Mark Twain’s “The Man who Corrupted Hadleyburg”

The stranger in Mark Twain’s “The Man who Corrupted Hadleyburg” is motivated by the desire to expose supposedly honest people for who they truly are. The stranger appears to be someone who hates hypocrisy and no longer wants to tolerate the lie that Hadleyburg perpetuates. It has to be a lie because the citizens of Hadleyburg are human beings and like human beings everywhere they are capable of lies, deceit, and greed. While the stranger sets out and succeeds in corrupting the town, he does not do anything more than expose the citizens for who they secretly are and were all along. After all, the town’s solution to their reputation problem in the end of the story is not to address the underlying acts but rather to change their name and pretend nothing happened.

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