Table of Contents
2. The Gilded Age
3. Mark Twain's political outlook during the Gilded Age
3.1 Mark Twain's position in the American social class
3.2 Mark Twain's critic on politics and society in his literary writings
3.3 Mark Twain's actions in politics
5. Works Cited
Mark Twain once said: “What is the chief end of man? - to get rich. In what way? - dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must. Who is God, the one only and true? Money is God. Gold and greenbacks and stock – father, son and the ghost of same – three persons in one; these are the true and only God, mighty and supreme; and William Tweed is his prophet”1 Mark Twain is a man of honesty and pride who cares about the others and tries to battle corruption and greed and doesn't fear the rich and criticizes and attacks them in every possible way. This essay is going to be about Mark Twain and his political outlook in the time of the Gilded Age connected with his standpoint in society.
How does he proceed in his battle against corruption, greed and dishonesty? Is he an active or passive man in connection with political matters? Is he a Republican or a Democrat or neither one of both? Is Mark Twain a man of the middle class or the upper class? Who are his enemies and victims? How does he present himself in society? All these questions are going to be answered in this essay.
To give a short overview and certain kind of basic knowledge of the time we are talking about and to understand Mark Twain's mindset and standpoint, this essay includes a short summary of the Gilded Age with its problems and typical characteristics. After that, we move on to the basic questions of the essay. We try to find out, if Mark Twain is a man of middle or upper class and how he deals with the topics he feels disgust against. We take a look into his political action, the way he handles topics like corruption and dishonesty in his literary writings and his battle against Tammany Hall. At the end of this essay we conclude the topics and try to sum up how far or whether the questions are answered.
As support of the work, this essay uses diverse secondary literature. Besides a few pages from the internet, literature from authors like Shelly Fisher Fishkin, Stuart Huthinson , Bryant Morey French, Robert D. Putnam and Pascal Covici Jr. is used to help finding an answer to the previously asked questions.
2. The Gilded Age
The Gilded Age is a period of time in the late 19th century in the United States of America. Precisely, the years from 1870 to 19002. The Gilded Age got his name from Mark Twain.3 In that time America develops from a rural and traditional society to a modern, industrialized and urban nation.4 The term and time is often affiliated with greed, guile, corruption and capitalism.5 But this period is also a time in which the number of population and urbanization rises up rapidly. In these 30 years the population grows from 40 million to 76 million and the number of cities with over
50.000 in population, that are added due to the large and fast growth of the large cities, tripled from 25 to 78.6
1 Stuart Hutchinson. Mark Twain – Critical Assessments Volume III Critical Essays. Mountfield, Helm Information, 1993. p. 144
2 Robert D. Putnam. Bowling Alone. The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York, Simon & Schuster, 2000. p. 368
3 Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2013). Digital History (3.04.2013) http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=9smtID=1
4 Putnam p. 368
5 cf. Mintz S.