Nature V. Nurture In Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson And Those Extraordinary Twins

2223 words - 9 pages

Nature v. Nurture in Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins

What makes a person who they are is a difficult dilemma. Mark Twain's novel, "Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins" is a critical analysis of how nature and nurture can cultivate emotions and free will, which in turn affects the life of individuals. "Twain's faltering sense of direction began about slavery, moral decay, and deceptive realities (Kaplan 314). The debate of `nature versus nurture' has been one of the most intriguing scientific and cultural issues for most of the twentieth century, in determining the behavioral aspects of human beings. The changes in environment, society, education, political influences, family values and morals and other external influences, combined with physical genes determines how mankind will evolve into adulthood. Both nature and nurture, in combination with emotions and free will, control the behavior of human beings and determines who we are.

Anthropologists, who study humans and their origins, generally accept that the human species can be categorized into races based on physical and genetic makeup. For example, many slaves had physical differences from their counterpart white race, such as dark skin and wiry hair. Throughout history, the study of Sociology has had a significant impacted the `nature versus nurture' debate. Social Darwinism based its theory on genetic determinism and natural selection, advocating a capitalist economy, promoting racism and the inherent inequality of such as society. Karl Marx, also an advocate for capitalism and slavery, applied the Marxist philosophy to the practice of science, emphasizing environmental influences determined behavior. Max Weber is known his `social action' approach to the study of human societies and cultures. He coined the phrase "Survival of the Fittest." Initially it was suggested that mankind could be divided into two different racial groups: Caucasian and Negro. Caucasians in the southern states became the superior race and the Negroes became the inferior race, thus the labels of Master and slave evolved. Virtually all Anthropologists, Scientists, Sociologist, Psychologists, and scientists agree that there is no credible evidence that supports that one race is culturally or psychologically different from any other, or that one race is superior to another. Yet Twain, In Pudd'nhead Wilson creates the character Roxy as both races, one physically and one mentally. Though her features make her appear to white, "Her complexion was very fair, with rosy glow of vigorous health in her cheeks, her face was full of character and expression, her eyes were brown and liquid, and she had a heavy suit of fine soft hair which was also brown"(Twain 9). "To all intents and purposes Roxy was as white as anybody, but the one sixteenth of her which was black outvoted the other fifteen parts and made her a Negro" (Brand 308).

Environment can influence some personality...

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