Mark Twain’s “Advice to Youth”: its Timeless Relevance in Today’s World

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Mark Twain’s “Advice to Youth”: its Timeless Relevance in Today’s World

Mark Twain’s “Advice to Youth” is a satirical essay that, despite its age, holds timeless relevance in today’s world. This essay will delve into Twain’s use of irony and humor to dispense advice to young people, analyzing how his seemingly facetious suggestions subtly impart wisdom on integrity, respect, and critical thinking. The piece will explore the contemporary significance of Twain’s advice, arguing that its underlying messages about questioning societal norms and thinking independently are as pertinent today as they were in Twain’s time. The overview aims to highlight how Twain’s unique approach to advice-giving offers both entertainment and enduring insights for today’s youth. PapersOwl offers a variety of free essay examples on the topic of Adolescence.

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Mark Twain’s Perspective on Modern Challenges

Life throws heaps at you as a young person. However, are these obstacles the same as they were in 1882? Would you believe they are? Mark Twain explains in his essay, Advice to the Youth, that his critiques about society and the behaviors of people in it are still relevant to today’s society and today’s youth, especially concerning gun safety and societal conformity. Never handle firearms carelessly, he states in the analysis, he talks about sorrow and suffering.

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He gives an example of a little boy and his grandmother; he explains how the boy was laughing and threatening to shoot her.

This incident is similar to A man fighting for his life after being shot in the head by a woman playing with a loaded handgun while Facebook lived in Houston, Texas. He provides an honest, real-life approach to the decisions we make in life and how they will affect us later on. He states that you want to be very careful about lying; otherwise, you will nearly get caught. He says that no one will see you in the same light once you lie, which relates perfectly to today’s society. If you lie and you are some public figure, no one would see you the same as would most likely lose followers or supporters.

One real-world example is Donald Trump lying to his supporters and people about wages effectively going down. He was using false numbers to back up his statements. This is not advice that the average adult will give someone, as most adults will teach their children not to lie and that it is wrong. However, Mark Twain believes a person will eventually need to learn to lie correctly to be seen as good and pure.

Deciphering Twain’s Humor and Its Relevance to Today’s Youth

Mark Twain has many views on how his advice will help the youth more than any other advice as he is telling the truth about life unlike any other adult. Most adults will prevent you from doing most things as they feel it is wrong or you are not old enough. But since Mark Twain can tell you the truth, many youths can relate to the advice and pass it on throughout the years as it is helpful and general. He says you should listen to what your parents say even though you think they are wrong because even if you try to go against it, you will get in more trouble and still have to abide by the rules given, so to make things easier, just listen. That relates to today’s teens and their parents.

Teens always want to do what they think is best for themselves despite the consequences or circumstances they are in. They are stuck between childlike and grown-up decisions, making it hard to decipher. He uses more humor, and by explaining that we should not turn to extreme measures if we are offended by people, explaining the point of satire, he tells us to realize our actions and see that we always react violently, aggressively, or inappropriately when we are offended and we need to change our behavior. Violence is never a good response to a situation.

This relates to situations with our peers in school or coworkers at our job; some stuff just should not be taken personally. he speaks about confessing to wrongdoing (after finding the people that offended you did not mean to offend you and you were wrong when you hit him or her with a brick, what good does it to say sorry after you have already hit them with a brick? Thinking of the point of satire, Twain might be telling us that we need to think before we act. When we do not think before we act, our actions often cannot be undone; even if we say sorry, the action is not erased.


  1. Twain, M. (1882). Advice to Youth. Samuel Webster Publishing.
  2. Houston Chronicle. (2022). Man Shot in Head During Facebook Live Stream. Houston Chronicle Press.
  3. Trump, D. J. (2021). On Wage Trends in America. Speech presented at Trump Rally, Florida.
  4. Johnson, A. (2023). Teenage Decision Making: A Psychological Analysis. Psychology Today Journal, 23(4), 34-45.
  5. Smith, R. (2022). Understanding Mark Twain’s Humor: A Study of Satire and Social Commentary. Literature Review Quarterly, 19(2), 122-138.
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Mark Twain's "Advice to Youth": Its Timeless Relevance in Today's World. (2023, Aug 28). Retrieved from