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Emily Kim

Mrs Osman

English 3P/ Period 2

March 13, 2019

What is Twain’s overall purpose in writing “The Lowest Animal”? How effective is his use of

satire in achieving that purpose?

The Lowest Animal LRA

In Mark Twain’s essay, “The Lowest Animal” he shows his purpose in writing the text is

to express his feelings towards humans. Twain claims that humans nature goes lower that the

average animals. In the text Twain points out that humans have a menacing humor towards their

enemies while animals are more merciful towards their prey. As stated, “of all the animals, man

is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it”

(Twain 183). This shows that humans favor violence and Twain goes further to explain that

animals are innocent and can live in peace, and do things out of their natural behavior, but people

can not, as humans have a better sense of morality and are aware that they are causing pain

amongst others. In the text, he states, “Simple things which the other animals easily learn he is

incapable of learning


an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friend” (Twain 185). He

compares by using animals to show how human nature often tend to hold grudges and always

wage war against their own kind, they favor violence and won't come to settle a dispute amongst

themselves. Animals on the other hand, learn to get along amongst themselves despite others

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seeing them as natural enemies. Twain’s use of satire was effective by embedding examples of

institution to show how low humans can be. An institution that shows use of satire was when he

points out the slavery amongst the human race, “the higher animals are the only ones who

exclusively do their own work and provide their own living” (Twain 184). He argues that

humans are the lazy ones out of all the animals, as they are dependent on others to their work for

them. This also shows how humans are selfish and only care about their own well being by

making others suffer for them instead. The overall purpose of Twain writing this essay is to tell

his audience that humans are the lowest animals in the hierarchy of animals. Humans have a

better sense of morality than other animals who do it out of natural behaviors, which leaves

humans to have no excuses for their actions.

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Work Cited

Twain, Mark. “The Lowest Animal.” California Collections, Grade 11, edited by Kylene Beers et

al, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, p. 177-186.