Critical Evaluation: Mark Twains' "The Damned Human Race"

Topics: Religion, Van Wyck Brooks, Human Pages: 2 (643 words) Published: September 30, 2012
Critical Evaluation: Mark Twains' "The Damned Human Race"

At the turn of the 20th century, Mark Twain took on a mission to disprove Darwin's theory that, through evolution; man has "ascended from the lower animals." Mr. Twain believed that man actually de-evolved and are the lesser species - "descending from the higher animals" and spent many grueling months studying the subject. Whether this is a valid argument, seems to be one of opinion, as it is rumored that the author was struggling with financial ruin and the loss of his family. When studying the essay, the reader can't help but notice that Mr. Twain's personal feelings run rampant throughout the paper.

The author begins his "study" by reiterating that, even though all are animals, there is a definite separation between species: human race, quadrupeds and lastly fish, birds, reptiles, etc. He then moves on, with sometimes scathing irony, breaking down various "experiments" he conducted. One such experiment pitted mans' natural instinct against the instincts of an anaconda. He offers the story of an English Earl, visiting the Great Plains, who was welcomed with an organized hunt of buffalo. During this hunt, the men killed "seventy-two of these great animals", yet only utilized (ate) one of the buffalo, allowing the rest to go to waste. (Twain) In an effort to prove if animal was indeed "lower" - the author let seven calves loose in the cage of an Anaconda. The hungry animal subsequently killed one calf - devouring it quickly. After satiating itself, the animal ignored the other six calves, harboring no desire to kill purely for the sake of killing. The author conducted this experiment, with several other Anaconda's, always with the same end result.

Mr. Twain brought up several points, with regards to organized religion, stating that "man is the only religious animal." He offers statements such as - "He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path...
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