The Dark Side Of Mark Twain

1506 words - 6 pages

As Mark Twain entered the final stage of his life, his writings became more cynical of life, religion, and the human race. He became deeply depressed after facing financial ruin and the deaths of loved ones, particularly his beloved daughter Susy. Twain buried himself in his work and found comfort only in his writings. At this time he began experimenting with such manuscripts as "The Great Dark". Although unfinished, "The Great Dark" marks an important time in Twain's life, a time of change. To better know the man that is Mark Twain it is crucial to give attention to The Great Dark. Through this writing it is evident that Twain suffered much pain due to his daughter's death. This great loss caused him to question life. Everything that he once accepted as reality became distorted after Susy's death and his world no longer made sense. Mark Twain was changed forever and The Great Dark is a window into the mind of Twain during this tragic time of his life.Susy died in 1896 from spinal meningitis (Ward, Duncan, and Burns 177). As he had a tendency to do, Twain blamed himself for his daughter's death. Due to financial disaster, Twain had been away lecturing on tour (176). When he received word Susy had fallen ill he was unaware of the seriousness of her condition. Soon after, Susy died and Twain was too far from home to get back in time to attend the funeral (177). Twain blamed himself for not being there for his daughter. "The strain of the bankruptcy and the tour that had pulled the family apart had been his doing, and he was sure that, together, they had killed his beloved daughter" (177). He fell into a great depression and surrounded himself in his work. As Twain's daughter Clara recalls, "Father's passionate nature expressed itself in thunderous outbursts of bitterness shading into rugged grief. He walked the floor with quick steps and there was no drawl in his speech now. . . . It was [then] that Father created the habit of vituperating the human race" (185). The experience of Susy's death had dampened Twain's faith in all things. Although Twain tried to disguise his grief, the tragedies Mr. Edwards faces in the Great Dark resemble tragedies of his own.The Great Dark begins with the Edwards family's fascination over a new toy, the telescope. Upon magnification of a drop of water they are shocked and delighted to find that there are actually microscopic living organisms in the water. After the incredible discovery, Mr. Edwards drifts off to sleep and is visited by the Superintendent of Dreams. In his dream Mr. Edwards makes arrangements with the Superintendent of Dreams for him and his family to take a voyage across the drop of water to study it and its inhabitants. Once on the ship Mr. Edwards begins to question reality, uncertain of which is the dream, his life before his voyage or his life on the ship. The dream soon turns into a nightmare and ends with his family burning to death under the rays of the great "white glare", otherwise known as...

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