Mark Twain, known at the time to be a humorous author, wrote a speech on ‘Advice to Youth.’ Twain gives several pieces of advice all with a twist of honesty attached. The way this speech was written suggest that it would have been delivered at a graduation ceremony. Perhaps Twain was asked to speak at a college graduation ceremony and was going to deliver this speech. It is the perfect speech to relate to youth.
Twain’s advice begins with “always obey your parents…” (Norton, 550) which is sound advice. The rule of obeying one’s parents comes right from the Ten Commandments. Obeying one’s parents is a rule that is as old as time, engraved in everyday teachings. Twain twists this idea and adds “… when they are present” (Norton, 550) saying to only obey your parents when they are around. What parents do not know, will not hurt them. It is the same idea of; if a tree falls when no one is around does it make a sound. If no one is around to physically hear the tree fall, is it considered a sound? This is the same reasoning with; if a person commits a crime but no one was hurt or even noticed that a crime had been committed is it still considered a crime. Twain is saying that if parents are not around it is ok to not obey. Twain also adds “humoring that superstition” (Norton, 550) the superstition is the idea that parents always knows best and humoring that idea would be beneficial. Parents believe that they are all knowing beings and children must obey. That being said, parents can do no wrong and it would be wise to humor that idea.
Twain writes “be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.”(Norton, 550) This advice contradicts the first advice of always obey your parents, but contradictions and rebellion seem to be an ongoing t…
…ild a life and reputation. In such a brief lesson so many lifelong principles can be derived.
Twain compresses so much knowledge and wisdom into a two page essay. Twain’s advice knows no bounds and is still useful today. Twains was a man beyond his time. ‘Advice to Youth’ written over a hundred years ago still carries a great message. It is witty, sarcastic, and over all good advice. Since this speech is still relevant today, shows how much Twain has mastered the skills he speaks of. Twain speaks from experience and a place of wisdom.
“Lark Symbolism.” Lark Symbolism. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2013.
“A Life Lived in a Rapidly Changing World: Samuel L. Clemens‚ 1835-1910.” Welcome to the Mark Twain House & Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.
Peterson, Linda. The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction. 13th ed. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. Print.