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Satire in The Lowest Animal by Mark Twain

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Zeba Huque

on 6 February 2017

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Transcript of Satire in The Lowest Animal by Mark Twain

In "The Lowest Animal," Mark Twain criticizes human's need for power and entitlement through the use of reduction and irony. He satirically degrades humans by making comparisons with animals in certain situations that reveal how irrational the former species can be, despite being conscious. Twain expresses irony by describing the evolution of man to be a "Descent" rather than an "Ascent" (par. 1).
Overall Satire
Satire
"Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven. He was at it in the time of the Caesars, he was at it in Mahomet’s time, he was at it in the time of the Inquisition, he was at it in France a couple of centuries, he was at it in England in Mary’s day, he has been at it ever since he first saw the light, he is at it today in Crete—he will be at it somewhere else tomorrow." (par. 20)
Gosh that's biting!
Andrea Medina, Meghan Hamrick, Natalie Browning, Zeba Huque
Satire in "The Lowest Animal" by Mark Twain
Satire
Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from
Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame, I added a Scottish Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople, a Greek Christian from Crete, an Armenian, a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas, a Buddhist from China, a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away two whole days. When I came back to note results,
the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh—not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a higher court" (par. 23)
Satire
"And in the intervals between campaigns, he washes the blood off his hands and works for the universal brotherhood of man, with his mouth" (Par. 19).
"Some of my experiments were quite curious. In the course of my reading I had come across a case where, many years ago, some hunters on our great Plains organized a buffalo hunt for the entertainment of an English earl. They had charming sport. They killed seventy-two of those great animals, and ate part of one of them and left seventy-one to rot"(30-34).
Twain tries to add some humorous effect to his outrage. He emphasizes that humans are quite prodigal. He may even be making a reference to when frontier life was beginning in America. The Native Americans believed that buffalo were sacred and never wasted any of the buffalo (ate the meat, used the hide for clothing or teepees, bones provided fire,etc) while the frontiersmen only used the hide.
Satirical techniques
"In order to determine the difference between an anaconda and an earl (if any) I caused seven young calves to be turned into the anaconda's cage. The grateful reptile immediately crushed one of them and swallowed it, then lay back satisfied. It showed no further interest in the calves, and no disposition to harm them. I tried this experiment with other anacondas; always the same result. The fact stood proven that the difference between an earl and an anaconda is that the earl is cruel and the anaconda isn't; and that the earl wantonly destroys what he has no use for, but the anaconda doesn't. This seemed to suggest that the anaconda was not descended from the earl. It also seemed to suggest that the earl was descended from the anaconda, and had lost a good deal in the transition" (par. 7).
Text:
http://mslamorte.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/8/4/10843873/twain_lowestanimal.pdf
Twain utilizes satire to impose on the audience a juvenalian tone. With the use of analogies that compares men to animals, Twain is able to show humanly faults in our creation.
"Roosters keep harems. but it is by consent of their concubines;therefore no wrong is done. Men keep harems but it is by brute force, privileged by atrocious laws, which the other sex was allowed no hands in making. In this matter man occupies a far lower place than the rooster"(58-60).
Reduction
By comparing roosters to humans, Twain reveals their needs of sexual gratifications is greater than their sense of "fairness". Twain claims that "man occupies a far lower place than the rooster"(60). This implies a reduction of man's status and their position in the chain of command. Twain describes men of having "brute force" and "atrocious laws"thus aiding the image that men are savage and barbaric in their needs for sexual gratification while roosters have "the consent of their concubines" which creates an image of "just action". Twain also degrades the "value" of men by showing how roosters have the "consent of their concubines; therefore no wrong is done"(60) while on the other hand women are not allowed "no hands in making" (60) in what is done to their bodies by the "brute" men.
Satirical Techniques
Symbolism
Twain utilizes symbolism to make a comparison between man and animal. Twain makes man the earl while the animal the anaconda. The emphasis of human's wasteful traits is projected when the anaconda was "grateful". Twain slyly states the "struggles" of being an animal, so if the animal, in this case the anaconda, receives food it is a blessing. In a human's case, it would be considered just another "item" given to them. Twain also pokes fun at the Darwinian Theory because he incorporates the idea of evolution.

Satire
"The higher animals engage in individual fights, but never in organized masses. Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out, as the Hessians did in our Revolution, and as the boyish Prince Napoleon did in the Zulu war, and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel" (par. 16).
Picture Citations
In order of Appearance
Twain points out one distinct feature of man: religion. Religion is an entity meant to answer the unanswerable, but man takes advantage of it and uses religion as justification to attack others.
Irony
Asyndeton
"He was at it in the time of the Caesars, he was at it in Mahomet’s time, he was at it in the time of the Inquisition, he was at it in France a couple of centuries, he was at it in England in Mary’s day, he has been at it ever since he first saw the light, he is at it today in Crete—he will be at it somewhere else tomorrow."
Repeating instances where religion played a part in man's actions discloses how it has impacted humanity since almost the beginning of time. Twain shows how religion is one of the factors that pushes man into trying to conquer the world.
Twain elucidates how a prominent difference between man and animal is war. Man is the only species that will "exterminate" his own kind with a "calm pulse" (par. 16). No other species of animal has ever engaged in war, another reason why man cannot be considered to be at the height of evolution.
Polysyndeton
"He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out, as the Hessians did in our Revolution, and as the boyish Prince Napoleon did in the Zulu war, and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel."
The examples Twain inlcudes provide evidence to instances where man turned on his own species in "cold blood" (par. 16). These instances reinforce the idea that man is on a self-destructive path.
Compared to animals, humans are incapable of coming together for the greater good, according to Twain. The animals that were of diverse species lived together in "peace" and "affectionately," but the humans could not forgo from their differences.
Irony
"Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame, I added a Scottish Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople, a Greek Christian from Crete, an Armenian, a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas, a Buddhist from China, a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army colonel from Wapping."
There is irony in the people who were put into the cage. The most outstanding included the Armenian, Buddhist, and the Salvation Army Colonel. One would expect these people to be the most considerate and accepting of all, (considering the Armenian Holocaust, the fact that Buddhism entails to do no evil, and that the Salvation Army deals with charity and hospitality), but the opposite ensued.
Humans will go from harming and competing with one another physically, but will use his mental knowledge to make peace with the same group of men that he has harmed.
Irony
"And in the intervals between campaigns, he washes the blood off his hands and works for the universal brotherhood of man with his mouth" (Par 110).

The quote is ironic in the sense that humans will meet with the "universal brotherhood of man" directly after he has finished "washing blood off his hands". Man works towards his own humanity through exploiting the world around him.
Satire
"It has no other office. It is incapable of preforming any other function. It could never hate been intended to perform any other. Without it, man could do no wrong. He would rise at once to the level of the Higher Animals" (Par 115).
Repetition & Irony
"It has no other office. It is incapable of performing any other function. It could never hate been intended to perform any other. Without it, man could do no wrong. He would rise at once to the level of Higher Animals" (Par. 155).

The word "it" being repeated at the beginning of each description of humans is ironic because humans are known as being the only mammal being named he or she. The use of referring to humans as "it" is to remind the readers that Twain views them as a non-civilized group rather than a civilized one.
Satire
Irony
As we decipher this quote, and reveal its deepest meanings, the irony begins to stand out which produces a quite subjective or humorous tone to allow the human animals to be further criticized. The ironic statement contradicts its own beliefs which had been previously mentioned in the passage regarding a human animals ability to observe and communicate insightful information, and conceive it in an orderly manner.
Twain describes a man's ability, and instinct, to cover himself so that others cannot see him in his barest form. The 'cover ups' serve to further symbolize the corruption among the human animals as they work to hide many things, and store many secrets which they do not want others to become aware of.
"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 then enter a drawing room with his breast and back naked, so alive are he and his mates to indecent suggestion." (P. 12)
http://www.perekop.info/mark-twain-crimean-voyage/
WWW.GRANDPARADISE.COM
WWW.NOTBUYINGANYTHING,BLOGSPOT.COM
http://www.irreligious.org/2013/11/religion-in-nutshell.html
https://www.pinterest.com/jgmorton0944/futurama/
https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10008189
https://www.coursera.org/learn/science-of-meditation
https://give.salvationarmyusa.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=national_donation_form
newshour-tc.pbs.org/newshour/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/marktwain_cc_img.jpg
"He is the only animal that loves his neighbor
as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight."
Twain expresses irony in the idea that a man that can love his neighbor can also end his life, all in the name of religion. One would think that love could overcome discrepancies between two people, but Twain points out how humans invest too much effort in trying to make his ideas everyone's ideas, and take extreme measures to achieve that feat.
Reductio ad absurdum
"The fact stood proven that the difference between an earl and an anaconda is that the earl is cruel and the anaconda isn't; and that the earl wantonly destroys what he has no use for, but the anaconda doesn't."
Anacondas are normally viewed as terrifying death machines that kill their prey by choking it death. When Twain claims that an earl, a mere human, is much more "cruel" than an anaconda, he shows just how low man has reached in his eyes. His exaggeration makes man out to be cold-hearted and ruthless.
Invective
"Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity—these are strictly confined to man; he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them."
Twain calls man out for the atrocities he has made with his own hands. By clearly stating that the aforementioned qualities are "confined" to man, humanity is singled out for its capability to have cultivated such shameful characteristics. Man is once again belittled for his caustic attributes.
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