Mark Twain Analyzed In Depth English Literature Essay

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Many authors write books and novels to process their experiences or to show government problems in that specific time-period. Samuel Langhorne Clemens was one of those authors who incorporated his life experiences into his books. His contributions to literature have evolved into the literature we know today. They do not write it official but behind the story of the book are always critics on or at something. Clemens is better known under his pseudonym, Mark Twain. He wrote autobiographies and critic-novels but also travel books and newspaper articles. Different people made statements about him, even H.L.Mencken who said: "I believe that Mark Twain had a clearer vision of life that he came nearer to its elementals and was less deceived by its false appearances, than any other American who has ever presumed to manufacture generalizations, not excepting Emerson. I believe that he was the true father of our national literature, the first genuinely American artist of the royal blood" (CMG). As Mark Twain gave the world a new style of literature through his books (Legend of Mark Twain).

During Clemens lifetime he could see how the "young United States evolve from a nation, torn apart by internal conflicts, to one of international power" (Mark Twain House) and "could see the vast growth and change of the country" (Mark Twain House). He experienced the end of slavery, the most important years of industrialization, much advancement in technology, and also different governments and foreign wars. During industrialization there was also corruption and only a few businessmen gained wealth through ruthless work ethics (WGBH). All these things play an important role in his books, including also his experiences through travelling and various personal life changes. The first movement was from Florida to Missouri with his family after he was born. The Mississippi River is later a stop in his career and also the coulisse for Huckleberry Finn. Clemens already started travelling on his own with 17 years. He travelled through Europe and the United States, proof is found in books where he describes for example the The awful German Language and also nice places he visited there (Schriftsteller). In his social life he had to accept many losses: Growing up as the last of five children, losing his father in young age, and the moving to different places because of economic problems and wars. His brother Orion was the key for the start of his writing because he published Samuel Langhorne Clemens travelogues in his newspaper, the "Hannibal Journal". Clemen's wife Olivia L. Langdon died 6 years before his own death. His children also died. Main experiences made Clemens in his life also through career changes. He started and ended with being a writer, but between he also made experiences as typesetter, riverboat pilot, secretary and government worker, miner, reporter, owner of a fabric, as well as a publisher. Most important of these careers was of course his writing, gaining knowledge through many experiences. Being an apprentice riverboat pilot also is one of the most important parts in his life (Mark Twain House). His pseudonym Mark Twain means "mark of two fathoms" which was the safe deepness when you drove a boat on the Mississippi, where he worked at the beginning, which is also written down in his book Life on the Mississippi. It was more an accident, to end up as a riverboat pilot. He was actually on his way to South America, to use coca leaves for endurance like the Indians, but he stopped by in New Orleans and changed his mind. And with the beginning of Mark Twain in 1963, he became "a man with two identities" (Legend of Mark Twain). Named as Sam or Clemens from family and friends, he himself already signed autographs with Samuel L. Clemens Mark Twain.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens always had running comments on American society, where he criticized the social morals, politics and human nature, most of it based on own experiences. When he started working as a reporter he made critical comments on the "American way of life". He once said that "the lack of money is the root of all evil" (Mark Twain's Notebook). Though he talks against it, there is a contradiction in his actions. He was well known as a "humorist and lecturer in his days" (The Legend of Mark Twain) and he gained most of his wealth through those endeavors and always tried to be good and high in publicity. He himself lived the "American way of life" and tried to live it. His political views can be found in all his books, novels, essays or various newspaper articles and caricatures.

Examples of Clemen's political views are the Gilded Age, describing the political corruption which also "refers to the tastes and jaded sensibilities of America's wealth at that time" (Mark Twain House). The era is named after that book because during that time the corruption of separation of poor and rich people was enormous. - "In a State where there is no fever of speculation, no inflamed desire for sudden wealth, where the poor are all simple-minded and contented, and the rich are all honest and generous, where society is in a condition of primitive purity and politics is the occupation of only the capable and the patriotic, there are necessarily no materials for such a history as we have constructed out of an ideal commonwealth" (The Gilded Age, Preface). Another book is The Prince and the Pauper (Mark Twain 10 books) which attacks the social hypocrisies and injustice for people of a different social and financial league.

The first and best example is the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain 10 books), which illustrate the failure of reconstruction in the post Civil War South. Mark Twain's working on the Mississippi River has especially in this book a big influence on his writing. After he himself worked on it and thought he could find freedom on it, now in the book it should symbolizes the way to freedom for the boy and the slave. He gives views into slavery and racism, which played an important role during that time and still plays today especially for particular African Americans. They saw the inherent racism of the author and wanted to band it. The problem is not the story board, but the use of specific racist words: "Well, the nigger unlocked the padlock when he went in, and he locked it again, when he came out" (Huckleberry Finn, Chapter 34). And even that is nothing to blame on him, because he grew up in that time era, where those words were used. The story of the book also totally speaks against it; a white boy helps a black runaway slave, which does not sound like a racist theme at all (The Legend of Mark Twain). The time period and the fact that the family used to have a slave is only a little part for a racist.

The young Huckleberry born in a white family, which has a low position in the society, is kidnapped by his father, because he gets to know about his found. The boy can run away with the slave Jim. Together they are driving on the Mississippi River and live through many adventures. Huckleberry Finn starts thinking by his own but also creating own rules. By meeting Tom Sawyer, he has to learn and accept rules and being respectful. Finn is gaining more and more knowledge even if he is a young boy: "Tom told me what his plan was, and I see in a minute it was worth fifteen of mine for style, and would make Jim just as free a man as mine would, and maybe get us all killed besides. So I was satisfied, and said we would waltz in on it." (Huckleberry Finn, Chapter 34).

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, alias Mark Twain is an important writer during the time he was living and today. He was not only living in a time-period were many changes in the country happened, because through travelling and the connected job and life-changes he made many experiences. In all his books you can see a connection to his life or to the specific time-sequence. His best friend William D. Howells stated about him: "So far as I know, Mr. Clemens is the first writer to use in extended writing the fashion we all use in thinking, and to set down the thing that comes into his mind without fear or favor of the thing that went before or the thing that may be about to follow" which made his writing so popular at that time and today (My Mark Twain). He is not scared of the government and connects his thoughts in his stories.

Work Cited

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Smith, Russell. "The Legend of Mark Twain". Mark Twain Forum. Web. 1994

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