What is Civilization?

Mark Twain’s “Papers of the Adam Family” analyzes the effects of civilization. Most of what Twain says in the text can still be applied to the real world today. This fact is true but sad. Twain wrote this roughly one hundred fifty years ago and the intent of his works was so people could learn from their wrongdoings and then become better once they recognized these wrongdoings. Twain’s purpose was to send the message so people could change in the future and become better, however, the country became more hungry for money after it  brought achievements financially and commercially. Twain put it, “wonderful in its extraordinary financial and commercial achievements; wonderful in its hunger for money (Mark Twain).” This is still true today because money still has a dominate effect on people. If we were to gain one million dollars a day, it would only cause our nation’s stomach to growl louder for more.

Twain also describes the effect of our country’s legislatures “in closing the public service against brains and character; in electing purchasable legislatures (Mark Twain).” He emphasizes the moral effect on civilization. Twain states that legislatures do not get elected for their moral right but rather because they have the money in order to win. Just as in today’s society, most politicians figure out a way to get reelected and respected by the majority, supporting and opposing laws they think others will agree with. However, that does not mean the laws are necessarily right or wrong just because a majority believes them to be. Also, political positions are not cheap so either the wealthy or those supported by the wealthy care most about their political stance of their wealth supporters. Political parties, as well, play an influence in elections because some people will only choose the runner in their party instead of choosing someone they think will be good for the nation’s growth.

In his novel, Huckleberry Finn, Twain also emphasizes the role of society on the two main characters. Twain shows all the controversies a civilization has. Especially in Huckleberry Finn, their are many controversies in civilization. The fact that the nation is a democracy, and they deprive human beings of their human rights. Civilization does not stick to one plan it seems to skip around deciding where to fall next. At the same time it does not change much because we still have similar issues in today’s life that existed almost two hundred years ago. The fact that the Jim and Huck are supposedly uncivilized because they were not brought up in the “correct” high ranked society is supposed to show they are less educated from other people like Tom who were brought up correctly. However, Jim and Huck seem to be two of the few characters that have some sense in their head. Twain shows this by exaggerating the idiotic Southerners in this novel.


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