Complete analysis of How to Tell a Story.

In this essay, Mark Twain shows how people desire to be at the center of attention by describing the pains people go to when telling the a story.  He states that  because people need to be the center of attention they will stretch the truth to get a better reaction from their audience.  Twain goes through several scenarios of how people tell their stories, showing how they manipulate every detail to make it  better and how they will repeat the punch line numerous times, to the point where it’s not funny anymore.  His intention is for the people that make themselves look like idiots by telling these ridiculous stories to read this essay and finally realize how stupid they look.  The tone of this piece is humorous and satirical in the way it pokes fun at the storytellers and their hunger to be the center of everyone’s attention.  Twain addresses the questions “what motivates humans to behave the way they do, is truth absolute or relative, and does a person act alone or as an integral member of society?”

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  • Frost on Apr 12, 2010

    You are absolutely out of line with this story….

  • Brian Wright on Aug 11, 2011

    This is a shoddy analysis of the work. In general, Twain is commenting on the different ways humor is used in telling a story. His entire point is to show the potential for comedy in absurdity (which he claims is a wholly American enterprise). As he states:

    “To string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they are absurdities, is the basis of the American art…”

    His point is not about some people’s “need to be the center of attention” nor is it about relative truth. Instead, Twain is simply expounding on the benefits of subtlety and superfluousness in humor…

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