Mark Twain's The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg

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Mark Twain's "The Five Boons"

Mark Twain was a realist writer, and in his work on the five boons he concentrated on contemporary issues and building the characters rather than focusing on actual occurrences. He organized his work as a tale which in reality illustrates a common theme. He used a plot similar to fairytale scenery to deliver moral lessons about choices and actions and their probable consequences. I was impressed because the work aimed to improve morality in the society by helping build individuals character by ensuring the make informed decisions. The book denotes the meaning of existence. It starts when a boy receives a basket of gifts from a fairy to pick any of the five gifts inside. He was given the choice of wealth, desire, fame, affection, and demise. The story depicts the importance of life and the significance of wise decisions.

The Story of the Gifts

The story trails several phases in the life cycle, each being marked by a chapter. The first chapter characterizes the youthful stage where individuals have numerous selections in life but settle for pleasure. The second represents the stage where on craves for love; the third chapter represents the search of fame and relevance, the fourth chapter represents the quest for fame. The character is depicted as a boy in the first chapter. When given a choice among the five gifts available as many of your men the boy craved for pleasure, and he thought that was all he needed in life. We see time pass, and as he grew to a man his priorities changed, and he requested a change of gifts arguing that pleasure was a short run gift and did not meet his expectations anymore. The fairy presented the man with the four remaining gifts and urged him to make a wise decision for only one gift is valuable. After careful consideration, the men choose the gift of love which the fairy granted him. The man was happy and went ahead to fall in love and start his own family. But later in life, the man was dissatisfied because the gift of love brought grief his way when his wife passed away. The brimming grief made the man wish that he had picked a different gift when he had a chance (Twain, 2010).

The fairy appeared to him again in chapter three and allowed him to pick the third gift. The fairy urges the man to pick more wisely. The man considering the emptiness the last two choices had left him he had an epiphany and concluded that fame was the gift that could fill the void and give him fulfillment in life. His hopes that fame would fill his soul were crashed because realized that fame was the source of resentment and hatred from other individuals. He found himself feeling more excluded from society, and he wished that he could go back and change his choice of gift. In the fourth chapter, the fairy gives him yet another chance to pick one among the two remaining gifts. The man realized that he had not picked the one thing that is guaranteed to make him happy and he picked wealth. He thought that wealth would be the tool he needed to hack life. The fairy disappointed with his choice granted him his request (Twain, 2010). Years later the fairy visits the old man only to find him sited naked and troubled by his life and all the choices that led him to the situation that he was in, the old man begged the fairy to give him the last gift of death to rescue him from his misery. The old man wanted death to relieve him from the tribulations of the world molded by his choices.

Themes and Insights

The story is based on the authors’ insight because it is based on their perception of life and what they think individuals prioritize in the various stages of life. He depicts the man as the main character in the story, and the gifts are the choices that he considered available at every stage of life. Mark Twain develops the main character both physically and mentally as the story progresses. He does not give a name to his character because he wants everyone to relate to all individuals in the various stages of life. Twain narrowed down the gifts by considering what choices and paths were available to him personally at every stage of life. He starts by characterizing the man as young and at the peak of his life and proceeded to show how the choices made at a young age play a role in personality development. As a young person he was immature and chooses pleasure, and he learned the mistake of his choices about his age and kept changing his choices. Mark narrates the story in the third-person style which shows a relationship between the character and him. The story is narrated in past occurrence which indicates that the events have already occurred and his presence is experienced through his comments about the characters speech and actions.

The main themes portrayed by the tale are the devious nature of human existence and choices. The themes are enhanced by the gifts that were at the character's disposal. The five gifts are in reality social experiences which are universal. Desire, affection, and demise are experienced by all and fame and wealth can be attained by any individual theoretically. The story shows how human nature is deceptive and illusionary. The character does not experience what they thought the gift entailed. The gifts were double-edged, and every good came with an equal evil. Pleasure brought forth pain, love caused grief, fame made him an object of envy, and final wealth caused him misery. The theme of choice is persistent during the story where the fairy is seen giving the character options and letting them make a choice over and over again. The story demonstrates that an individual has more than one chance to make the correct choice in life.

The Significance of Life and Priorities

The title of the story is deceptive as is proclaims the text is about the five blessings in life which is not the case. In the end, the man is not granted his which of death and the fairy states that the man does not deserve old age because of the poor decisions he made in life. The story shows the significance of existence and priorities. The story communicates a lesson on the effects and importance of making wise choices and the value of life. The story is relevant to its readers as it provides them with a wide perspective of life and an insight to consequence as a result of choices. Readers are influenced to live and exploit their potentials to the maximum to achieve the absolute best and value life.


Twain, M. (2010). The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain. Stilwell: Neeland Media LLC.

November 24, 2023



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