experi? ence from his humorous novels:”It is impossible to humor for the hu? mor. Humor is just a flavor and snapshots.

I have always told people that why I can persist for 30 years. ” Thus we can see that Mark Twain had the humor and satire as his writing features, as the basis of writing his humorous novels. “4 Notes: 1 Wang Qun. Guide to Mark Twain[M]. Wuhan:Wuhan University Press,2007:64. 2 Sun Xun. Mark Twain and The adventures of Huckleberry Finn[M]. Beijing:China Juvenile and Children’s Books Publishing House, 2001:140. 3 Wang Qun. Guide to Mark Twain[M]. Wuhan:Wuhan University Press,2007:65. 4 Ibid. ,90-100 References: [1] Deng Xuxin.

An Induction to Literature of English[M]. Wuhan: Wuhan University Press,2002. [2] Wu Weiren. History and Anthology of American Literature[M]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press,1990. [3] Song Yuankang. A study Guide to American Literature[M]. Kun? ming:Yunnan University Press,2007. [4] ??.?? ?????? [M]?? :??????? ,2007. · [5] ??.??? ?????? ?? ——????????? · · ??????? [J].???????? ,2001(2):52-55. [6] ??.???????????? ——????????? ???????? [J].???????? ,2002(6):25-27. [7] ???.???????????????? [J].????? ?,2003(6):79-81. ???????? 207


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