The Mysterious Stranger Essay Research Paper In

The Mysterious Stranger Essay, Research Paper

In the Mark Twain story ?The Mysterious Stranger?, Satan teaches Theodor that

the Moral Sense that humans possess is more of an impairment than a gift. The first time

Satan degrades Man?s Moral Sense is when he use the term to explain the difference

between himself and Man (66). Theodor, who only had a ?dim idea of what the Moral

Sense was? is upset at the way Satan speaks of it. Satan shows Theodor several examples

of the cruel things Man does that no other animal on earth would do. Satan says that that

although man was given the Moral Sense to differentiate right from wrong he usually

makes the wrong decision(78). Satan also says that man is proud to have the Moral Sense

when it is actually a ?shameful possession?(78).

The examples of the poverty in the French Village(78-9), the man being tortured

in the jail(78),and persecution of the witches are all used by Satan to teach Theodor the

flaws of mankind and the Moral Sense. Theodor begins to understand why Satan looks

down upon our race as silly and trivial when he sees all of the cruel things that man does

to other men and animals. Satan defends even the animals of the earth by saying that

even they are not ?tainted with the disease called the Moral Sense?(80) and therefore

cannot do wrong because they don?t have a choice like man does. He questions the boys

as to why Hans Oppert?s loyal dog should not be allowed into heaven and asks if their

race ?can add anything to this dog?s stock of morals and magnanimities.?(80) Satan

thinks that the Moral Sense make humans a foolish race. Man?s cruelty cannot be blamed

on anyone but him because he knows right from wrong.

Along with the Moral Sense, Satan also compares humans to sheep, and says that

they are mostly followers and afraid to assert themselves because they want to stand well

in their neighbor?s eye. Satan emphasizes the witch hunt as a perfect example of man?s

shortcomings. He states that only a ?handful of pious lunatics? actually want to kill the

people accused of practicing witchcraft, but people tend to follow those few that ?make

the most noise.? Theodor realizes that he is guilty of following the minority after he

throws the stone at the woman accused of witchcraft and is confronted by Satan(109)

He didn?t want to throw the stone but was afraid of being accused of sympathizing with

the ?witch? and therefore be persecuted himself. Theodor also confesses to being a

follower when he thinks about, but does not tell Marget to be careful with her actions

when he knows people are becoming suspicious of her household.

The Moral Sense and the idea of Man?s tendency to follow the loud minority are

taught to Theodor to be the flaws of mankind. Theodor learns from Satan?s lessons when

he considers that he is guilty of some of the things Satan has presented to him as being

distinctly human.


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