Mark Twain in Hawaii
In order to assess the depiction of animals by Mark Twain during his visit to Hawaii, it is critical that we must understand the historical backdrop against which he visited the island. It is often cited that the historical background of Hawaii is often sad and full of turbulent history; however, its sadness has been overtaken by its breathtaking beauty which many of the visitors to the Island have reported with great vividness and imagery to depict the natural beauty of the place and its people.
Mark Twain spent four months in Hawaii during 1886, at the age of 31 when he was hardly known as a successful person. However, his narration of the Hawaii has proved as one of the landmarks in his success. He wrote 25 letters from the Sandwich Islands which are still considered as funny and fresh even after written a century ago. (DOWNES). One of the most important characteristics of these letters is a very vivid depiction of the ships, their Capitan, flies, mosquitoes and most importantly cats.
These letters present a very vivid picture of an island which despite its historical backdrop is vibrant as well as aesthetically beautiful.
It is also often argued that Mark Twain’s period of stay at the islands was also a period of transition for himself also as he was, at that time, an unknown journalist. However, his efforts and imaginary of defining various characteristics of the island made him a successful journalist and lecturer.
Mark Twain’s letter also provide us a great representation of different animals present on the Island and that representation seems to be logical in the backdrop of the geographical reality of the Island. His representation of animals such as cats and horses as well as scorpion which bit him. A closer analysis of his letters would suggest that the tone in the letters varied from first showing an aesthetic representation of animals in the Islands to almost negative when scorpion bit him.
As discussed above that the letters from Mark Twain are full of vivid depiction of various aesthetic aspects of Hawaii and he went on to show many important and beautiful characteristics of the islands. One of the most important features of his writing has been the representation of cat. He extensively written and mentioned cat various times in his letters.
However, in order to clearly assess the representation of animals in his writings, it is also critical to understand that he was travelling to a place which was largely uncivilized and full of disease and other elements which may not be considered good for health. For example, he mention about the rats which he often found due to the filth spreading across the streets of the island.
Apart from this, Mark Twain also travelled on horse, using it as an alternative means of transport in place of cars in order to examine the beauty of the island more closely however on the same hand he also seems to be discussing the impediments due to which he used horse instead of cars during his stay in the Island. (Olson)
On the whole, discussing the representation of animals by Mark Twain contains multiple meanings and perspectives.
On one hand, we can easily infer that he representation of animals in his writings is due to the fact that he may have been trying to portray a more aesthetic look of the island especially his depiction of cats suggest that he might have been thinking in that direction however, on the other hand, it can easily also be inferred that he represented the animals mostly because to show the current state of the affairs at the Islands. The relative filth and unhealthy living conditions in the area clearly demonstrate this fact also as he vividly narrated different accounts of the living conditions at the island.
Mark Twain visited the island of Hawaii in a bid to complete his assignment for a newspaper however what turned out was something more important which made him one of the successful journalist in US. During his visit to the Islands, he mentioned many important characteristics of the island including its animals.
The representation of animals by him can be considered as an attempt to reflect the beauty of the islands as well as showing his natural instinct for the animals.
1. DOWNES, LAWRENCE. “Mark Twain’s Hawaii .” 16 May 2006. The New York Times. 15 September 2008 <http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/travel/14twain.html>.
2. Olson, Bob. “Mark Twain’s Hawaii.” 2008. http://www.hawaiischoolreports.com. 16 September 2008 <http://www.hawaiischoolreports.com/history/marktwain.htm>.
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Mark Twain in Hawaii. (2016, Dec 31). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/mark-twain-in-hawaii/