Stylistic Features in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

Powerful Essays
Stylistic Features in “Young Goodman Brown”

Henry Seidel Canby in “A Skeptic Incompatible with His Time and His Past” states: “And indeed there is a lack of consistence between the scorn that our younger critics shower upon Hawthorne’s moral creations and their respect for his style. They admit a dignity in the expression that they will not allow to the thing expressed” (62). The style found in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” has not only a “dignity in the expression” as stated above, but also many other interesting aspects, discussed in the following essay.

Canby continues:

Hawthorne’style has a mellow beauty; it is sometimes dull, sometimes prim, but it is never for an instant cheap, never, like our later American styles, deficient in tone and unity. It is a style with a patina that may or may not accord with current tastes, yet, as with Browne, Addison, Lamb, Thoreau, is undoubtedly a style. Such styles spring only from rich ground, long cultivated, and such a soil was Hawthorne’s. . . . Holding back from the new life of America into which Whitman was to plunge with such exuberance, he kept his style, like himself, unsullied by the prosaic world of industrial revolution, and chose, for his reality, the workings of the moral will. You can scarcely praise his style and condemn his subjects. Even romantic themes that would have been absurd in lesser hands get dignity from his purpose. . . . As Shakespeare, the Renaissance man, gave feudalism its final lift into the imagination, so Hawthorne, the skeptic with a moral obsession, raised New England Puritanism – not the theory, but the practice and still more the results in mind and spirit – into art. This lies behind his style (63).

... middle of paper ...

...: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Fuller, Edmund and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” 1835.

James, Henry. Hawthorne.

Kaul, A.N. “Introduction.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Swisher, Clarice. “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

Wagenknecht, Edward. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Man, His Tales and Romances. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1989.
Get Access