Free YGB Essay - The Message of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown
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"`Lo! there ye stand, my children…” In the story "Young Goodman Brown", the prominent theme is that everyone has a dark side. As the dark figure clearly states, "Evil is the nature of mankind." Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" describes the hunger for virtue people of the early 19th century had, and how that virtue is all but a dream, through his tone and imagery.
As the passage begins, the first word read is "Lo!" An audience reads this word, and immediately gets the feeling that someone of a supreme nature or of high power is speaking. "...[T]here ye stand, my children," again allows the reader to see that some sort of father figure is about to speak to his children. The next several words describe the harsh tone of how this "figure" is speaking. This dark tone coming from words like "deep and solemn" easily sets up how the figure is speaking to his children. However, the reader receives a glimpse of a past good in this devilish character. When Hawthorne writes that the figure speaks with "almost sad...dispairing awfulness," the audience sees that the dark creature at one time might have not been so melancholy, "as if his once angelic nature could yet mourn for our miserable race." This thought runs parallel to some form of biblical text where Lucifer, an angel of God, is damned out of heavens to become the ruler of Hell. Hawthorne's background of a religious family probably makes him knowledgeable about these histories. The phrase brings about a sense of the dark figure's previous peaceful past--how the figure was once a good soul, virtuous with the rest of the audience souls. The passage gives a down tone when it describes the feeling of the dark figure. One might also get a sense of the imagery the Hawthorne accomplishes when describing the distraught figure. The audience can see the creature talking with his deep dark voice, and the fear of what really is true about our society. The figure remembers being of an "angelic nature," how he too had a virtuous persona. Unfortunately, as the context of the passage conveys, there is a harsh reality that virtuous world is just a myth. This is against all of Young Goodman Brown's beliefs that there is no evil if one sets their mind to it, but the figure proves Brown very wrong.