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...

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

Morality and Injustice Shown in Mark Twain's Characters

1221 words - 5 pages Mark Twain's characters personify the ideas and themes behind his stories. Regarded as one of America's first great writers, his characters have sparked controversy and discussion of morality and injustice of 19th Century society. Born in Florida, Missouri, Twain's family moved to the Hannibal, a small town along the Mississippi where he became associated with tall tales and slavery. His young life would also be stricken with the death of his

Mark Twain's Life and Accomplishments Essay

1020 words - 5 pages The person that I will be writing about will be Mark twain, known as an author. He wrote humorist books for example: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark twain is also known for the pen brand he has. Twain was born in Florida Missouri November 30, 1835, later died April 21 1910. Mark twain was 6 of 7 children. In 1847, when Twain was 11, his father died of pneumonia. The next year, he became a

Nature and Nurture in Language Acquisition

2799 words - 11 pages (Bates, 2003). This remarkable ability to acquire language is the basis for a central debate: how much of our ability to acquire, produce and understand language is innate (genetically programmed) and how much is acquired by learning? This essay will focus on the debate between nature and nurture and how research in the area of language produced evidence for both sides of the argument. The claim for an innate ability for language acquisition

Nature and Nurture, not Nature vs. Nurture

1974 words - 8 pages which both nature and nurture play roles, it would not be farfetched to suggest that both heredity and environment have influence in the development of human personality traits. There are those that would mistakenly argue that it is a matter of heredity which determines morality. Richard Rorty, philosopher and author of “Born to be Good,” introduces his audience to a Harvard scientist, Marc Hauser. Hauser, an evolutionary biologist and professor

Nature and Nurture

1005 words - 4 pages Nature and nurture is a concept that was coined in the modern sense by Francis Galton, an English Victorian polymath (a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning). He spurred the debate with his book English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture (1874), which is regarded as “possibly the most original of all the great Victorians” (Trotter 113). The concept of nature and nurture refers to a binary view of how identical twins develop. One

Nature And Nurture Debabe

2146 words - 9 pages Richard Mulcaster, four centuries ago, wrote the words, "Nature makes the boy toward, nurture sees him forward" (qtd. in Harris 4). And so the great war began. But it wasn't all Mulcaster's fault. Shakespeare was said to have juxtaposed those words in his play The Tempest: "A devil, a born devil, on whose nature / Nurture can never stick". Three hundred years later, Charles Darwin's cousin Francis Galton coined the usage of the two together

Nature and Nurture

809 words - 4 pages conditioning (Watson & Watson, 1921). Regardless of their genes, the associations of the right stimuli can result in the development of a new behaviour in any individual. Classical conditioning emphasises the importance of learning from the environment and supports nurture over nature. However, limiting the source of learning to only environment is a reductionist explanation of behaviour. When complex behaviours are explained as a sum of smaller

Mark Twain's Personality Revealed in His Writing

2200 words - 9 pages Mark Twain's Personality Revealed in His Writing Literary artists refuse to be categorized, defined, and completely fathomed by any standardized paradigm, but a writer's work exhibits his or her personality traits. Though authors are incapable of being defined by mere personality traits, literary accomplishments, and literary criticisms, an author's personality can be used to sketch a limited definition of his or her literature. Mark

Nature and Nurture in Personality and Behaviour Development

2278 words - 9 pages IntroductionSince the first attempt to study nature and nurture in the development of personality and behavioural traits over a century ago, the question that has divided developmental psychologist is whether nature or nurture has the greater bearing (Plomin, 2002). Those with the stance of genes having the predominant influence on development are the naturists, and those opposing them, the nurturists, argue that the surrounding environment

Nature and Nurture in Frankenstein and Rappaccini's Daughter

2549 words - 10 pages Nature and Nurture in Frankenstein and Rappaccini's Daughter             One of the most popular disputes in the history of philosophy regards whether nurture of a human being plays a more important role in the formation of its character than the genetic heritage that it bears. As a natural result, the dispute echoes in many literary works, not always directly, but sometimes taking the form of a pretext or a motif in a larger context

The Meaning of Nature and Nurture in Psychology

1863 words - 7 pages The Meaning of Nature and Nurture in Psychology The nature nurture dichotomy is a theme always present in many areas of psychology. But is it right to talk about it as a dichotomy? , Certainly not. To say so would be like stating that they never act

Similar Essays

Nature V. Nurture Essay

1254 words - 6 pages abilities in an attempt to mask those that are lacking. It is part of a common desire to feel wanted and equivalent to others. Our human nature impacts the personality traits that deal with quick responses and our innate characteristics. Nurture has been heavily influenced by nature, however it differs because the traits it influences have evolved from nature. Where it most evolves with nature is in competition due to culture. According to Caccioppo and

Misleading Interpretation Of Southern Society In Mark Twain's Novel, Pudd’nhead Wilson

547 words - 2 pages Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson has always been considered a great American novel. However, upon its publication, Martha McCulloch Williams wrote a letter describing the inaccuracy of the book. She believed that Twain falsely depicted the Southern people throughout the story and used inaccurate facts about their society. Williams’ main piece of evidence is her own observations. She was a wealthy white woman, whose family owned a plantation

Huck's Conflicted Nature In Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

1471 words - 6 pages Huck's Conflicted Nature in Mark Twain’s The Adventures Of Huck Finn Continuing what he had started in the first eleven chapters, Twain further develops Huck Finn's character through a series of events where Huck's decisions indicate his moral struggle. Adventures shows the dynamic movement of Huck's internal difficulty, illustrating his conflicted nature. As juxtaposition to the fantasy of Tom Sawyer's gang, Huck encounters real

Law And Slave Identity In Dred And Pudd'nhead Wilson

3331 words - 13 pages Thomas a Becket (Twain 54). We have spent much time discussing the identity of the Negro according to the closing statements of Wilson in the trial of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson. We have seen Wilson condemn Tom for being a slave rather than for committing a murder because a slave is considered property and cannot be convicted of a crime. Harriet Beecher Stowe uses a more developed legal argument to assess the identity of the slave. The trial
4 December | épisode 19 | Sichun Ma