Essay about Mark Twains Influence On American Literature

Mark Twain was one of the most celebrated and known author of his time. He was an American author, humorist, adventurer and jokester. He was a man who felt strongly about his beliefs and opinions. He is American icon still to this day. Twain is known for having a distinct style of writing. Through the use of satire, dialect and irony, Twain made a huge impact on American literature. Mark Twain was a pen name that Samuel Langhorne Clemens wrote under. Clemens was born on November 30th, 1835, in Florida, Missouri. He was the sixth child of Jane Clemens and John Marshall.

He was born two months prematurely and had poor health for the first 10 years of his life. Due to the condition of his health his mother attempted to help him by using an uncountable amount of home remedies. This caused Clemens to cling to his mom so she could take care of him. The boy was constantly pushing his mother’s buttons to test what he could get away with; Clemens once said “my mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. ” Over the years of growing up Clemens inherited his sense of humor from his mother rather than his dad.

His father, John Clemens, was a very serious man who rarely demonstrated affection towards his loved ones. John Clemens made the decision to move with his family due to a series of business failures; this ultimately led them to a town where opportunities were greater. When Samuel was four years old the family moved to Hannibal, a little town on the Mississippi river where there was plenty of steamboat travel, the town is still prominent in these activities to this day. This small town became a huge impact on Clemens soon after their arrival.

He developed a strong attraction to the Mississippi river and the steamboats that frequently passed through there. Throughout the entire day steamboats would travel in and out from all over the world. Clemens often fantasized about becoming the captain of one of the famed steamboats. When Clemens was twelve years old, his father passed away of pneumonia. The family suffered with financial problems, but Clemens dropped out of school in order to help with them. He took a printer’s apprentice job to Joseph Ament so he could provide money for the rest of his family.

Samuel worked there for six years, and started to sell comics to multiple newspapers by the age of 18. At 21 years old, Clemens set out to be a river boat pilot only to be turned down; the devastation of the Civil War had shut down the entire Mississippi River. For 3 weeks, he served as a confederate soldier, but this didn’t fit to Clemens’ desires. He took the initiative to travel westward with his brother, Orion Clemens, by stagecoach to the Nevada Territory. Clemens was anticipating to make a great fortune by mining in the area. However, just the opposite happened to him.

He was unable to find the precious metals and ended up working in the quartz mill in order to support himself. To increase his income, Clemens provided amusing letters to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. In 1862 he became an official reporter for the paper and he wrote about a wide variety of topics. In 1863, Clemens started signing his articles under his pseudonym “Mark Twain,” a phrase that meant “two fathoms deep – a safe depth for a steamboat. ” In the following year, Clemens and his new name moved to San Francisco to avoid legal trouble after challenging a rival editor to a fight.

In San Francisco, Twain worked for The Call, which was a local paper, as a reporter. Over the next few years Twain worked on various publications and met writers Artemus Ward and Bret Harte, who encouraged him in his writings. In the year 1865, Twain wrote the short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” based upon a tale he heard in the gold fields. This short came a sensation and within a few months Mark Twain was known around the world. On April 21st, 1910 Twain passed away. “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835.

It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: “Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together. ” (Twain). Mark Twain had a unique writing style that complimented his personality. He was a funny sob who used realism, irony and satire to get his message into his stories for the audience. He ridiculed flaws of the “doomed human race” (Twain).

Twain’s humor often dealt with ethnicities, social classes, and nationalities. Twain incorporated boyhood memories from his own life into the stories he wrote. He often used children as the main characters in his books. These said children are portrayed to show societal and political flaws. A majority of Twain’s themes are geared towards societal imperfections. One of Twain’s first works, titled “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” was published in 1876. This book tells of a boy by the name Tom Sawyer who lives with his Aunt Polly in a small town in St. Petersburg, Missouri along the Mississippi River.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” was a fun-filled adventure story, but Twain manages to portray the reality of life. Through romance, mischievous behavior, fun, fear and friendships Tom Sawyer learns with every choice comes a repercussion. Irony was one of the main prospects that Twain liked to touch on in this book, for example in chapter 18 Aunt Polly was mad at Tom but he told her about the “dream” (page 97). It was ironic that Aunt Polly thought the boys were kidding about going “pirating, because they were being serious about staying there and she should have been angrier than what she was.

Another book that he wrote in 1881, “The Prince and the Pauper,” tells of a story of two boys who were born on the same day and looked identical, but were not related. One named, Tom Canty is a pauper and the other, Edward Tudor is a prince. Through a series of unplanned events, Tom and Edward meet and exchange clothing, which leads to everyone confusing the identity of the two boys. The main theme in this story that Twain stresses is that you should never judge someone for the way they look or what social class they are a part of.

You should take the time to get to know someone before you say anything about them as a person. Twain emphasizes the difference between value and worth through satire. “Clothes make the man. ” (Twain) Clothes are highly symbolic in this book. No matter who the person was in the clothes they were treated upon how they were dressed. In 1894, Twain published a book by the name of “The Tragedy Of Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins”. Pudd’nhead displayed Twains’ negativity towards the world as he faced the troubles life was throwing at him.

He mocked the world for its racism. In this book Twains point was that white supremacy is a fraud. Ones superiority over someone else has nothing to do with the blood that runs through one’s veins. “From Roxy’s manner of speech, a stranger would have expected her to be black, but she was not. Only one-sixteenth of her was black, and that sixteenth did not show [… ] To all intents and purposes Roxy was as white as anybody, but the one-sixteenth of her which was black out-voted the other fifteen parts and made her a negro.

She was a slave and salable as such. (page 32-33) Twain was a consistent writer throughout his career. He knew how to get the audience’s attention and he did it exceedingly well. Even when his life seemed to be spiraling downhill, he always seemed to be able to crack some sort of joke. His humor goes to the roots of human nature, which is why humorists today still laugh at what he had to say. Even after his death, he still remains a highly respected and admired author. His works are a huge impact on American literature and culture. He will always be remembered as someone who expressed something that no one else had the courage to.