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What literary elements are employed in MArk Twain's Lowest Animal? Is satire one...

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briarand | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 14, 2008 at 3:06 AM via web

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What literary elements are employed in MArk Twain's Lowest Animal?

Is satire one of them.

For example whats the theme and is irony used.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 21, 2008 at 4:44 AM (Answer #1)

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Absolutely!  Satire was one of Twain's most successful weapons.  Satire is poking fun of something, but the result is not always a "ha-ha!" effect.  More often than not, the result is a "oh! he's right...now what do we do about it?" effect.  Twain wanted people to notice the dark side of human nature and while laughing at our weaknesses, continually attempting to improve the world.

In this essay, Twain compares humans to all other animals.  He focuses on our faults and traits that other animals don't have.  For instance, greed, vanity, cruelty for the sake of being cruel, jealousy, etc.

One of the most famous quotes from this piece is:

Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity—these are strictly confined to man; he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them. They hide nothing; they are not ashamed. Man, with his soiled mind, covers himself. He will not even enter a drawing room with his breast and back naked, so alive are he and his mates to indecent suggestion. Man is “The Animal That Laughs.” But so does the monkey, as Mr. Darwin pointed out; and so does the Australian bird that is called the laughing jackass. No—Man is the Animal that Blushes. He is the only one that does it—or has occasion to.

At first glance, it seems harsh, but upon further examination, we realize Twain is right.  We are all these things.  How can we fix it?

Irony and satire are rampant in this piece.  Go back and find your examples.

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