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‘Advice to Youth’ (1882) by Mark Twain is a satirical essay. It was written several centuries ago, but it still offers a powerful message. It is hilarious, caustic, and all-around good advice. He was asked to write it for America’s youth. Twain tends to take advantage of opportunities to address society’s standards and to criticize authoritative figures who shape youth. Twain’s essay states that children are being reformed to be like everyone else in society and that their individuality is being suppressed. Twain addresses six aspects of youth education that are used in every generation, including selectively obeying parents, respecting superiors, going to bed and getting up early, the issue of lying, handling firearms, reading good books, and remaining sexually pure. He addresses the types of teachings for youth that are utilized in every generation, like respecting your elders. The author’s sarcastic and judgmental tone helps to convey his belief that adolescents’ identities should be cultivated on their own, without the influence of society. Twain advises youth to start “early” to learn “this gracious and beautiful art. If I had begun earlier, I would have learned how”. However, considering that the true purpose of satire is to try and bring change, it is more likely that Twain is satirizing the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ adult world. Mark Twain in ‘Advice to Youth’ gives some kind of ethics code to the younger generation to see them taking profit of the benefits hidden in their virtues. Mark Twain’s first advice to young people is to always obey their parents. His second advice is to be respectful to everyone and especially to superiors, which helps to develop a better attitude and take good initiative even in unpleasant situations. Then Mark Twain talks about lies and wants young people to realize that lies don’t last long and “truth is mighty and will always prevail”. It is better to tell the truth than to lie, losing trust and respect. He also advises young people not to handle firearms carelessly. ‘Advice to Youth’ is a commendable and contradictory text made for young people because it has advice that youth can apply in their lives

I believe that ‘Advice to Youth’ is a wonderful source of help for young people because it brings advice that opens doors for success. One of my reactions to the essay was to tell our youths to obey our parents. It is one of the Ten Commandments that we must follow, and I wholeheartedly agree with Twain’s advice. We should always listen to our parents, we should think and balance our parents’ advice and our own perspectives. Most parents have good advice for youth for our better and greener future. If we try to rebel against them, we will end up in an argument and be forced to do what they said anyway. It makes no difference whether we are correct or incorrect; if we simply listen to them, we will save ourselves the trouble of fighting with our parents and ruining our relationship with them. Besides, our parents know what is best for us because they have been in our shoes. However, we all heard Twain’s advice as children but found it impossible to follow.

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According to Mark Twain, we should respect our superiors regardless of whether they are strangers, family, or friends. We should avoid fighting and instead try to solve the problem through discussion. This point is valid; we should respect our elders even if they are incorrect. Otherwise, in today’s society, we would all have to carry weapons with us at all times in case someone accidentally hit or offended us. It’s best to just ignore stupid remarks made by even dumber people and get on with your life. There is also far too much ignorance in the world for one person to make a significant difference with something like this.

I also totally agree with Mark Twain’s advice about lying. If you are a bad liar, you should avoid lying because it is usually slanderous, and if you are caught spreading lies, you will be labeled as a liar by everyone. This is common sense advice that most people have followed. Most people are skilled at lying because they have practiced for many years. In today’s world, hearing the whole truth from anyone is nearly impossible because we all stretch the truth from time to time.

Taking everything into consideration, I strongly recommend Mark Twain’s essay to young people as a valuable lesson. We should follow Twain’s advice if we want to be good people. All of Twain’s advice is useful and commendable that we constantly hear but don’t pay attention to while growing up until it’s too late to do anything about it.

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