Style and Technique (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Twain’s use of two stories is what makes “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg” more than merely a joke. Mary and Edward Richards are real, sympathetic people—childish, occasionally, but no more so than are most people. Their destruction shows why vanity, lies, and selfish revenge are not funny. In real life, real people are hurt.
Twain uses two other favorite devices, a mysterious stranger and ironic humor, to force the story’s characters to face reality. His stranger in “The Chronicle of Young Satan” says, “For your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. . . . Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand.” Hadleyburg’s stranger forces the townspeople to admit to, laugh at, and then change their egotistical illusions. Humor also keeps the audience reading and, one hopes, thinking.
Compare and Contrast
Topics for Discussion
Ideas for Reports and Papers
Topics for Further Study
What Do I Read Next?
For Further Reference
Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Burns, Ken, Dayton Duncan, and Geoffrey C. Ward. Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.
Camfield, Gregg. The Oxford Companion to Mark Twain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Emerson, Everett. Mark Twain: A Literary Life. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.
Fishkin, Shelley Fisher. Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Fishkin, Shelley Fisher. Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American...
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