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Mark Twain’s Argumentation in “The Damned Human Race”

One of the most outstanding writers in the history of world literature, Mark Twain, was talented in describing people’s characters and nurturing inside them the truth of life experience and values that impact a person’s mindset and keep him safe from wrong in life. A teaching approach in his works depicts a strategic outlook on how the American society should behave morally and keep humane during every period of their lives. The author of “The Damned Human Race” never presupposed humanity only in light colors. He represents the bilateral human nature existing between evil and good, trying to stress a terrific concept outlining the wholeness of a human kind without any exclusions or limitation. This entire wholeness is called by the author the same way as the title of the book. Humanity is a sort of failure which was made many thousands of years ago. The reason lies somewhere in the everlasting world of gorgeous nature, but the effects are projected in the world of mortal people. This paper urges to work out the main approaches and motives of the author while writing the essay The Damned Human Race.

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Logic is a tool that the author perpetually uses in the book so that to demonstrate direct references to world truth and prospects of sound mind. The flow of arguments supports the author’s idea in the book. For this aim, Mark Twain chooses the argumentation-persuasion type of thoughts’ representation. First, it is significant to adhere to the definition of such method of thoughts expression by writing.

Argumentation in writing uses clear thinking and logic, and the writer tries to convince readers of the soundness of a particular opinion on a controversial issue. If, while trying to convince, the writer uses emotional language and dramatic appeals to readers’ concerns, beliefs, and values, then the piece is called persuasion. Besides encouraging acceptance of an opinion, persuasion often urges readers (or another group) to commit them to a course of action (Longman Reader, p. 477).

Mark Twain followed the way of thinking and approaching which was most preferable within the society. This way, in times of the author and nowadays, are connected with the moral matureness and spiritual connections as for the Holy Bible, in particular. In many works by Twain, a reader can notice the figure of Adam as the first man on earth. This idea is cultivated for a reader to feel the disharmony and reasons regarding the damnation which began progressing among human beings. Moreover, the theme of patriarchic subordination and relation underlines the fact that Adam here is an “unappreciated forebear of the “damned human race.” (Patea & Diaz, p. 155).

Mark Twain was known as a great critic and a man of a good sense of humor. In his work, he tries to make the sequence of statements quite the opposite and united in the form of syllogisms. For example, the author tends to argue with Darwinian Theory but then compares people with animals. Also, Twain describes all aspects confirming the top role of a man in the world with many glimpses on good sides of his character and nature on the whole, but then the author agrees with a man’s foolishness. Man is considered to be a higher, cruel, religious animal with shapes of patriotism and slavery in his nature and foolishness in mind. (Twain 1997) The thing is that the author had enough time to have a survey on the life of animals and their behaviors and attitudes in a zoo. Mark Twain pointed out the difference, for instance, between anaconda and earl as for the rate of cruelty. Here is the fact that if a hunter needs something, then there should be a strategy of how to get it with direct actions. Twain proved that an earl is the crueler hunter in contrast with an anaconda because an earl destroys prey that is of no use, which was seen in the example of an earl (Twain, 1997).

As Twain’s sarcasm suggests, Homo sapiens does not represent the pinnacle of progress. Those who act as spokesmen for the special interests of human beings fail to see how interdependent life on earth really is. You cannot see evolution in a balanced manner if you look at it only as a preparation for humans (Margulis & Sagan, p. 194).

Twain presents a reader with logical approaches in favor of his idea and, thus, argues that the true callings of a man do not concern the theory of Darwin but presuppose the mistake which God made. This religion-based statement excites by its proven content when applying to the author’s words: “God had his opportunity. He could have made a reputation. But no, He must commit this grotesque folly.” (Cited in Hutchinson 315) It was difficult for the author to consider all those who deserve being called animals and those whom Mark Twain loved and on whose help he relied on. Only due to the entire problem of peoples’ nature, Twain could suppose that a part of ominous nature is still filled in the souls of human beings. In accordance with his personal example, he chooses to be apart from the dirtiness of mankind. Richard Alleva, in his article, demonstrates the exact factual background of the author’s presuppositions on this theme, namely:

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Twain’s several pronunciamentos in favor of causes most of us now find noble was not gestures toward Utopia. They were efforts to disconnect himself from the stupidities of the rest of “the damned human race.” Surely that is the meaning of the physical image Twain took such pains to cultivate: The Man in the White Suit. “I prefer to be clean in the matter of raiment–clean in a dirty world.”

Exactly, this “damned” world is so because of man’s activity and character unrestraint. These factors, along with other evils, contributed well into the picture of human beings seen through Twain’s eyes. In fact, such an overlook is not unique and surprises no one who has experience of living, working, and communicating with people. The point is that Adam as a “benefactor” was considered by the author to be the reason for the damned human race, but no one can state then that Adam was damned; he was glorified by God, and Mark Twain straightforwardly outlined that “Adam is everything” because due to him people began continuing the mankind and achieved progress notwithstanding the racial diversity. (Patea & Diaz 2001) In fact, one man cannot be white, black, or red by the skin. That is why in this work of Mark Twain, as well as in others, the theme of racial discrimination is under criticism. The situation of the 1930s frightened by the impulsive and cruel intentions of white people to condemn and in every possible way to push Black people away from the societal main things and events. Human beings are not so special until they take responsibility or adhere to the right way of thinking, speaking, and acting. Twain rather critically and in a ridiculous way gives a definition of a man in comparison with things:

The man seems to be a rickety poor sort of a thing, any way you take him; a kind of British Museum of infirmities and inferiorities. He is always undergoing repairs. A machine that was as unreliable as he is would have no market (Twain, 1997).

What is more, the author sees a danger covered in the concept of The Moral Sense. This sphere of peoples’ life is definitely preoccupied with public opinion, and morality was interpreted differently. If a person did not follow what the church prescribed, then this person is immoral. Here an ominous selfish peculiarity of a man’s nature can be worked out, and Twain’s words obtain true coloring as of their genuine background. Thus, according to Twain’s work, one statement can be supposed: if morality “is the quality which enables him to do wrong” (Twain, 1997), then those who want to follow the right way are amoral people.

When applying the idea of money, Twain supposes that rich men are so because of their exploitation of others. They can never get enough and always strive for more and more money. This is a sort of slavery in some sense and makes people dependant on what they have at the moment and how they will live tomorrow. Thus, if a man looks for freedom by means of enrichment, which resolves many problems with material amenities so needful in everyday life, and after all is afraid of lack of money, then riches lead to enslavement. Moreover, this syllogism proves the idea of the time which people spend on different activities. Time, like life, is short or seems, in many cases so. It is up o a man what sort of activity he/she spends time. The pessimism of Mark Twain is a peculiar characteristic feature in all his works as for a man’s nature discussion. The writer did not conceal his personal attitude towards men and never criticized those who discussed men to be the most dangerous creatures in the world. These piece-of-hatred intentions towards human beings were the greatest stimuli for him to write his novels and works of various periods of his life. The attitudes of determinism, moralism, pessimism, and pathetic were the key attitudes of the writer, which predominantly occurred in his thought-imagery design of mental activity seen in his works (Hutchinson, p. 318).

Proceeding with the idea of the logical background of Mark Twain’s essay, the author notes that a man is the only patriot. It is normal for the citizens of a definite country to love their place of birth or living due to several reasons. This can be a stimulus for them to consider patriotism as the highest mandatory requirement of living within a country. It is interesting then to ask: what is country actually? Without the help of a dictionary, one can definitely suppose that country consists of people; people in return is the main value of a democratic society, and all members of this very people are equal for two reasons, as the author claims throughout his works: they originate from one forefather and their rights are stated in the main Law of a country, meaning The Constitution. In American society since the time of Mark Twain until now, this problem has gained no positive solutions. Hence, one can surely hesitate as of being patriotically intended stating that he/she is the greatest patriot. Here comes another statement, namely: patriots love their country, which consists of human beings (notwithstanding their racial belonging and cultural diversity); then, under conditions of racial or any other kind of discrimination, there are no patriots.

The theme of patriotism is then supported in the essay by the idea of the religious man. Here the author tries to make controversial appraisal to a man because too many people state about their belonging to a religion adhering to the principles or commandments which this religion states and, though, interpreting it by various means more appropriate for human beings to provide a definite way of thinking within a community. When it is stated to love each other, and there are rather more cases of hatred than love, then there should not be any mention about religious society and sacred principles of providing policies in it. It is just a sort of excuse for those who gain profits afterward.

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The author is also inclined to think by means of logic that a man is an animal. This statement can invoke a whole disproof from the side of the community where an individual lives. The author, who usually observed the attitudes of animals, tends to state that the manners of human beings are lower as of rating in comparison with those of animals. People are masters of this world pretending to be on the top and above the rest of the creatures, but facts are stubborn things, and the place of human beings is at the bottom now (Twain, 1997).

To conclude, the essay of Mark Twain, The Damned Human Race, is a work full of the writer’s sarcasm as for the nature of people with a specter of points supporting the idea of man as an animal.

Works cited

  1. Twain, Mark. The Damned Human Race. 1997.
  2. Alleva, Richard. “MISSING THE DARK SIDE : Ken Burns Does ‘Mark Twain’.” Commonweal 2002: 19.
  3. Hutchinson, Stuart. Mark Twain : The biographical responses: Critical Assessments. Routledge, 1993
  4. Pâtea, Viorica & Díaz, María Eugenia. Critical essays on the myth of the American Adam. Universidad de Salamanca, 2001
  5. Margulis, Lynn & Sagan, Dorion. Microcosmos: four billion years of evolution from our microbial ancestors. University of California Press, 1997
  6. Nadell. Judith; Langan, John & Comodromos, Eliza A. Longman Reader, The, 8th Edition. Longman, 2007

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StudyCorgi. "Mark Twain’s Argumentation in “The Damned Human Race”." October 31, 2021.


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