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Is He Living Or Is He Dead?

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, an ordinary high-spirited man who joined the literary world as the great Mark Twain, has accomplished so much through his famous classics The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. For this, the American welcomed him as the American Literature’s mentor. He had done piles of other adventures, essays, autobiographies, and short stories, one of which is Is He Living Or Is He Dead. The premiere satirist Mark Twain delivers a divine comedy in honor of the French painter Jean Francois Millet whose stardom was not until death stole his life in 1875.

Growing up in a farm in Normandy, Millet’s ‘Realism’ masterpieces had themes of mostly rural environments and peasants. His paintings did not easily attract the public due to an assumed relation to socialism and political tendencies. Around 1858, his acclaimed work “Angelus” was completed and eventually put his name in the roll of well-known artists during that time. Millet is the highlight of Mark Twain’s touchingly comic tale about a group of artists struggling for recognition in the Arts community.

But not only does Twain tackle the humor that could have been in the life of the great artist, he also explores the common reality that artists rise to fame upon death, only too bad that they do not get to taste the fruits of their labor afterwards. Twain, on this matter, can be seen nodding his head in light ridicule, not to the artists but to the society’s odd mentality. This picture could have Twain’s inspiration for the story and Millet could have been one of Twain’s favorite painters as they both share the same interests and experiences in relation to poverty, peasants, and simplicity of life.

There is discrimination not only in France but in Many British and American cities as well. Twain shares how the gap between the poor and the rich affects the Arts industry in France. This rich-poor people angle has been the author’s traditional plot. Body The story Is He Living Or Is He Dead is a short fiction that features Millet, along with his two allies, contemplating on making a name in the art trade and earning for a living. Because there seems to be no easy and fast way to make both things happen at the same time when they need it the most, they came up with the best resort: “One of us must die!

” Great artists have contributed so much in enriching the Arts all over the world and their masterpieces nowadays are undeniably valuable compared to the very cheap appraisal in the market during their time when they were still alive. Most of them lived very simply, even poorly, during the 18th century in France. There were rare artists who reach fame and fortune in their prime. Usually, the works of great artists are most recognized and appreciated after they passed away.

Let us take Van Gogh for example who struggled for public approval and understanding of his Art until his last days in Arles. Although the life of well-known painters are often seen as serious and tragic, Is He Living Or Is He Dead gives us a creatively entertaining side of the story rather than dwells on the depression that seemed an epidemic in the world of art. Sadness is not Twain’s forte as he is destined to offer lighthearted tales. This story, like his many works, hopes to lift life’s burdens and illuminate the gloomy as he tries a different approach.

_____________________________ 1 http://www. readbookonline. net/readOnLine/1002/ While it is true “that the merit of many a great artist has never been acknowledged until after he was starved and dead,” 2 this happened only so often, as stated in the story: “This has happened so often that I make bold to found a law upon it. ” 3 Therefore, the premiere satirist enjoys being a fool sometimes, wise, and wicked all at the same time as he features two clumsy and clever characters to serve as the background. Meanwhile, Twain tries to preserve Millet’s character, after all.

The ending remark: “For once they didn’t starve a genius to death” 4 sounds so witty and comforting that it can cause a reader sign in relief for Millet and feel sorry for his colleagues. Somehow, the sentence masks the deep sentiments, which Twain himself could not bear. ______________________________ 2 Ibid 3 Ibid 4 Ibid. Works Cited Twain, M. “Is He Living Or Is He Dead” http://www. readbookonline. net/readOnLine/1002/ Web Museum Paris. “Millet, Jean-Francois”. http://www. ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/millet/

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