Are we, as humans, truly and genuinely given the ability of free will--or do we all fall victim to the unavoidable fate that is “destiny”? In Mark Twain’s critically acclaimed essay, “What is Man?”, Twain expresses his own personal opinions through a thought-provoking and captivating debate of two enthralling characters--both referred to as “Old Man” and “Young Man”, respectively.
Twain expresses one side of the argument through the “Old Man” by making effective use of numerous rhetorical questions directed towards the “Young Man” which inevitably portray his opinions of “fate” through further utilizing the analogy that “man” is essentially a “machine” due to being driven by an overwhelming need to satisfy one’s desires. The “Young Man”, on the other hand, is quite skeptical of such assertions, and thus asks the “Old Man” to further explain his proclamation through additional in depth reasoning.
Hence, the philosophical debate which ensues through both individuals constructs the foundation of Twain’s beloved work--allowing such dialogue to be relevant despite being over a century old.