Psychology Issues in Mark Twain’s “The Lowest Animal” Essay

This paper is based on Mark Twain’s famous essay called “The Lowest Animal”. The well known American writer and author of great novels about the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn has demonstrated a new side of himself in this essay. Twain is known for his sharp philosophical mind and clever ironical humor. His works are loved and admired by people all over the world; both children and adults read his books and enjoy them. “The Lowest Animal” Is different from other works of Mark Twain.


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It appeared after the death of the author in 1910 to show Mark Twain’s readers that the writer had a darker side (Nordquist, par. 1). The essay was written as a reaction to a conflict between Muslims and Christians in Crete. Twain speaks harshly about human behavioral patterns, psychology and morals. He states that moral sense of humans and understanding of what is right and what is wrong actually enables humans to do the worst things.

I agree that the main focus of all religions was to create the rules of moral behavior for humans and prevent us from making bad choices, but it has obviously worked in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, the only power able to stop humans from doing bad things is their own mind. Human mind is considered much more powerful than minds of all other animals, yet this mind is what encourages us to do the worst things. Human mind is the source of the best decisions and achievements as well as the most horrifying disasters.

Knowing what is wrong is not enough to stay away from making mistakes. I am talking not only about accidents; I mean actual bad choices like lying, cheating, hurting, taking revenge, punishing and offending. Why do so many people pleasure themselves in taking revenge? Every single one of us is aware that doing this wrong and bad and it is going to hurt someone, yet we still do it. We are being self-centered, we are allowing ourselves to judge and decide what is fair and what is not.

Twain notices that humans are able to harbor insults and then wait for the best chance to take revenge (2). We do unnecessary things we could simply avoid doing just because it is pleasant for us to see someone else suffer. This is just one of many peculiarities of human mind.

Avoiding the temptations and leading a proper forgiving and peaceful lifestyle is considered extremely difficult, this is why only few people choose to walk this path. We call them monks. They live in groups or alone far away from the rest of the society, restricted by many laws and rules; they avoid penetrating the society in order not to obtain the wrong morals by mistake. This example is perfect to demonstrate that even the most religious people are unable to control their human minds fully and avoid letting their emotions take over.

In his essay Mark Twain compares human behavior and way of think to the behavior of animals that are widely considered a more primitive form of life. However, as Twain discovers, in most cases animals make right choices simply because their minds are not bothered by the huge range of confusions and temptations humans are able to feel. In the animals world everything is simple, there are no mid tones.


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When there is a fight – there is no unnecessary cruelty, animals kill to eat or because they protect themselves. Humans kill for multiple reasons – for power, for fame, for authority, for revenge, and of course, for pleasure.

Human world is complicated and multi-layered. As soon as someone invented a form of cheating – others have to adjust and avoid becoming the victims of the cheater, they come up with a more skillful way to cheat. A faulty development of one mind leads to the faulty development of the surrounding minds in response. This has been going on for centuries.

Human minds are brilliant. Actually human brain is the only organ that studies, changes and analyzes itself (Sirota, par. 2). The development of scheming minds has probably become the main force of human mind evolution. We had to become flexible and inventive in order to survive not only in the nature, but in our own society. The human mind games were turning more and more complicated and cruel, civilization appeared thousands of years ago, but civilized ways of co-existence are still hard to maintain.

This paper was written in order to make humans think about the message Mark Twain included in his essay. Our brilliant flexible minds are strong enough to raise above all the lower desires and temptations; they are skilled enough to judge between true values and faulty values. If we are so embarrassed to be compared to the lowest animals why do we still behave in the same way? A calm tone of this paper work is encouraging a thought process of a reader. It is aimed at bringing awareness of our own strengths and weaknesses.

Works Cited

Nordquist, R. The Lowest Animal, by Mark Twain: the cat is innocent, man is not. 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

Sirota, D. How Can the Brain Understand Itself? 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

Twain, M. The Lowest Animal. n. d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.


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