The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

Mark Twain Explains Why God Allows Evil to Exist: Reasons for Temptation in "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg" 10th Grade

If God is all powerful, why does He in His infinite wisdom allow Satan to exist? Lucifer, the Devil, the Dark One, the Tempter—seems like all it would take from the all-knowing, all-powerful creator deity is less effort than it takes to sigh and the serpentine sentinel of sinfulness would be locked in the archives all gone and forgotten. And yet, God does not choose to do that. God has no problem wiping out almost all of humanity with a flood. God does not even blink an eye at unleashing plagues upon non-believers. But he won’t burp Satan away. Why might that be?

Mark Twin offers an intriguing answer to this question in his famous short story “The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg.” Twain even directly mentions Satan by name—in effect he incorporate the devil into his story schematic—at a key point point in the story through dialogue:

“You will never see them again—they are destroyed. They came from Satan. I saw the hell-brand on them, and I knew they were sent to betray me to sin.” Then he fell to gabbling strange and dreadful things which were not clearly understandable, and which the doctor admonished them to keep to themselves.

In a way, this short story is a perversion of the Faust trope. Except that an entire township sells...

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