Mark Twain and Bret Harte's Use of Satire

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Marcus Parham Professor Hall ENGL 2132 – American Lit 04 November 2012 Satire in Roughing It and “The Luck of Roaring Camp” Mark Twain and Bret Harte are famously known as great writers, but the thing that brought them such fame was their use of humor and satire. In this paper I will discuss and analyze Twain’s use of satire in Roughing It as well as Harte’s use of it in “The Luck of Roaring Camp”. Roughing It is a novel written by Mark Twain in which he uses his own experiences of a stagecoach journey across the American West to comment on the local characters and satirize life on the frontier. The first quarter of this novel really is great with descripting of his stagecoach trip to Nevada is fantastic travel writing, laced with irony and sly humor. Twain makes good use of his satirical writing style in this novel, but it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. There's just one 'humorous' episode concerning a bull that interjects during this part of the book and it seems disconcertingly false -- kind of corny and cartoonish in a not terribly clever way. Perhaps the sort of thing he could bring life to in his famous lectures with his drawl and deadpan, but I remembering thinking...'uh oh', and boy was I right. The book continues to have some marvelous episodes as Twain continues his western adventure, but they are stretched out with a prodigious quantity of flimsy material. Comic set pieces with caricature-like characters get stale before they've begun, and he spins them out as if he was being paid by the word. A certain kind of broad, formulaic humor obtains, probably what he needed to write for newspapers at the time, but it seems out of place amidst his more mature writing. Whereas the parts where he is achingly funny tend to have a certain realness about them - Clemens is making observations about things trivial and profound that he

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