The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg Sits in the Catbird Seat
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The high ground is always desired in battle and serves many advantages as such. This location of benefit provides vision, command, and valor to its holder. Yet, regardless of the means of attaining this position, the owner rests easy in the chair of the catbird seat. Knowing full well that they may relieve some thought of agony over the upcoming battle. No throne of ease is described more vividly than James Thurber’s “The Catbird Seat”. And no means of revealing the deceit utilized to sit in the catbird seat is projected in a more uncanny way than Mark Twain’s “The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg”. Literary pieces as these, whose similarities and differences, reveal more than a humorous story. A symbolic life lesson about authority, deceit, and appearance are prevalent throughout both these works. Yet to the untrained eye, the average reader misses key insights that can apply to any power struggle.
A scuffle for strength can be sparked by several of man’s worldly faults. For the want of wealth is fueled by greed. The pursuit of power is driven by pride. And the desire of it all for one’s self is vanity’s only wish. All these elements can be achieved by means of true authority granted by deceitful appearance. For it is what you are viewed as, not how you got there that is feared and respected. Such qualities are prevalent in leaders both of valor and treachery.
Figures of authority are necessary within a story for the basis of rebellion and conflict. For Twain’s tale, that character is the elected 19’ers as a whole in being the iron fist of community control. These leaders are a false representation of the town which was said to be incorruptible. The flaw in authority is shared equally amongst all the members, but is only revea...
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...ims it to be. In short both stories are saying the same thing, which can be described in a famous Shakespearian line from Hamlet. "This above all: to thine own self be true,/And it must follow, as the night the day,/Thou cans't not be false to any man "(ll.78-80). In this comparison work it means, be your own authority, when you deceive others you deceive yourself, and have the appearance you make yourself to be.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. 1 May. 2011 Web. .
The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg. Ralph Roseblum, Dir. Original Story, Mark Twain. Monterey Home Video. 1980. Videocassette.
Thurber, James. “The Catbird Seat.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson- Prentice Hall, 2007, 465-471. Print.