Dear (Instructor’s Name):
I am writing this essay to share my analysis and arguments on Mark Twain’s conflicting theories of human evolution and behavior. Through my arguments, I hope to alter whatever negative perspectives my readers keep against human behavior.
I always have the notion that literary analysis is the most challenging task in essay writing. However, I realized that interpreting the various styles of persuasion and literary compounds that Mark Twain used throughout his essay helped me to learn analytical skills in expressing my views and supporting my arguments.
During the course of my writing, revision and editing was mostly focused on interpreting and understanding the author’s claims which were quite complex as the author often used hypothetical and unique phrases all throughout the essay. Understanding his theories was quite challenging, however, I managed to support my arguments on conflicting ideas through serious research. I think my arguments were the best part of the essay which I enjoyed very much.
A great writer like Mark Twain fascinates me so I chose to evaluate his essay on “The Damned Human Race” to acquaint myself with his brilliant writing style.
Critical Evaluation Essay
Mark Twain’s “The Damned Human Race” poses a threat to man’s superiority over animals. His claim that man descended from higher animals is by far a contrasting principle to the widely accepted Darwinian Theory. Mark Twain’s essay has lost its credibility and success because of irrational and subjective claims drawn from conclusions that were motivated by fallacies and his own sarcastic view of human nature.
In trying to support his claims, he compares and contrasts human nature to that of several animals. He began his observations on the earl where on a buffalo hunting sport, “they killed seventy-two of those great animals, and ate part of one of them and left the seventy-one to rot” (Twain, 1905). Seven calves were put into the anaconda’s cage where “the grateful reptile immediately crushed one of them and swallowed it, then lay back satisfied” (Twain, 1905). This implies that the earl is cruel than the anaconda because he killed many buffalos for his own pleasure while the anaconda only killed one to satisfy its hunger. While it is true that an anaconda will only kill what it eats, some animals do kill for more than they could eat and abandon the rest. Wolves, fox, polar bears, coyotes, leopards, dogs and house cats have this common behavior to kill more than they could eat. Cats kill mice for fun and recently a dolphin was documented to have killed a porpoise for merely enjoying the process. These animals proved to be just as cruel and wasteful as the earl which made this claim hypothetical in nature.
In another comparison, he found out that man is avaricious and would step on others for his own personal gain while animals would accumulate only enough. He claims that “many men who have accumulated millions of money than they can ever use have shown a rabid hunger for more” (Twain, 1905). He made good points in this claim in the basis that greed is a dark side of human nature. It has been presumed that selfishness, greed and competitiveness are basic human behaviors and consequence of human evolution (Keltner, 2004). However, this claim is drawn from a generalized conclusion considering that not all human beings have this characteristic. Human beings are born with a compassionate instinct that is deeply rooted in human’s brains, bodies and in the ways they communicate in which animals don’t possess (Keltner, 2004), thus, humans nurture a feeling of concern towards the welfare of others.
His claim that “man is the cruel animal” (Twain, 1905) seemed to be drawn from his own sarcasm. In contrary, Humans posses body, soul and spirit in which “the spirit enables humans to feel love that animals do not posses (Deem, 2012}.
Further, he claims that humans have low morals. “It is the secret of his degradation. It is the quality that enables him to do wrong” (Twain, 1905). This is a general statement based on the author’s opinions and not facts. Humans have the ability to make moral judgments to choose good from evil and to live in accordance with the moral standards of the society. Finally, he claims that humans are the lowest of all species, “we have descended and degenerated from some far ancestor –some microscopic atom” (Twain, 1905). This claim speaks of human degradation drawn from a conclusion that lacks reality and substance. Human beings and animals may share the same remarkable instincts and habits but something sets man apart, and that’s intelligence (Morris, 2003). This proves that humans are still the highest of animals.
Mark Twain used various forms of persuasions all throughout the essay which proves his brilliance and knowledge on human behavior. His combination of humor, hostility, sarcasm and wit, left a lasting impression that persuade readers to agree why the human race is damned. Although his observations and experiments allow him to produce logical conclusions, most of them were self-opinionated derived from generalized assumptions that made this essay weak and unreliable.
Keltner, D. “The Compassionate Instinct”. Greater Good. 2004. Web. October, 19, 2013.
Morris, J. “Is Man A Higher Animal”? Institute for Creation Research. 2003. Web. October 19, 2013
Twain, M. (1905). “The Damned Human Race”. Just Wondering by Zen Gardner. Feb. 23, 2013. Web. October, 19, 2013.