Essay on Vanity In The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain

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For the love of Money,
People will steal from their brothers,
For the love of money,
People will rob their own mothers…
People who don’t have money
Don’t let money change you…

-- The O’Jays

After reading "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg," by Mark Twain, the (above) song "For The Love of Money," by the r&b singing group The O’Jays resounded fervently in my head. The song’s ongoing message of the ill affects money can have on a person almost parallels that of Twain’s brilliant story of vanity, greed, revenge, and honesty, or should I say dishonesty. The story displays how much an entire town is willing to forsake in order to obtain that which has been known to destroy
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Vain beyond imagination." (Perkins 379) Although there are other numerous examples that I can pull from to describe the character of Hadleyburg, none do more to exemplify its character than the following passage: "…this town’s honesty is as rotten as mine is; as rotten as yours. It is a mean town, a hard stingy town, and hasn’t a virtue in the world but this honesty it is so celebrated for and so conceited about…" (Perkins 378)
The next example of characterization used by Twain to support the theme of the story comes through the character of the stranger. Even though the speaker of the story doesn’t reveal much about the stranger, we know that he is a very important character in the work primarily because he sets up the corruption plot of the story. We know little else about his character besides what we find out in the beginning of the story when the town offends him in some way that, for what ever reason, the author chose to leave out of the story. "…Hadleyburg had the ill-luck of offending a passing stranger…it would have been well to make an exception in this one’s case, for he was a bitter man and revengeful." (Perkins 372) While this passage lets us know that the stranger is revengeful and bitter, it leaves us still with little else to go on in terms of his character. We also find out toward the end of the story that the stranger, whose name might have been Howard L. Stephenson, could

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