Humor In The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County

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In “The celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, Mark Twain uses elements of humor like satire, and dark humor to create laughter from sorrow and to show the corrupt qualities of human and society’s nature such as lying, gambling, and stupidity.

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Mark Twain used satire to chalenge the manipulative and stupid human nature. Satire can be defined as the use of humor to expose and criticize people. In “Comedy” Twain’s satire’s purpose is described as, “While his satire could be merciless in its mockery of pretense and pomposity, it was always intended to reveal the follies of human nature. Twain’s true intentions of his humor was to teach and persuade. Twain wanted to expose the foolish human nature. Similar to what “Comedy” is stating, Twain follows the definition of satire almost to a point in his “The celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. One point Twain strived to make was to crtiqe the stupidity of human nature. This can be seen when Twain describes a character stating, “He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal’klated to edercate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump”. At first read this idea comes across as humorous because humans can not educate a frog. However, as it is looked at deeper Twain is actualy trying to use of satire to criticise humans stupidity. Twain criticises the idea of humans to believe that they can do anything such as educating a frog. Twain is well aware that this way of thinking is far from true which is why he pokes fun at it using satire. Similar to “Comedy’s” ideas, Twain’s satire is used to challenge the stupidity of humans or in better words “the follies”.

Because of Twain’s use of satire, Twain’s main purpose of humor is to critique society and people. Greene describes this perfectly when he states, “Twain increasingly became concerned with what he saw as the decline of American civilization. He began to question the benefits of technology, while poking fun at everything from newly rich business tycoons to corrupt people”. Twain has many beliefs on different aspects of society and people. Twain subtly introduce these ideas in his works through satirical humor. Twain uses satire to deliver hidden critiques to his readers. These critiques can be seen in “The celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. Twain describes a dog in his story as, “Andrew Jackson — which was the name of the pup — Andrew Jackson would never let on but what he was satisfied”. Twain names this dog who wins all of his dogfights Andrew Jackson to express his disagreeance with people who are against Jackson. Jackson believed in the frontier life and wanted to help the common man. Mark Twain also believed in this which is why he describes the the dog as winning and a good dog. Twain’s true motive of using this name play is to critique the people who disagree with Jackson’s claims and wants.

By using humor and satire Twain was able to chalenge different views and define a clear right and wrong in his works. Melton also agrees with this when he states, “To be clear: I love Twains satire. It makes me laugh (and cringe); it challenges me: It moves me”. Because elements of Twain’s humor such as satire are meant to pursuade, Twains humorous works give the reader a new idea. Twains humor introduces new ideas in a playful but productive way. This is expressed in “The celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. Twain describes Jim Smiley when he states, “If there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet which one would fly first”. 

16 August 2021

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