Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Murray, Donald M.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Twain; Mark; 1835-1910


The Mark Twin with whom people are most familiar is the irrepressible humorist of the 1870’s and 1880's who became a bitter satirist and pessimist after the 1890’s. It was always difficult for me to reconcile the disparity between the men who so boundlessly created laughter in his early writings and who concluded by observing that men were victims of their illusions and life was a "grotesque end foolish dream." Perhaps however, the gulf between the two men and their works was not so wide as it appeared. In an attempt to bridge the gap, it was first necessary for me to explore the mind and milieu of the so-called humorist of the '80’s. My research disclosed evidences that pessimism was a part of the writer’s thinking prior to the 1880’s. It existed in his early western and eastern literary efforts which exposed the human venality of a materialistic-minded society. Furthermore, it was manifest in his acceptance of a deterministic philosophy and in his rejection of orthodox religious beliefs. And finally it was evidenced in his more personal records—-his notebook entries and letters, for therein were his admissions of despair and a desire for escape from life. It remained for me to relate the foregoing evidence of the author’s thinking to five books he wrote in the 1880's: A Tramp Abroad, The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. An examination of these travel books and works of fiction revealed, in this early period, not only the author's sense strong pessimistic convictions but also fetalistic tone and imagery which strengthened the statement of these convictions. I am now reconciled to the relationship between the acknowledged humorist of the '80's and the pessimist of the later '90's. Behind the carefully costumed humorist is the pessimist wo asserted that everything human is pathetic: "The secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow."


Includes bibliographical references (pages 80-82)


iv, 82 pages




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