Different authors have different methodologies and techniques in which they present their literary work so that it presents their ideas to readers in the best way possible. Literature techniques are signatures that differentiate between writers.
Mark Twain is one of the literary giants who have done so much literature work that is identifiable through his own literary techniques. One of his greatest literary works “Man the Lowest Animal” and reflects his writing style and techniques. This paper presents a critical analysis of his work on “Man the Lowest Animal.”
“Man the Lowest Animal”
Having lived in the 18th century, Twain must have encountered worst case scenarios of cruelty of mankind as he tried many ventures in life. His life is centered on significant and influential people although he did not achieve much wealth status. Despite being a great writer, he is observant of nature and humanity. Arguably, his life inspired his writing style and technique.
Mark twain definitely uses overgeneralization of the human versus animal existence. He begins his argument by pointing out to a specific unique scenario or example and then goes on to make it look general to the whole world at large. For instance, he describes the charming sport where hunters kill 72 buffalos to entertain the English earl.
They eat a part of one buffalo and let the others to rot. He relates this to anaconda that only kills for survival and even then, it cannot kill more than what is necessary for survival. He uses overgeneralization technique to make this particular situation represent the universal conditions. This approach is certainly biased on one side and as such, the literature work might not appeal to readers who prefer neutrality and thought consciousness.
Twain arguably uses a one sided approach to reality on the ground. Surprisingly nowhere in the whole article does he give credit to the human race despite there being so many people who ardently support the course of humanity.
All his literature work is filled with episodes of worst things that human beings do such as killing for pleasure, racism, slavery, and cruelty. He totally fails to acknowledge the other side of human nature that makes him custodian for the world. He does not even give hope for mankind regarding his position as presented on the article but places him on a defenseless corner.
Sarcasms and irony define Twain’s technique on “Man the Lowest Animal.” The whole article is a twist of irony of life. He uses this technique to drive his theme of morality home. The article’s opening remarks are full of sarcasm. “Did today’s newspaper contain a headline about people (Irish, Lebanese, Chilean) fighting somewhere in the world? Most likely, it did” (Twain 2).
He tries to appeal to the reader to take sides using sarcastic language from the word go and he surely maintains this for the rest of his article. Anaconda-earl analogy, ant-man example, and zoo experiment are all examples of how he uses sarcasm to sell his theme. His work is full of irony in that man is the Supreme Being who has ultimate authority to shape nature in the way he deems best. Despite all claims against man as the lowest animal, he has revolutionized the world to its present status.
Undeniably, Twain hits the nail on the head by touching on most sensitive and sentimental aspects of human nature. He dedicates last few paragraphs hitting on fundamentals of human existence to strengthen his argument. He attacks man’s freedom by claiming he is the only slave, conscience by claiming that he is the unconscious animal and finally challenges same religion that brings men together.
For instance, he argues that, though cats have loose morals, they are safely judged since they have no conscience. Man on the other hand, exhibits the same characteristics but cannot be excused since he has conscience. Men kill, fight, and do brutal things for fun. Animals do not kill for fun but men have made killing fellow men the source of entertainment and satisfaction. By making such an attack, he easily buys the reader to his idea.
Finally, Twain uses social criticism throughout his work by challenging the moral status of mankind. Indeed his strongest sentiment comes out when he argues that man is seen as the only reasoning animal. However, by a measure of his acts compared to all other animals he is the unreasoning animal. All his acts of cruelty, brutality, and slavery can only make him come out as the unreasoning animal. By all standards, he ranks bottom (Twain 2).
Mark Twain is undeniably a genius. Through use of different literary techniques and methodology, he is able to sell his theme and make the reader to agree with his idea. He uses social criticism, irony and sarcasm, overgeneralization, directness as well as one-sided approach to convey his message on this article. Though he fails on some aspects, his literature work comes out convincing and worth contemplating on.
Twain, Mark. Mark Twain’s book of animals. California: University of California Press, 2010.Print.