Mark Twain's Satire Lesson Plan

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

This lesson plan utilizes a text lesson analyzing Mark Twain's use of satire, as well as an activity involving writing a skit centered on satire directed at today's world. An exit ticket and extension ideas are also included.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define satire and identify the two types.
  • Explain how Mark Twain used satire in his works.
  • Create a short skit using Horatian satire relevant to today's world.


45-50 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.


By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.


Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.

Key Vocabulary

  • Satire
  • Horatian Satire
  • Juvenalian Satire


  • Handouts of the text lesson
  • Handouts of other Twain works or passages for examples of satire
  • Props for skits if necessary
  • Notebook paper and writing utensils


  • To begin, give a time limit of one to two minutes. Have students write down anything they know about the author Mark Twain.
  • When time is up, ask students to share something they wrote.
  • Explain that one reason Mark Twain is a classic American author is due to his ingenious use of satire.
  • Have students annotate the written lesson as the class reads it. Or have them use another method for notes, like creating graphic organizers or Cornell notes to record the important information.
  • Begin reading the lesson Mark Twain's Satire.
  • Stop after reading the first section, 'An American Satirist.'
    • Discussion Question: What is the purpose of a satire? How did Mark Twain use it? If he were writing satires today, what might he poke fun of or ridicule?
  • Before returning to the lesson, review any important information they should have recorded in their notes.
  • Return to the lesson and read the next two sections, 'Kind of Satire' and 'Horatian Satire.'
  • Review this term and answer any questions students may have.
    • Discussion Question: What other examples of Horatian satire are in our pop culture's lives right now? How are they satire? (examples could include SNL, The Daily Show, other late night TV shows, etc.) This could also become a homework assignment. Have each student go home and try to find at least three examples of satire on TV shows, online videos, or any other media source.
  • Return to the lesson and read the next section, 'Juvenalian Satire.'
  • Review the term and answer any questions students may have.
    • Discussion Question: How is Juvenalian satire different from Horatian? Why might an author choose one over the other to use?
  • Return to the lesson and read the next 2 sections, 'Twain's Horatian Satire' and 'Twain's Juvenalian Satire.'
  • Review the examples and answer any questions.
    • Discussion Question: How are Twain's works, The War Prayer and Letters from the Earth, different from his earlier works, like Huck Finn and The Innocents Abroad?
  • Read the lesson summary and answer any final questions.

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