In "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg," Mark Twain explores many weaknesses of human nature. Hadleyburg was a town, noted, praised and envied of the citizens honesty and incorruptibility, until a single man corrupted and surfaced weaknesses of individuals and the community as a whole. Dishonesty, greed and falling into temptation are the stories greatest examples of human weakness. From these three sprout many more, all in all adding up to a total corruption.
Dishonesty is a very common occurrence throughout the story. Mr. Richards has problems deciding which secrets should be kept and which should be told. His first act of dishonesty happened before the actual time of the story, when he decided not to testify on Rev. Mr. Burgess's behalf in order to prove his innocence. Even though he warned him to leave town, possibly saving Mr. Burgess's life, he was still guilty of carrying this dishonest secret.
When the secret of the sack of gold arose he made a mistake by running straight to the printing press and thus announcing it to the world.
Another form of dishonesty came in the justification of wrong doings. All nineteen important citizens of Hadleyburg were guilty of this. The first act of justification came when Mr. Richards made the initial assumption that the man who gave the stranger the twenty dollars must have been Mr. Barclay Goodson. Mr. Goodson, being of course deceased would then justify, in Mr. Richards mind, that he was the one who deserved the gold, due to his lack there of. Mr. Richards was just assigned to honorably seek the rightful owner of the gold and was already instinctively scheming ways to find reasons why he was the deserving one. Then when the nineteen letters were received by the nineteen important citizens of Hadleyburg, each...