The Mechanism of Conformity by Mark Twain



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The Mechanism of Conformity by Mark Twain



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The Mechanism of Conformity by Mark Twain

Mark Twain states that “We are creatures of outside influences; as a rule, we do not think, we only “imitate.”   I agree partly and disagree partly with Twain reasoning. Life composes of forces that influence how people, young and old, interact with each other to understand life (Fulton, 2018). Certainly, society is a creature of outside influences that include politics, religion, and parenting. For instance, a child lifestyle affected by the parenting styles impacts memories, behaviours, and attitudes.

Similarly, society moves in the direction of the influence caused by religion or politics. Therefore, conformity applies when individuals or groups of people tend to follow what the outside world provides for them without questioning their instinct. But if some people may follow their instincts, still the external forces like politics and religion will align them, and at that point, all people will be acting the same. Seemingly Mark Twain was right by considering uniformity in every society by thinking that an individual’s life is made by imitating what comes around them and what makes their environment (Mill & John Stuart). The concern is whether it is true or false that the society is a creature of outside influences, and if true, the community don’t think; instead, copy what they come about to make it have its identity.

First, let us find the meaning of imitation as used in corn-pone opinions by Mark Twain. Imitation means copying by acting the same way as the initial inventor of thought with full passion and energy. Such happens during presentations of any kind by vocalization, body movement like dancing or demonstration of actual acts as presented before by someone to the audience (Crews, 2014). For example, a child may imitate their parents when their parents talk, walk or express their emotions. Besides, imitation forms the external influences which shape the opinion of the society. So the cone-pone reveals the way society acts (Crews, 2014). Coping the previous and making them part of one’s life supports the idea presented by Twain. For example, as a child or adult, the world may instil some qualities or values like table manners, speech manners among others through parents or friends; hence, supporting mark’s statement that “I can never forget it. it was deeply impressed upon me” (Mill & John Stuart). Such indicates how the human creatures cannot think of their own but rather affected by outside forces to live a comfortable life.

Moreover, society conforms to the demands present at a time and later become transformed by the new styles around them. For example, the introduction of a new fashion of clothing like faring hoop skirt, which many women from the beginning never liked, later received reception, and every woman was into it. Besides, the style introduced a force to which every woman in the society would conform. Such indicates the power behind the majority to individual’s decision; after the laws approve the fashion, every woman was to wear the dress (Crews, 2014). Interestingly individual’s minds are trained by the multitude’s demand and approvals. Besides, the introduction of new fashions usually replaces the old styles and all categories of the young, teens or old society move with the changes (Crews, 2014).

Similarly, the families will adjust to different manners from time to time without realizing it. Because the nature of humanity to changes lacks reasoning, people will not always notice but instead, find themselves conforming to the changes. As a result, Twain illustrates the principle of conformity as a lack of sense to reason out but rather imitate that our society provides.

Furthermore, Twain’s ideas of failure to invent long-lasting standards but rather go with volatile fashions, which have short shelf-life, support the statement that we only imitate and do not reason out as creatures. For many reasons, different groups of people will always admire new fashions, go with such styles and drop them on the way as caused by outside factors beyond our reasoning. For example, several writers preferred to use Shake spears standards, building literature works, t five decades later, the use came to none existence. Besides, “our prose standards, three-quarters of a changed in it the directions of compactness and simplicity, and conformity followed, without argument,” (Mill & John Stuart). As a result, the narrative used by everyone has taken control over our reasoning. To much extent, everyone fails to follow such writings in novels and influence others to conform without reason. Similarly, “We are conforming in the other way, now, because it is another case of everybody”. Hence, the argument best supports the fact that conformity within society is like a wave that carries everyone without their knowledge.

Although the outside influences always control our actions by the verdicts made. The possibility of rejecting conformity is nearly zero. But according to Twain, the impact of external forces like morals, religion and politics from the surrounding area not inherent practice by the everyman. Since as stated, “A man must and will have his approval first of all, in every moment or circumstance of their life even if they must repent of a self-approval again” (Mill & John Stuart). Therefore, the personalities of everyone remain intact and will not be subject to changes coming along the way. Hence our society identifies us by what we conform with; for instance, the principles or doctrines distinguishes Catholics from Presbyterians and Baptists (Mill & John Stuart). The identity makes it right to tell why our reasoning is influenced by outside influences and the reasoning of minds. And broadly analyzing the states we see in life as cases of thieves, murders and fornications, they are all under corn-pones opinion, which means self-approval of a particular event in life. Hence, the cone-pone view is subject to others approval which results in conformity ( Stamper, 2018). Further, the ideas of conformity are evident to take control of the people action both by dictating their social life and behaviour and helping in understanding the transformations in our lives.




Fulton, J. B. (2018). Mark Twain’s” Corn-Pone Opinions,” Reflections on a Letter and a Book,” and” Moral and Intellectual Man”. American Literary Realism50(2), 162-163.

Stamper, R. (2018). ” Corn-Pone Opinions” Revisited: An Argument Against the Conflated Text. American Literary Realism50(2), 152-161.


Crews, M. (2014). Mark Twain’s Cheerful Determinist: Good News in” What is Man?”. Mark Twain Journal52(1), 61-80.

Mill, John Stuart. From On Liberty, pp. 17, 34-35.


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