Emporia ESIRC

Mark Twain, detective story writer.

ESIRC/Manakin Repository

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.author Andrews, Donna Mary.
dc.date.accessioned 2012-12-05T15:11:17Z
dc.date.available 2012-12-05T15:11:17Z
dc.date.created 1981 en_US
dc.date.issued 2012-12-05
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/2179
dc.description 103,8,5 leaves en_US
dc.description.abstract In all of his writing, Mark Twain uses various techniques and genres to expose social corruption. One of the genres he uses is the detective story. Twain burlesques the classical detective character and the classical detective story elements to show that detectives are not really heroes; they are members of a corrupt society who create chaos instead of order. Twain believed that the ideal detective who symbolized truth, solved crimes, and established justice, was good. But through his observations and experiences Twain came to believe that this ideal character did not exist. Instead, he saw corrupt, inept detectives, like Allan Pinkerton and his agency men whose attempts to solve crimes were mere dramatic escapades. Twain blatantly ridicules Pinkerton-type detectives in his burlesques, "Cap'n Simon Wheeler, Amateur Detective. A Light Tragedy," Simon Wheeler, Detective, and "The Stolen White Elephant." Though these burlesques seem to be exaggerated, they are based on fact. According to Twain, the tragedy about such detectives is that they are heroes in the public eye, and corrupt heroes represent a corrupt society. One of the reasons why Twain believed the society to be corrupt was because of the abuse of science in the nineteenth century. Though Twain initially admired scientific reason and common sense, he saw men becoming more like machines than human beings. In his novel, Pudd'nhead Wilson, Twain shows how inept scientific detectives are at salvaging humanity. Pudd'nhead Wilson uses the scientific method of fingerprinting to uncover a murder, but his victory does not touch the underlyinq corruption of the town. Twain thought that the ideal detective could only exist in fiction. In Tom Sawyer, Detective Twain creates a boy detective hero in Tom Sawyer whose success depends mainly on coincidence and luck. This undermines the principle on which detective stories arc based: that the crime must be solved by the analytical deductive reasoning powers of the detective. In his burlesque of the fictional Sherlock Holmes in "A Double Barreled Detective Story," Twain shows the unreality of detective fiction amidst society's moral corruption. Throughout these works Twain shows that the perfect four part form of the detective story is as unreal as the detective character. Conventionally, all detective stories begin with a crime, then the detective or Watson-figure presents the evidence, then the detective solves the crime, and finally the detective gives a conclusion or synopsis of his analytical reasoning. Twain generally follows the first three parts but in the process the works often become confused and ridiculous. In all of his detective stories, Twain gives the conclusion rather than having his fictional detective character do so. In the conclusions Twain exposes a social system so corrupt that more than detectives are needed to uncover the problems and restore justice and order to the society. By presenting the problems, Twain acts as a social reformer who makes the public aware of the necessity of change. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject Twain, Mark, 1835-1910-Characters. en_US
dc.subject Detectives in literature. en_US
dc.title Mark Twain, detective story writer. en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.college las en_US
dc.advisor James Hoy en_US
dc.department english, modern languages and literatures en_US

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record