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The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

by Mark Twain
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Give two examples of satire in the story "The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg."  

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The narrator is quite emphatic, in the exposition, about the honesty and incorruptibility of the citizens of Hadleyburg. They are so secure in their estimation of the town's honesty that the citizens do not lock their doors. The first example of satire occurs after the stranger leaves the bag...

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The narrator is quite emphatic, in the exposition, about the honesty and incorruptibility of the citizens of Hadleyburg. They are so secure in their estimation of the town's honesty that the citizens do not lock their doors. The first example of satire occurs after the stranger leaves the bag of gold at the home of the Richards the bank cashier. When Mrs. Richards reads the note that indicates that there is "a hundred and sixty pounds four ounces" of gold coin in the bag, the first thing she does is lock her doors and pull down the window shades. This action suggests that she may not feel so secure about the town's honesty after all, with such a large sum of money suddenly in her home, especially as "she listened awhile for burglars."

A second example of satire occurs when Richards confesses to his wife that he is the only person who knows that Reverend Burgess was not guilty of what he had been accused of. Moreover, Richards says that he didn't come forward to help Burgess; he tells Mary "I could have saved him, and—and—well, you know how the town was wrought up—I hadn’t the pluck to do it. It would have turned everybody against me." So, Richards is not an honest citizen of Hadleyburg, and his wife is troubled by his dishonesty and the fact that he could have saved Burgess until she rationalizes: "As long as he doesn’t know that you could have saved him, he—he—well that makes it a great deal better." She, too, is dishonest and hypocritical.

In these two examples, Twain satirizes the idea that anyone can legitimately claim to be incorruptible and honest. Twain suggests that people are really only concerned with perceptions, not facts, when it comes to their self-regard.

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In his story "The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg," Mark Twain uses satire to convey a powerful message. One example of satire is the way he pokes fun at a town that is alleged to be incorruptible. The town of Hadleyburg is proud that it is so honest, even to the point of bragging about it. Twain reveals, through the trick of the stranger, that no town is completely incorruptible, and in fact, this town makes a fool of itself when it shows its level of corruption at the possibility of a bag of gold.

The other way Twain uses satire is to reveal the level on which people fall prey to temptation. Though the people of Hadleyburg claim that they would never be so weak as to be tempted, they quickly are when something is put in front of them. Twain shows the people to be ridiculous and immoral as they are tempted by the money, especially when he reveals in the end that the coins are gilded.

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