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Mark Twain’s Satirical Influence on Modern Day Society

Mark Twain, is a famous American writer and humorist, whose best work is characterized by broad, often irreverent humor or biting social satire. Mark Twain, no doubt, had a lot of influence on the modern day society through his satirical writings.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pseudonym, Mark Twain, is a famous American writer and humorist, whose best work is characterized by broad, often irreverent humor or biting social satire. Twain’s writing is also known for realism of place and language, memorable characters, and condemnation of hypocrisy and oppression (“Mark Twain,” 2009). What does the word ‘satire’ mean? According to the Encarta English Dictionary (2009), ‘satire’ is the use of wit, especially irony, sarcasm, and ridicule, to criticize faults. As you follow along, you will see that Mark Twain, no doubt, had a lot of influence on the modern day society through his satirical writings.

Twain’s work was inspired by the unconventional American West, and the popularity of his work marked the end of the domination of American literature by New England writers. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech.  He had a very important role in creating and popularizing a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. His ability to accomplish a change in the literature also had an effect on the American reverence for European and British culture and all other things associated with it. So his satire has greatly influenced the course of history.

In his widely acclaimed masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he talks about a teenage boy by the name of Huck Finn whose father is an alcoholic. His father kidnaps him, but he manages to escape and together with a runaway slave, Jim, they sail down the Mississippi on a raft. Instead of turning Jim in, Huck goes against the society and makes a decision to help Jim break free from slavery. Through this adventure, Mark Twain focuses on three traits: racism, alcoholism and mob mentality. You know that Mark Twain has passed some valuable messages across, one of which being similar to a book judged by its cover (Quest4Glory, 2004). His messages have been the basis of most human right activists in our present day. For example, though racism was part of the story, yet the moral of the story remains clear: there is more to people than color, just like there is more to a book than its cover.

Also, Mark Twain, through his book The Gilded Age (1873), described the social, political corruption that has ravaged the American nation. And today, the period of the 1870s is regarded as ‘The Gilded Age’. This is one of the influences of Mark Twain’s satire on modern day society. Again, many writers, generations after his demise regarded Mark Twain as their major inspiration. Examples include Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, etc.

 We can therefore assert that modern day society has been greatly influenced by Twain’s satire. You can see that his works have opened the eyes of the American people and that of the world to issues of racism, freedom, morality and self-definition in the society.

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