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Example research essay topic: Mark Twain Samuel Clemens - 1,673 words

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Man Mark Twain Mark Twain Man is made of dirt Man is a museum of diseases, a home of impurities, who begins as dirt and departs as stench. (1) -Mark Twain When Most people think of Mark Twain, they think of the Mississippi, or gold mining, or such things. But few people have come to realize the free-spoken and often foreboding side of Twain. Twain did much more than write fiction about a boy s youth or a frog. Today, few people know Mark Twain s true beliefs on many subjects. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida Missouri. Twain s father died in 1874, and he was forced to go to work for a newspaper and printing firm.

Twain left Missouri in 1853 and for the next 5 years moved from city to city, earning poor wages in various print shops. When the Civil War broke out, (1861 - 1865) Twain served for two weeks with a Confederate volunteer company, even though this seemingly went against his later beliefs. He chose not to become involved in the war. He traveled to Carson City, Nevada, in 1861, and unsuccessfully attempted to prospect gold for two years.

On Feb. 2, 1870 he married Olivia Langdon, and in 1872, his infant son, Langdon, died. In 1882 Mark Twain wrote The Prince and the Pauper. Readers were extremely disappointed. In the 1880 s he operated his own publishing firm. He lost almost $ 200, 000 in investments in an elaborate typesetting machine. Then his company declared bankruptcy in April 1894, and Twain found himself publicly humiliated by his inability to pay his debts.

In later years he criticized U. S. foreign policy. Then the misfortune began. Susy, his oldest daughter, died of meningitis in 1896. His wife then died June 5, 1904 of a heart condition.

His youngest daughter, Jean, died Christmas eve, December 24, 1909. He wrote the history Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, which he considered to be his best work. It flopped. He started being more and more removed from the humorous image of his youth, and more and more gloomy, dark, and despairing. In many unpublished works, known as the Letters of the Earth, he expressed his deterministic, pessimistic, and anti-Christian views. (6, 3) You can understand why. Mark Twain was the most distinguished opponent of the Philippine-American War.

In fact, he was vice president of the Anti-imperialist League. He also was an abolitionist and had outspoken views on foreign policy and social justice. People rarely get to hear Twain s essays or reflections on life. (9) To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep saying, Our Country, right or wrong, and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation? (8) Mark Twain wrote the essay: To the Person Sitting in Darkness, on the Philippine-American War. (North American Review 172, Feb. 1901) The purpose of this article is not to describe the terrible offenses against humanity committed in the name of Politics in some of the most notorious East Side districts. They could not be described, even verbally During the last ten months our losses have been 268 killed and 750 wounded; Filipino loss, three thousand two hundred and twenty-seven killed, and 694 wounded And as for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones. (9) Twain had very strong opinions on the Philippine-American War and it showed through his sarcasm.

He had this article and many like it printed in various newspapers. This shocked a number of people by it s being printed. (2) He also wrote on a number of other essays: Congo Free State Horrors, part of an interview with Boston newspapers, Nov. 6, 1905 Twain calls Leopold slayer of 15, 000, 000, interview with the New York World (Dec. 3, 1905) A Salutation Speech from the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth, by Mark Twain, New York Herald (Dec. 30, 1900). A Defense of General Function, by Mark Twain, North American Review, 174 (May 1902). Thomas Brackett Reed, by Mark Twain, Harper s Weekly (Dec. 20, 1902) Carl Schurz, Pilot, by Mark Twain, Harpers Weekly (May 26, 1906) (9) Mark Twain was a strong abolitionist, as can be seen through his writing. Even in Twain s novel The Adventures of Huck Finn, which was written mostly as popular demand, had a theme which portrayed his high regard of blacks. Though he lived in the south, and was brought up with the idea that blacks were inferior, he still found the truth in the world and became a free-thinker.

Here is what William Howells has to say on the subject: No man more perfectly sensed and more entirely abhorred slavery, and no one has ever poured such scorn upon the second-hand. About that time a colored cadet was expelled from West Point for some point of conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman, and there was the usual shabby philosophy in a portion of the press to the effect that a Negro could never feel the claim of honor. The man was fifteen parts white, but, Oh yes, Clemens said, with bitter irony, it was that one part black that undid him. It made him a nigger and incapable of being a gentleman. It was to blame for the whole thing. The fifteen parts white were guiltless. (4) Twain once said abolitionists are despised and ostracized, and insulted by patriots. (7) This is surely true in all respects concerning Twain s life.

Twain was not well-admired for his views on slavery. Twain had a very interesting view on religion and life. I have no special regard for Satan; but, I can at least claim that I have no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little his way, on account of his not having a fair show. All religions issue bibles against him, and say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side. We have none but the evidence for the prosecution, and yet we have rendered the verdict.

To my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English; it is un-American; it is French. (5) Twain has often been called anti-Christian and has rarely gone to church. As Twain aged, he started to show the gloomy view that all humans are selfish, and his doubts about religion and his belief that all people are predetermined and freewill only an illusion. One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it. They also believed the world was flat. One book that expresses his views on religion particularly well was The Mysterious Stranger; it was neglected in the years immediately following his death. (3) In a village in Austria live three village boys: Nikolaus Sep and Theodor.

In this same village lives Father Adolf, who has no fear of the devil, and Father Peter, who is loved by the townspeople, but who s image is tarnished by Father Adolf. In the village also lives an astrologer, who the people fear because he claims to have magical powers. The three boys go into the foothills near the town and the angel Satan appears. Satan performs many miracles to entertain the boys. He creates many miniature people only to destroy them. He declares that he is impatient and unimpressed with man.

He stuffs Father Peter s wallet with money, and the people accuse him of stealing the astrologers money. Satan saves him by showing all the money was minted after the astrologer lost it. Satan returns many years later to tell Theodor that life it s self is only a dream, and that he should dream better dreams. (8) Twain was a humorless cynic in all respects in the later years of his life. His attitude towards life and people was not a good one. My idea of our civilization is that it is a shabby poor thing and full of cruelties, vanities, arrogance, meannesses, and hypocrisies. As for the word, I hate the sound of it, for it conveys a lie; and as for the thing itself, I wish it was in hell, where it belongs. (1) He seemed to have an all around hate of everything and everyone. [Twain] declared that Christianity had done nothing to improve morals and conditions, and that the world under the highest pagan civilization was as well off as it was under the highest Christian influences Long before that I had asked him if he went regularly to church, and he groaned out: Oh yes, I go.

It most kills me, but I go, (7) As you can see, Twain didn t believe in much of anything; he hated all equally. In his more composed old age he ripped on all his fellow man and shared the wisdom of malice and gloom. In the end, you learn that Twain was nothing but a dejected, piteous, hating man full of loathing, abhorrent thoughts that people have grown to love and cherish. Bibliography 1.

Twain s a Lot More then Huck. Capitol Times, Madison, WI. web = 980224 @library&# 038; dye = 0 0 &# 038; diet = 0 2. Twain, Mark.

World Book Encyclopedia, Alan Gribben. Wysiwyg: // 8 / web 3. Works of Mark Twain, Monarch Notes. Twain, Mark. Wysiwyg: // 19 / web 4. Bridges, H.

J. , Pessimism of Mark Twain, As I was Saying. Budd, Louis J. Mark Twain: Social Philosopher. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1962. 5. De Veto, B. , The Symbols of Despair, Mark Twain at Work (1942) 5 +. My Mark Twain By William Dean Howells (New York: Harper &# 038; Brothers, 1910). 6.

Parsons, C. O. , The Devil and Samuel Clemens, Virginia Quarterly Review (1947) 7. Zwick, Jim. Mark Twain on the Philippines web


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