Mark Twain's "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg.

1217 words - 5 pages

In "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg," Mark Twain explores many weaknesses of human nature. Hadleyburg was a town, noted, praised and envied of the citizens honesty and incorruptibility, until a single man corrupted and surfaced weaknesses of individuals and the community as a whole. Dishonesty, greed and falling into temptation are the stories greatest examples of human weakness. From these three sprout many more, all in all adding up to a total corruption.Dishonesty is a very common occurrence throughout the story. Mr. Richards has problems deciding which secrets should be kept and which should be told. His first act of dishonesty happened before the actual time of the story, when he decided not to testify on Rev. Mr. Burgess's behalf in order to prove his innocence. Even though he warned him to leave town, possibly saving Mr. Burgess's life, he was still guilty of carrying this dishonest secret. When the secret of the sack of gold arose he made a mistake by running straight to the printing press and thus announcing it to the world.Another form of dishonesty came in the justification of wrong doings. All nineteen important citizens of Hadleyburg were guilty of this. The first act of justification came when Mr. Richards made the initial assumption that the man who gave the stranger the twenty dollars must have been Mr. Barclay Goodson. Mr. Goodson, being of course deceased would then justify, in Mr. Richards mind, that he was the one who deserved the gold, due to his lack there of. Mr. Richards was just assigned to honorably seek the rightful owner of the gold and was already instinctively scheming ways to find reasons why he was the deserving one. Then when the nineteen letters were received by the nineteen important citizens of Hadleyburg, each and every one of them attempted to justify their reasons for why they were deserving of the gold. They had to do this by first lying about their negative feelings towards Mr. Goodson and then contriving some story of a good service acted towards him. Mr. Richards, after thinking long and hard made up a story that he felt no-one would be able to see through. Not only did he make it up but the more and more he thought about it the more he began to believe it himself. "In fact, it went on looking better and better, straight - along until by-and-by it grew into positive proof." (pg. 1026). His story was that he had found out that the woman Mr. Goodson was about to marry had negro blood in her family history. He then proceeded to tell the village, who then informed Mr. Goodson. Therefore Mr. Goodson was grateful to him. People find it quite easy to lie when they are sure they will not get caught. Especially when there they are greedy and financial benefit is involved.Greed can come in many different forms as well. Arrogance is a form of greed that the citizens of Hadleyburg were guilty of. They had a reputation of not being so kind to strangers passing through. They thought that they were above anyone else...

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