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Analysis of “The Damned Human Race” Essay

The Damned Human Race is an essay written by an American writer, Mark Twain. In this satirical paper, the author reveals a very original and peculiar theory, according to which humankind is not the highest point of evolution, but the lowest. Mark Twain provides very convincing arguments to defend his point of view, by comparing human and animal behavior. Unlike humans, animals are not cruel and kill only for a reason, not for fun or greed; animals don’t torture anyone or have slaves or concubines; they do not swear and act vulgarly, unlike human beings. Moreover, they do not conduct wars, because they do not possess any religion or patriotism.

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At the end of the essay, Mark Twain states that the thing that places mankind at the lowest point in evolution is Moral Sense, because when people do evil, they do it consciously. The essay is very persuasive and it is hard to disagree with it, but further reflection may lead to the conclusion that people are even worse than Twain thought of them.

In his essay, Mark Twain goes into human history and mentions particular cases of irrational and shocking human cruelty. He mentions gouging eyes, killing people with red-hot iron, burning a tower with people in it or killing great animals for the sake of sport, etc. He wrote this essay about 150 years ago, but, approximately, no one has listened to him. We can experience what Twain wrote about human nature today in our real life.

He wrote about irrational greed and we can see it is still relevant today. The current ecological crisis is caused by humans’ avarice, because people harm the environment beyond the limit they need to live a normal and moderate life. Every time they need more and more and, as a result, basins are drained, forests are cut down, the air becomes more polluted. People destroy the nature that gives them life and allows them to live longer.

Moreover, people still commit horrible crimes against human nature which can not be rationally explained. It is hard for humans to call themselves the most developed species after the Holocaust, concentration camps, experiments on people, and the use of chemical and nuclear weapons.

This list can go on and on, but the question of how humans’ Moral Sense allows them to act this way remains unsolved. Mark Twain suggests that when people act evilly, they do it consciously because they distinguish between good and bad. It is much scarier, however, when humans commit heinous acts while believing they are doing something good. Some numerous revolutions and uprisings started with good intentions but always resulted in killings. These reflections lead to a dilemma about how much it is necessary to sacrifice people to achieve good goals and whether it is permissible at all.

Moreover, the most terrible thing about human cruelty is that sometimes they perceive originally evil intentions as good. It is shocking how racism, hatred, violence, and slavery can sometimes become ideologies that resonate with people’s hearts. A person who believes in equality, human brotherhood, and pacifism would be denounced by the Nazi German society and perceived as evil for lack of patriotism and obedience to authorities. Thus, it can be said, that if Mark Twain lived a few decades longer, he would rewrite his essay in a more expressive and disenchanted manner.

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To conclude, The Damned Human Race is a very sophisticated and poignant work that, humorously and sarcastically, makes the audience think about the essence of human nature. It can even be called depressing to some degree because it draws very pessimistic conclusions. However, the thorough view of human history with all its crimes and cruelties can help to understand Mark Twain’s point of view and accept it.

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