Give examples of various forms of comedy in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A master of comedy, Mark Twain employs several comic devices in his short story "The Celebrated Frog of Calaversas County."


In his description of Jim Smiley, Simon Wheeler exaggerates the man's propensity to bet on anything, declaring,

"If he even see a straddle bug start to go anywheres, he would bet you how long it would take him to get to--to wherever he was going to, and you took him up, he would foller that straddle bug to Mexico but what he would find out where he was bound for and how long he was on the road."

Simon Wheeler certainly uses obvious exaggerations in his description of his frog's talents.  For instance, he says,

"You never see a frog so modest and straightor'ard as he was, for all he was so gifted."

Smiley said all a frog wanted [needed] was education, and he could do 'most anything.

In describing Simon Wheeler, the narrator himself uses hyperbole:

...he regarded it [his story] as a really important matter, and admired its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in finesse.....


One obvious comparison that is humorous is the name of the frog belonging to Simon Wheeler:  Daniel Webster, one of America's leading statesmen.

Jim Smiley has a dog without hind legs named after a president:  Andrew Jackson.


The description of Jim Smiley's dog whose legs were cut off by a circular saw that Smiley insists upon betting on until the dog "give Smiley a look, as much as to say his heart was broke, and it was his fault...."

The most humorous situation occurs as the opponent to Simon Wheeler, Jim Smiley, out tricks Wheeler by "fill[ing] him pretty near up to his chin..." with quailshot.


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