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The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg
Transcript of The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg
Howard L. Stephenson
Guise for Satan (Sloan)
Was a stranger passing through Hadleyburg
Hadleyburg did not value strangers
Town crossed him
Howard wanted revenge on Hadleyburg
Wanted more than to kill everyone
Wanted to hurt everyone and force them to live with the shame
determined to corrupt Hadleyburg
"He contrived many plans, and all of them were good, but none of them was quite sweeping enough; the poorest of them would hurt a great many individuals, but what he wanted was a plan which would comprehend the entire town, and not let so much as one person escape unhurt" (21, sec. 1).
Arrived in a buggy at the cashier of a bank's house around ten at night
The cashier was away, so he left a sack to his wife
"Very well, madam, it is no matter. I merely wanted to leave that sack in his care, to be delivered to the rightful owner when he shall be found" (21, sec. 1).
Seemed completely honest and innocent
Man vs. Self
The Richardses were old, overworked, and poor
Conflicted by temptation
Did not want to jeopardize their honesty
Knew it was the wrong thing to do
Morals aside, they truly needed the money
It was undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
"I am so sorry for you, Edward, you know that; but be comforted: we have our livelihood; we have our good name--" (23, sec. 1).
Edward immediately abandons his integrity and suggests to bury the sack and keep it for themselves
Mary is not amused
Urges Edward to get rid of the money in fear of burglars
Honesty and Corruption
Born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri.
Career paths pursued before writing:
Also studied steamboats
Was a licensed pilot
Served in Confederate Army
Dreamed of achieving wealth
Married Olivia (Livy) Langdon, 24 years old
He had four children with her.
Langdon died from diphtheria
Susy died of spinal meningitis.
Tom Sawyer and
Hannibal inspired a majority of Mark Twain's fictional stories
Published a book of former President Ulysses S. Grant.
Goal to be rich off his work but became bankrupt.
Core Values & Legacy
No geographical location, but likely represented a commercial town in America
Honest, upright town for the past three generations
Honesty was the pride, staple, and culture of the town
Other towns were jealous of Hadleyburg's pride in their honesty
School drop out
Birthname: Samuel Langhorne Clemons
Lived in Hannibal during childhood/adolescence.
Exposed to loss, violence, and death throughout his youth
Mark Twain's Life and Work
Point of View
The narrator is all-knowing and can describe the thoughts and feelings of the characters
Helpful to understand motives, intrapersonal conflicts, and unspoken opinions
Offers the reader insight as to the true story of the sack of coins.
Twain is able to tell the reader the stranger's plans of corrupting Hadleyburg before introducing the town
Offers background information and exercises dramatic irony throughout the story using foreshadowing
"I laid a plan, and gathered a list of names. My project was to corrupt Hadleyburg the Incorruptible" (47, sec. 3).
Displays how the mysterious man blatantly informs the reader of his intentions to ruin the town's reputation.
The stranger explains to the reader in the beginning how he will trick the town of Hadleyburg into becoming corrupt, and then the reader watches Hadleyburg fall for his scheme
Dramatic irony: the reader knows something that the characters do not
The short story displays an overall excited tone throughout. The money excites Hadleyburg and neighboring towns.
"Open it! Open it! The Eighteen to the front! Committee on Propagation of the Tradition! Forward- the Incorruptibles!"(47, sec. 3)
The author's purpose of this story is to show how man leads to his own downfall through temptations, this one being a sack of riches.
Irony: One of the prominent ironies of the short story is that the mysterious stranger uses lies to therefore expose other lies.
In 1898, wrote "The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg."
First published in Harper's Magazine in December, 1899
A year later it was published in book form
Greatest short story every written
"He attacks man kind, and America in particular, with a characteristically cruel satiric condemnation of the idealistic, romantic themes of democracy, religion, free will, and honesty prevalent in the popular culture and literature of his day" (Hockersmith and Levernier).
Highlights the ramifications of succumbing to greed and dishonesty
Stranger in the story is based on Twain's belief that Satan walks among men
"Inspiration for Twain's plot has been traced to such disparate sources as Dante's
, and Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado'" (Hockersmith and Levernier).
No reason behind using Hadleyburg as the geographical setting of the story
Twain suffered business losses and economic failures
The tone of the short story could also be described as cynical.
Twain repeatedly questions, tests, and eventually disproves the infallibility of human integrity.
He attacks the purity and goodness of Hadleyburg, and shows that their values were only practical when they were not being tested or used at all.
He proves his personal belief that humans are only motivated by greed and self-interest and should not be trusted to act in favor of doing the right thing or anything that does not specifically benefit themselves.
Personification/Metaphor: "First an angry cloud began to settle darkly upon the faces of the citizenship..."(40, sec. 3).
Twain describes a cloud (an inanimate object) as possessing human emotions (anger).
He also states that the cloud "settled upon the faces of the citizenship," which is physically impossible, and is rather used to describe the dismal attitudes of the citizens.
Metaphor: "The house had gotten itself all ready to burst into the proper tornado of applause..."(37, sec. 3).
This compares the sound of applause to the sounds a tornado produces.
Hyperbole: "Mr. Burgess rose and laid his hand on the sack he could hear his microbes gnaw, the place was so still"(36, sec. 3).
Twain exaggerates that the hall was so quiet, Burgess could hear microorganisms moving.
: "That is the thing to do--I will corrupt the town" (21, sec. 1).
: "He contrived many plans, and all of them were good, but none of them was quite sweeping enough; the poorest of them would hurt a great many individuals, but what he wanted was a plan which would comprehend the entire town, and not let so much as one person escape unhurt" (21, sec. 1).
Effects on others
: He causes an entire "incorruptible" town to abandon their cardinal value using only a sack, a note, and some letters.
: He purposefully exploits the dishonesty and greed of a town founded on candor.
: His physical appearance is not described in the story.
Stranger left a note on the sack to explain
"TO BE PUBLISHED; or, the right man sought out by private inquiry--either will answer. This sack contains gold coin weighing a hundred and sixty pounds four ounces--" (21, sec. 1).
The stranger's story:
Grateful to Hadleyburg
A year or two ago, a stranger in the dark gave him $20 and told him a remark while he was begging and bankrupt from his gambling addiction
Could not identify the man because it was dark outside
Later went on to become rich off of that $20 by gambling
Wants the man who gave him $20 to be granted the money in the sack
"This is an honest town, an incorruptible town, and I know I can trust it without fear" (22, sec. 1).
Citizens of Hadleyburg care for only greed and personal desires
Alluded the corruption of Hadleyburg to the story of Adam and Eve and the downfall of man
Shows the inevitability of sin
Motives: greed, selfishness, and pride which are key characteristics of human nature
Cruel side of humanity can not be overcome by desires of righteousness or faith
Shows Twain's imagination during his final two years of his legendary career
Faith, good intentions, and indoctrination cannot usurp the fundamental imperfections and universal shortcomings of the human race.
"The last of the sacred Nineteen had fallen a prey to the fiendish sack; the town was stripped of the last rag of its ancient glory. Its mourning was not showy, but it was deep" (55, sec. 4).
Twain indicates his belief that the devil resides within all of us, and is the source of human sin, and the reason that humanity cannot overcome the temptation to do evil.
This is seen when the "Incorruptible" residents of Hadleyburg lose their flawless reputation all over a sack of (apparently worthless) riches.
The note instructed the Richardses to either
Send the inquiry privately to whomever they thought the rightful owner to be
Then, have the man recite the remark
Open the sack and read the remark to verify the man's testimony
Or, publish a public inquiry
Publish in the local newspaper
Instruct the candidate to appear at the town-hall at eight in the evening, thirty days from now
Rev. Burgess would compare the remark in the sack to the remark given by the candidate
If correct, Rev. Burgess would then give the money to the candidate
Red hair and handsome
Successfully traveled around-the-world lecture tour
No material character actually wanted to do the moral, honest thing
Honesty would have prevented the citizens from exploiting and embarrassing themselves
Would have protected the town's integrity
Honesty was the only component of the story that fought against the corruption
Intrapersonal struggle of the citizens: honesty or wealth
Symbolically dominated by greed, duplicity, and subterfuge.
"She rose and stood thinking, nervously clasping and unclasping her hands. A slight shudder shook her frame, and she said, out of a dry throat, 'God, forgive me--it's awful to think such things--but... Lord, how we are made--how strangely we are made!'" (26, sec. 1).
In a passion of pride, the Richardses decide to publish the offer in the paper.
However, immediately afterward, Edward regrets his honesty and attempts to recall the publication
He does not make it in time, and throughout the story, continues to abandon his morals for the money
Edward contemplates what the remark could have been
Conveniently receives a letter from Stephenson stating the remark needed to collect the reward.
In the end, Edward convinces himself that he gave the stranger $20 and attempts to claim the money, but is saved by an old friend that he was dishonest about
The town was unable to hold true to their values because they learned by indoctrination and "training," rather than trial and error
In the end, the entire town follows the Richardses' lead
All claim to have done the task and made the remark
All are embarrassed in town hall for their infidelity
When their values are tested, all the citizens fail miserably and succumb
Corruption wins the battle against honesty, and the "incorruptible town" is corrupted.
Man vs. Self
Twain used the story as an allusion to the story of Adam and Eve
Garden of Eden: Hadleyburg
Adam: Edward Richards
Eve: Mary Richards
Apple: sack of coins
"Lead us not into temptation."
Purity and Sin
Hadleyburg primarily Baptist (Protestant)
The Richardses are comfortably faithful to their values until temptation arises
Much like Adam and Eve, they are tempted to do what they know is wrong for their own personal gain
The Richardses are tempted to abandon their values for a tempting bag of money, the same way Adam and Eve were tempted to betray god for an apple
Much like Satan with Adam and Eve, Stephenson is able to detect, target, and penetrate the pride in Hadleyburg (Sloan)
Stephenson knows that since the honesty of the town is false, they will fail when tempted
The Richardses, along with the rest o the town, succumb to temptation
They are banished from their previous position of pride and stature, the same way Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden
The town must forever live down the humiliation and can never return to the degree of perfection they had before
Similar to Adam and Eve causing the downfall of humanity and could never return to their holiness
Complex ideas about human nature
This short story has parallels with the story, "How Much Land Does a Man Need."
Similarities include how both of these short stories' themes relate.
Both talk of how temptation and greed can lead to man's downfall. The residents of Hadleyburg's, "Incorruptible town" were tempted by the evils within the sack, and Pakhom was tempted by the thought of infinite land.
What resulted was the tragic ending to Hadleyburg's flawless reputation and Pakhom's death.
In the other story, this man wanted to claim as much land as possible. What resulted was that the man died in an effort to claim more land than he could manage.
This ties to our story because both temptation and desire can lead to failure.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Shows similar themes of dishonesty and theft, but in a different light
Also emphasizes the corrupting effect of money on the government
Batman: The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger somewhat significant to a modern Satan figure
Fundamentally evil and corrupt
Wanted to cause massive suffering and pain to innocent masses
When, if ever, is it okay to lie?
Quote from "The Mysterious Stranger"