American Lit Essay

Submitted By 13vlee
Words: 980
Pages: 4

Taking a Bet on Twain’s Rhetorical Strategies
Mark Twain, well known for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published his successful short story in 1865 originally titled “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. In Twain’s short story he plays around with the narration by using low diction due to the narrator’s southern style of speech. Not only is Twain’s dialogue and narration intriguing to his readers but also his use of rhetorical strategies such as symbolism, allegory, and dramatic irony grabs his audience’s attention and can cause them to reflect on the unique story. Twain uses frogs to symbolize money and greed because they are associated with the color green. While some readers would think nothing of Twain’s use of frogs in his short story, others may be confused. Why would Twain choose frogs out of all the other animals? Although frogs come in many different colors, they are usually associated with the color green. Green symbolizes money and greed because Jim Smiley, known for his obsession with placing bets, mostly wins. He bets on anything he can and is described as “uncommon lucky” (Twain 102). Surprisingly, Smiley is not greedy. He does enjoy winning money but as readers see later on the stranger who bets against Smiley’s frog initially ends up cheating and taking a total of eighty dollars, “the feller took the money and started away; and when he was going out at the door, he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulder—so—at Dan’l, and says again, very deliberate, ‘Well’ he says, ‘I don’t see no p’ints about that frog that’s any better’n any other frog” (Twain 104). The stranger cheated because he knew he would not get the money unless he resorted to cheating. Twain uses allegory to relate the personalities of Jim Smiley’s pets to political figures. The narrator mentions Smiley’s pet bulldog named Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson was the President of the United States as well as a war general. He is remembered as being fierce and tough in battles just like the dog, “it was a good pup, was that Andrew Jackson, and would have made a name for hisself if he’d lived, for the stuff was in him and he had genius—I know it, because he hadn’t no opportunities to speak of, and it don’t stand to reason that a dog could make such a fight as he could under them circumstances if he hadn’t no talent” (Twain 103). In addition, Smiley’s frog is named Daniel Webster after the statesman during the antebellum era. Webster was a well-educated American and Smiley believed that his frog should be well educated too, “Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do ‘most anything—and I believe him” (Twain 103). Twain’s use of allegory is appealing to his readers because they might not have expected a dog and a frog’s personality to be compared to a former President of this nation and an intelligent statesman. Irony can be seen throughout “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” when readers see what happens to Smiley’s frog that he cannot see as well as the irony of real life figures and the animals. Dramatic irony appears in the story when Smiley bets against the stranger that comes to town. Smiley says that his frog can out jump any frog and the stranger disagrees but cannot move forward with the bet because he does not have a frog. Of course Smiley, being the obsessive better that he is, goes to get the stranger a frog leaving Daniel Webster in the hands of his new acquaintance. Although Smiley is oblivious to the strangers’ actions, readers learn that the stranger has filled the frogs mouth with shot in order to weigh him down so that he cannot jump, “so he set there a good while thinking and thinking to hisself, and then he got