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Mark Twain’s “A Presidential Candidate”

Use what you have learned in this unit to analyze two satires. Read Mark Twain’s “A Presidential Candidate” and locate another modern satirical artifact on your own. Your artifact can be an essay, article, or letter; it is up to you to ensure the piece you have selected is, in fact, satirical.
You may wish to print Twain’s satire and the satire you selected so that you can annotate them as you read. Then, for each artifact, respond to the following questions using complete sentences:

  1. What is the essential cultural observation or situation being satirized? What clues lead you to this conclusion?
  2. What rhetorical strategies does the writer use to achieve the satirical effect? List them, and explain how each is used.
  3. What is the social change for which the writer might be calling? Is this change achievable? Does the writer, through satire, imply any suggestions?
    “A Presidential Candidate”
    Mark Twain, 1879

Sample Solution

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian psychiatrist who created the psychoanalytical school of philosophy. He was born in 1856 in Moravia, Czech Republic, and he went to college at the University of Vienna where he studied neurology. After going to Paris to study with the renowned neurologist Jean Martin Charcot, Freud decided to pursue a career in psychopathology. He went on to develop the theory of psychoanalysis in which he became famous for his theories of the unconscious mind, defense mechanism of repression, and the role of dreams. He studied the nature of dreams through his patients dreams and his own. Moreover, he said that man has both conscious desires, and unconscious desires that co-exist within our minds. He concluded that dreams are the result of our unconscious thought breaking through while we are asleep. In his writing, The Interpretation of Dreams, he discusses the origin, nature, and function of dreams through his theory of the unconscious mind. A major issue Freud sought to answer was, where dreams originated. He said that historically man had simply believed dreams to be a manifestation of a higher power, either demonic or divine. However, he rejected this notion, claiming that dreams come from individual's own self. He said that dreams normally are influenced by an event occurring within the last twenty-four hours, or as he called it, the "dream day." This Freudian notion of dreams coming from our self soon became widely recognized, "To-day only a small minority of educated people doubt that dreams are a product of the dreamer's own mind." (143) To support this theory he said that the unconscious causes our dreams. He claimed that the mind has three structures: the ego which is the part of our mind that deals with the world, the id which is where the energy of the mind comes and is always striving to achieve its desires, and the superego which is the source of conscious and serves as a buffer from the relentless drives of the id. When we sleep the superego weakens and allows more of the id to reach the ego. Freud points to this as the result of dreams. The ego becomes flooded with desires from the id and then produces dreams. Therefore, he states that dreams originate in a part of our mind, which is kept in check, while awake, by the superego. In addition to researching the origin of dreams, Freud also focused on the nature of dreams. He classified two characteristics of dreams, the manifest content and the latent content. The manifest content in a dream is the part that can be clearly recalled. While the part where the dream actually originates and is difficult to understand or remember is the latent content. The overall content of a dream is usually derived from repressed memories or thoughts. He says that through sleep, our deep unconscious mind is able to reach the ego, allowing repressed thought to influence our dr
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