The Two Faces of Mark Twain




Dramatic literature


] a man can never be a humorist in thought or in deed, until he can feel

the springs of pathos [ ... ]. Trust me, he

was never yet properly funny who was

not capable at times of being very serious.

Mark twain (Quoted by McNaughton 12).


The genius and personality of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) were marked by contrary pulls, and that among other reasons made him one of the most controversial figures of his time. He was certainly not the vulgar funny man that Matthew Arnold made him out to be, but a very interesting and multi-faceted personality who, far from writing only for the uncultivated masses, addressed some very serious questions that are still central to American life: for instance, social responsibility versus personal and domestic irresponsibility, juvenile innocence versus adult criminality, racism as practiced by individuals and institutions versus liberal humanism, and slavery versus freedom and so on.

Mark Twain's life and works represent baffling contradictions an continuing conflicts that were largely unsuspected during his lifetime and for a considerable period afterwards; he was a humorist who combined the role of the comedian and the buffoon with that of the philosopher, cynic and satirist; an optimist who believed in all kinds of unheard-of inventions and eccentric modem gadgets, and landed in bankruptcy by pouring money into those gadgets in the certainty that one day they would make him fabulously rich; a pessimist who believed that life was basically a bad dream, that money ruled the world and that money was intrinsically evil; a savagely cynical realist as well as an idealist who had his own Utopia to project.


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How to Cite

Hussein , D. A. M. (2008). The Two Faces of Mark Twain. Queen Arwa University Journal, 3(3), 24.


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