Manual The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

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The mysterious stranger is avenging a slight, an insult from the leaders of Hadleyburg, and he wants to expose all of them. Like Milton's Satan, Twain's is a proud being.

The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg |

He plots his strategy carefully. As in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," that other American short story classic of revenge, timing is all. The stranger waits patiently for some years until Goodson dies, for he had a decency that might have thwarted the stranger's plan. But when the moment is ripe, the stranger puts his huge temptation before the leaders of Hadleyburg.

The love of money is the bait that will expose the hypocrisy of the community. For a perfect revenge there must be considerable duration to the agony. Thus, waiting is central to the action of the story, and the Committee of Nineteen has three weeks to wait between the inciting incident and the public gathering at which truth, or much of it, becomes manifest. As in Poe's story, the victims must have ample time to ponder what is being done to them and who is doing it.

The avenger knows his victims' weaknesses and counts on these weaknesses to lead them into his trap. Finally, there is the satisfaction of the victims' agony, which in Twain's story is made palpable in the painful deaths of Mary and Edward Richards. When the stranger leaves Hadleyburg, it is utterly changed. The survivors are east of Eden, as it were. As in Paradise Lost , Satan has some of his most impressive moments in a public arena. Twain creates his own Pandemonium when the citizens gather on the appointed Friday perhaps Good Friday to learn who deserves the "reward" left by the gambler.

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Each of the illustrious Committee of Nineteen has submitted a statement claiming that he meets the stipulated test identifying him as the one who did the mysterious stranger the deserving good deed. Twain's naming of the citizens—Billson, Wilson, Thompson—underscores how much of a piece they are. The town's citizens enter into the fun of the exposures that follow. As is usual for Twain, there is a "hoss sense" character useful to the exposure. He is Jack Halliday, "the loafing, good-natured no-account, irreverent fisherman, hunter, boys' friend, stray dogs' friend, typical 'Sam Lawson' of the town.

Twain exposes the folly of American elections in the speeches that follow, known as spin control today, for Hadleyburg is in the midst of a political campaign. Not surprisingly, the advantage in spin control and the ensuing election go to the so-called Dr. Clay Harkness, who has become wealthy from a popular patent medicine and who is able to turn disgrace into triumph through negative campaigning and to win the election.

The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

Crowds in Twain's work are typically fooled by clever oratory, and Hadleyburg gets the politicians it deserves. Here, as in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , there is not much to love in humankind, the species. Like Milton, Twain ends his account of lost innocence with focus on a pivotal couple, not on the assembly.


When the town meeting ends, in the community's view Mary and Edward Richards are the uncorrupted ones. They have escaped exposure because the Reverend Mr. Burgess wished to save them, remembering that Edward had done him a kindness.

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Edward knows how minimal that kindness was, how cowardly he had been in letting Burgess bear a punishment he did not deserve. Mary and Edward know that they are no more virtuous than the other council elite. Satan is not, it turns out, ready to leave the Richardses alone, for he wants to make sure that their innocence is real. In fact, Twain does not only show his criticism of hypocrisy, but also his idea of an escape from hypocrisy in this story.

Freudian psychoanalysis can make this clear to us. Freud separates the human mind into three parts: the ego, the super-ego, and the id. In this story, the ego is embodied in Mr. What Twain presents as the alternative to the super-ego as a beacon is the id. He also says we must at first accept that we must follow the id instead of following the super-ego, and this is the only way to prevent us from falling into hypocrisy.

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Journal home Journal issue About the journal. Takashi Suzuki Author information. Takashi Suzuki. Published: received: - Released: March 11, accepted: - [Advance Publication] Released: - corrected: -. Article overview. References 0.