Twain's Attack on Humanity of Humankind

Essay by happy_bubblesUniversity, Master's April 2006

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In the novel Letters from the Earth, Twain reveals his hatred towards humankind, and illustrates his distrust for people in general. This dark satire is nothing like the other books that I have read by Twain, but I enjoyed it more. Because of the novels content it was not published until years after his death. The most interesting topics that Twain proposes were that of man versus animal, and free will versus determinism. It poses ambiguous questions about human morals and humanitarian roots which have no distinct answers.

Twain learned most of his beliefs and morals from his mother. According to Thomas Vernon, "from her Mark Twain inherited many specific tastes and tendencies- his love of red, his tenderness towards animals, especially cats, his quick, impulsive emotions, his lifelong habit of protecting the outcast and unfortunate. No stray animal was ever turned away from Jane Clemens' door" Like him she was unconventional.

This can be clearly seen in the section of this novel called "A Damned Human Race". In this section Twain speaks about the debate over free will and determinism. The animals are condemned for being what they are. The curious part of this essay is the machine part. Twain has something up his sleeve in this section, posing the question, who is the machine? And what is its' purpose?

I believe the purpose of the machine was placed here in order to be compared to the human. Humans are given reason and the ability to make choices yet; Twain places the human lower on the chain than animals. Twain is correct; animals don't willingly seek revenge on each other like humans do. Animals only kill and take what they need to survive, with no intentions of harming the other animal. This is the creation of nature, and it's...