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Stylistics and Ideas in Mark Twain’s Short Stories

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

The setting and atmosphere at the beginning of the story

The story begins with the description of the country: “It was in 1590 – winter. Austria was far away from the world, and asleep” (n. pag). Thus, the author immediately connects the beginning and the outcome of the story and introduces the idea. Though the reader does not know what the story is about and if there will be some “unnatural phenomena”. The descriptions of the landscape and old castle produce the impression of the fairy tale and introduce the reader into the mystery of the real world.

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The author mentions the education of the boys and says that religion is the “guide” that should govern the life of every individual. The author says that only the religious beliefs and principles were the main and knowledge was not so necessary. The atmosphere of the mystery is supported by the stories of Felix Brandt who tells children about the past and the stories about ghosts.

He makes boys believe that our world is full of unnatural beings that live by our side and we should not afraid of them: “He encouraged us not to fear supernatural things, such as ghosts, and said they did not harm, but only wandered about because they were lonely and distressed and wanted kindly notice and compassion” (n. pag). Thus, he made his contribution to the mysterious air of the novel. His stories prepare the reader for the “supernatural” events that were going to happen with the boys.

Satan’s special powers in winning the boys’ trust

The Satan came from the forest and his first appearance was accompanied by the mystery. He lit the pipes without fire: “I was so astonished I couldn’t speak; for I had not said anything” (n. pag). First, the boys were afraid, but the curiosity was stronger and Satan continued to show supernatural tricks that astounded the boys. The boys felt like in a fairy tale. They were a bit afraid, a bit distrustful, but very curious about the stranger.

He won the boys over and later they trusted him completely. Satan could lit the fire without matches, make the figures of people alive, could turn water into a glass, and all that sort of things. But his main talent was persuasion. The boys trusted him blindly. They even did not scare when found out he was a Satan, and they were devoted believers and Christians. They also believed in his predictions about their fates.

Satan’s reflection on human beings

Satan told the boys about people and their lives. He was talking without aspiration and enthusiasm, impartially. He tells that the man is made of dirt and everything he has is the Moral Sense, “None of the higher animals is tainted with the disease called the Moral Sense” (n. pag), that helps him differentiate things, such as differentiate good and evil. Man cannot create and Satan can, this is the main difference between them.

From his point of view, the life of a person is the same as the life of a fly. It has no meaning and everything is just shadowy, there is no joy, no sorrow, no intellect, “Monarchies, aristocracies, and religion are all based upon that large defect in your race – the individual’s distrust of his neighbor, and his desire, for safety’s or comfort’s sake, to stand well in his neighbor’s eye”. (n. pag).

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The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is a short story written by Mark Twain. It is a humorous short story full of satire and real black humor. The author makes use of different stylistic means to show his intention and express the irony of the story.

The story is full of black humor. It is shown through the description of the characters, such as Old Simon Wheeler, Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, Jim Smiley, Parson Walker, and his wife; through the ironic situations and characters’ actions and conversation. For example, the ironic situation appears when Wheeler retells the story about Jim Smiley, but he tells about the wrong person. As a result, the narrator left Wheeler during the conversation and the last one even did not notice it. Curios’ situations happen to the characters. For example when Smiley teaches the frog to jump and bets with the stranger that his frog can beat any other one.

The author makes use of different stylistic means, such as hyperbole and personification. For example, the horse which, “was so slow and always had asthma, but at the end of the race she’d get excited and scattered her legs around limber” (Twain, 11). The author also uses slapstick comedies are the jokes and the way the characters talk: vernacular dialect and local expressions.

The message of the short story is to show the irony of real-life and criticize society which was full of people who tried to cheat other people for the sake of their benefit.

The author intended to hide the irony and black humor behind the text and make people analyze their actions while analyzing the characters.

Works Cited

Twain, Mark. The Mysterious Stranger. Web.

Twain, Mark. The Jumping Frog. New York: Courier Dover Publications, 1971.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, February 3). Stylistics and Ideas in Mark Twain’s Short Stories. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/stylistics-and-ideas-in-mark-twains-short-stories/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, February 3). Stylistics and Ideas in Mark Twain’s Short Stories. https://studycorgi.com/stylistics-and-ideas-in-mark-twains-short-stories/

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"Stylistics and Ideas in Mark Twain’s Short Stories." StudyCorgi, 3 Feb. 2021, studycorgi.com/stylistics-and-ideas-in-mark-twains-short-stories/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Stylistics and Ideas in Mark Twain’s Short Stories." February 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/stylistics-and-ideas-in-mark-twains-short-stories/.


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StudyCorgi. "Stylistics and Ideas in Mark Twain’s Short Stories." February 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/stylistics-and-ideas-in-mark-twains-short-stories/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Stylistics and Ideas in Mark Twain’s Short Stories." February 3, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/stylistics-and-ideas-in-mark-twains-short-stories/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Stylistics and Ideas in Mark Twain’s Short Stories'. 3 February.

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