Animal Bajo

Páginas: 12 (2981 palabras) Publicado: 3 de diciembre de 2012
The Lowest Animal
by Mark Twain
The works of Mark Twain (1835–1910) are marked by a relaxed, humorous manner of observation. In the following essay, Twain satirizes human nature by describing some experiments he supposedly conducted at the London Zoological Gardens. Twain takes Charles Darwin’s theory that humans evolved from earlier ancestors, or “lower animals,” and turns itupside down.

Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim.
I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the “lower animals” (so-called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me. For it obliges me to renounce1 my allegiance to the Darwinian
Copyright © by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. All rights reserved.



Descent is a noun, related to the verb descend, which means “come down.” Descent is the opposite of ascent, which means “upward movement; rise.” Explain what you think Twain means by “the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals.”

theory of the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals, since it now seems plain to me that that theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one, this newand truer one to be named the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals. A In proceeding toward this unpleasant conclusion, I have

not guessed or speculated or conjectured, but have used what is commonly called the scientific method.2 That is to say, I have subjected every postulate3 that presented itself to the crucial test of actual experiment and have adopted it or rejected it according tothe result. Thus, I verified and established each step of my
1. 2. 3. renounce: give up; reject. scientific method: research method in which a theory is tested by careful, documented experiments. postulate (PAHS CHUH LIHT): assumption.

“The Lowest Animal” from Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain, edited by Bernard DeVoto. Copyright 1938, 1944, 1946, © 1959, 1962 by The Mark Twain Company.Copyright 1942 by The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Reproduced by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Lowest Animal




Selection Vocabulary
Verified (line 14) is the past tense form of the word verify. To verify something means to prove it. How could you verify the meaning of a word?

Library of Congress



Satire often beginsby sounding straightforward and serious. The satirical message begins to come through as the information gets less believable. What elements of Twain’s opening paragraphs make it seem like a serious study?

course in its turn before advancing to the next. A These experiments were made in the London Zoological Gardens and covered many months of painstaking and fatiguing work. B Beforeparticularizing any of the experiments, I wish to state one or two things which seem to more properly belong in

this place than further along. This in the interest of clearness. The massed experiments established to my satisfaction certain 1. That the human race is of one distinct species. It exhibits slight variations—in color, stature, mental caliber, and so on— due to climate, environment, and soforth; but it is a species by itself and not to be confounded with any other. 2. That the quadrupeds4 are a distinct family, also. This family exhibits variations—in color, size, food preferences, and so on; but it is a family by itself.
Copyright © by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. All rights reserved.

generalizations, to wit:




3. That the other families—the birds,the fishes, the insects, the reptiles, etc.—are more or less distinct, also. They are in the procession. They are links in the chain which stretches down from the higher animals to man at the bottom. C Some of my experiments were quite curious. In the course of my reading, I had come across a case where, many years ago,
4. quadrupeds: four-footed animals.

Circle the stressed syllable in each...
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