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A Critical Evaluation of the Damned Human Race

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Matt Wrage

Dr. Melissa Rigney

English 102

25 February 2017

A Critical Evaluation of The Damned Human Race

        Has the human race descended to the point where it has lost all morality and has become the “Lowest Animal” in existence (Twain 1)? This is the question that author Mark Twain discusses in his satirical essay, The Damned Human Race. Composed of metaphors and analogies, this piece offers examples of the unfavorable traits of man; traits that could, in fact, lead to the extinction of mankind. In the following paragraphs, I will share how in spite of using of satirical and sweeping statements, Twain’s use of appeals successfully inclines his readers to question their own morality.

        Throughout Twain’s essay you will find examples of pathos as he attempts to appease the emotions of the reader. He demonstrates this through his many “experiments” that are composed of metaphors which persuade the reader to reflect upon their own experiences or knowledge of each trait examined (Twain 1). For instance, Twain describes the cruelty that man displays by presenting an article that reports how three monks were inhumanely put to death by fire and another put to death with “atrocious cruelty” (Twain 2). He then questions morality by asking the reader “Do we inquire into the details? No: or we should find out the prior was subjected to unprintable mutilation” (Twain 2). This statement alludes to the fact that humans may be more acceptable of cruelty if they remain ignorant of the subject and/or facts. In addition, Twain makes use of this metaphor to engage the emotions of the reader and to allow them to feel the sadness, shame, and anger that he felt at the time of this composition.

        A second appeal that Mark Twain used to engage his audience throughout this essay pertains to logical reasoning and is called logos. Although he relied heavily upon metaphors and analogies instead of scientific supporting evidence, the examples he provides are undeniable and offer enough logic to make them successful. For example, Twain compares man’s lust for money with the gathering habits of animals. He shares an obvious fact that “many men who have accumulated more millions of money than they can ever use have shown a rabid hunger for more” (Twain 2). As a reader, we can speculate this to be true by cross-referencing the examples that history has provided from the past. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the animal, Twain states in reference, “I furnished a hundred different kinds of wild and tame animals the opportunity to accumulate vast stores of food, but none of them would do it” (Twain 2). As Twain concludes the comparison between man and animal, he states that man is “avaricious and miserably; they are not” (Twain 2).

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