Mark Twain Essay
When to analyze the works of Mark Twain, it becomes clear that the author’s style is simple and direct. Indeed, the author is very successful in convening his thoughts to the reader. Henry Nash Smith, the critique of Mark Twain’s style once made a remark that Mark Twain’s style is “as close as we are likely to get to the writer’s actual experience … ” (Smith 19). Richard Bridgman’s evaluation of Mark Twain’s style is even clearer. The researcher puts it in the following way: “Mark Twain leads the reader to things again” (Bridgman 79).
Furthermore, when to analyze Mark Twain’s style it would be fair to claim that his description of life often takes the form of mediation. This form was very rare among Mark Twain’s contemporaries. In the final outcome this very style of medication largely contributed to formation of Mark Twain’s literary style. In addition, Twain is not only a realist, he is a humorist. It means that besides depicting realistic situation, Mark Twain was quite successful in telling something humoristic.
As we can see from the rest of his works, Mark Twain is able to expose “illusion and pretense and folly” (Duncan 204). Besides, as Duncan has fairly noticed he could “aid and abet the realistic enterprise” (205). Mark Twain is famous for his humor stories. To make an example, one of his most humorous and noticeable sketches is the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Rich vernacular language makes the story sound even more lively and funny. Under the mask of humor the author had skillfully hidden the expression of confrontation which was observed between the East and West.
The story is a representation of Twain’s unique style of writing humor stories. Mark Twain is famous for his humor stories. One of the most humorous and noticeable sketches by Mark Twain is the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Rich vernacular language makes the story sound even more lively and funny. Under the mask of humor the author had skillfully hidden the expression of confrontation which was observed between the East and West. The conflict is represented through the conversation of narrator, who is Easterner himself and Simon Wheeler, who is Westerner.
The very first sentence of the story sets humorous mood, moreover narrator’s suspicion that the person he was looking for was a myth makes an impression that the following story will be unrealistic and humorous. From the first meeting of Simon Wheeler sets the reader at ease by the following description: “… he was fat and bald headed, and had an expression of winning gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance” (Price). One of the themes is the author’s critical view on American way to success.
Jim Smily is the bright representative of an American who is making money easily by betting on different stuff like “…rat-terriers, and chicken cocks, and tom-cats, and all of them kind of things…” (Price). Jim was betting and was winning all the time, as he was very fortunate. However, this easy money proves to be not stable, as he lost the case when he bet on his frog Dan’l. In this, simple from the first sight story, the author criticizes some of the flaws of the clergy and religion. Jim Smily was attending priest before making a bet.
Furthermore, the other flaws of American society are wittily criticized by Samuel Clemens in this short story. Thus the dog possessing almost humanly features had his own talents and this metaphor is representing simple people who have their own talents too and who can be successful: “… good pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if he’d lived, for the stuff was in him, and he had genius I know it, because he hadn’t had no opportunities to speak of, and it don’t stand to reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them circumstances, if he hadn’t no talent” (Price).
In this short story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, the author skillfully criticizes the major flaws of American society. Mark Twain is very realistic in using the words that have a direct relation to human life. The way in which the writer reveals his humor is the technique of using the cross-eyed patterns of concepts. To some extend the use of the concepts reveal Mark Twain’s personal disappointment with the system. The realist implicitly regards words as something that is related to the material value of words. An important feature of realism is that it is predicated on commonsense empiricism.
As for human, it is predominately based on philosophical idealism. Paying the most careful attention to Mark Twain’s style, we can see that this author is adhering to both traditions. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and his short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County are two great works which give the reader a possibility to look at American society of the nineteenth century. One has a possibility to analyze today’s situation concerning race discrimination and equality of whites and blacks with the situation which existed at the beginning of the nineteenth century in time of slavery.
Initially, the discussions of Twain’s style “have been concerned exclusively with his empirical pursuit” (Duncan 201). As a result, many critiques left aside the issue of the epistemological gap that existed between both the subject and object. The only pint all literary scholars actually agree with is that vernacular style used by Mark Twain is able to bring together both realism and humanism. Mark Twain’s style is predominately focused around the issue of conveying objective reality itself. Additionally, the writer goes so far as to convey his own experience of reality. This technique of writing has been already confirmed by Smith (19).
His unique style of writing is able to accomplish many important life goals. However, the main achievement of Mark Twain’s style is its capacity to convey the objective reality. The objective reality that is so skillfully used in all works of Mark Twain often brings the reader face-to-face with objective reality. Jeffrey Duncan, the author of the article “The empirical and the ideal in Mark Twain” presents the famous writer as a kind of impressionist. Instead of conveying an original experience, Mark Twain decides to connect his original experience with his humor (Duncan 207).
Mark Twain’s words are direct path to the real life experience. Moreover, the humor is an inseparable part of all his works. The empirical truth he tells is not conveyed just for its own sake, but for the humoristic effect. As it was discussed above, Huckleberry Finn is the representation of the vernacular style the writer employs to present the problem more sharply. To understand Mark Twain’s style of writing better, let’s take a closer look at one of his novels which is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It is one of the most well-known books of his time.
The book by Mark Twain is an example of literary greatness that helped people to change their views on some important issues of those times. The author is a representative of Regionalism as his novel like his many works are written using simple language ordinary people spoke with all the collocations, variations and accents of the South. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the representation of one of the complex and progressive writings of the time when slavery was a controversy and the first issue of American Society of that time.
Jim’s character is the representation of all the enslaved blacks of that time and according to the morality and laws of American society he is inferior to Huck, who is representative of white free population of America. Slavery is one of the central issues that are discussed in the book. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn depicts the way in which African Americans were perceived by the outside world. The book itself is often associated with some anger and frustration that was expressed by the author in reference to the black people.
At the beginning of the story, the gap between Huck and slave Jim is enormously deep, which Huck has enough power of mind to analyze the existing stereotypes in his society and their wrongness of thinking concerning blacks: “I knowed he was white inside” (Twain 351). In my opinion the core of the problem is Mark Twain’s depiction of Jim, the black American and the protagonist of the novel. In fact, Huck’s words are negatively perceived by the contemporary critiques, who often regard the book as racist and demeaning in its nature.
However, Twain’s approach to slavery issue is motivated by many reasons one of which is stereotypes or as Schmidt put it “whites’ views of rebellious slaves or postwar freemen arrogantly claiming their rights” (449). I would go so far as to say that Mark Twain showed a real attitude of the white population of the South to the black people. The same thing was accentuated with the analysis of Huck’s character that shows the author’s specific approach to black people. Huck’s approach was typical for a narrow-minded white person who was seeing African Americans as a lower race.
Loyalty to Jim can be described as very shaky. It means that everything depends on the situation into which a person is placed. Also Huck cared for Jim who had a strange approach to the reality and the things that took place in the American society. However, in general, Huck was aware of the ways in which he can show his loyalty to the other people. He cared for Jim realizing that Jim is black, thus needed the “other”, dehumanized approach to his personality. However, Huck really liked this simple man and he could even go to hell, but set Jim free:
“All right, then, I’ll GO to hell” (Twain 417). However, according to Schmidt this decision is ill-conceived. Further more, the author points out that protagonist’s intentions are rather “illusion that Huck’s moral choice is absolute and self-determined” (Schmidt 455). During the post-Civil War African Americans were still treated as “slaves” in American society. The release of Jim Crow laws gave many important advantages to black Americans. The review of the current laws shows that the major part of African Americans was freed by Jim Crow law.
As for white people, they did not change their attitude to black Americans, and continued to see them as heartless and soulless creatures. Also, there was a tendency to picture blacks as monsters who were deprived of human feelings. Under the circumstances like these African Americans were negatively perceived by the general public, and were even feared by the American society. Also, the release of Jim Crow laws widened the gap between the whites and blacks. The analysis of the book indicates that the society of those times was actually adding problems instead of searching for the solution of these problems.
The main peculiarity of the book is the dubious approach to the African American issues. As Huck has actually indicated, African Americans were more than just animals. The above mentioned words indicate on the fact hat Jim’s case was approached from the white man’s perspective. Huck analyses the situation in the following way: “I tell you gentlemen, a nigger like that is worth a thousand dollar – and kind treatment, too” (Twain 364). The situation itself has a deep meaning. Though disgraceful at the first glance, Huck’s approach to Black issue can be described as rather positive.
The novel was written a few years after the slavery had been abolished between 1876 and 1883, whereas the events of the story take place before 1865. Thus Mark Twain was influenced by the changes which followed the Thirteenth Amendment and while writing the story was reflecting on the events of his past. Therefore, the novel has to be read and analyzed in the historical and social context. The views of the author concerning blacks and slavery are the combination of his childhood memories and the conscious rejection of slavery of writer’s adulthood.
The time period between the abolishment and the time the story was written is relatively short, therefore actual social changes were slight, as the majority of the plantation owners of the South were strongly against the abolishment trying to prevent freeing slaves or their free workforce. Mark Twain was a progressive man, who knew that all people are equal despite their skin color or race. Therefore, friendship between a white boy Huck and black slave Jim is natural and obvious for the adventures events of the story. The two friends share everything what happens on their way down the Mississippi river and really enjoy each other’s company.
To conclude, Mark Twain’s unique style of writing, his realism and very insightful sense of humor of his works is the undeniable evidence of the writer’s talent and hard work. His works have been fascinating literature for more than a century and will continue to be enjoyed by the readers of many future generations. Works Cited Benesch, Klaus & Schmidt, Kerstin (ed. ). Space in America: Theory, History, Culture. Rodopi: Amsterdam, 2005. Bridgeman, J. The Colloquial Style in America. New York: Ox- ford Univ. Press, 1966, p. 79. Duncan Jeffrey L. “The Empirical and the Ideal in Mark Twain”, PMLA, Vol.
95, No. 2 (Mar. , 1980), pp. 201-212. Smith, Henry Nash. Mark Twain: The Development of a Writer, xii,. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1962. Kaplan, Justin Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography (New York: Simon, 1966), p. 197. Price, Angel. “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. Southwestern Humor and Mark Twain. n. d. Web. 25 Jan. 2010. Schmidt, Peter (ed. ). “Seven Recent Commentaries on Mark Twain”. Studies in the Novel. 34 (2002): 448-460. Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Connections. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2004.
Subject: Mark Twain,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 4 October 2016
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