Morality in Young Goodman Brown by Hawthorne and The Tell Tale Heart by Poe

Morality in Young Goodman Brown by Hawthorne and The Tell Tale Heart by Poe

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Morality in Young Goodman Brown by Hawthorne and The Tell Tale Heart by Poe


'Young Goodman Brown,' by Hawthorne, and 'The Tell Tale Heart,' by Poe, offer readers the chance to embark on figurative and literal journeys, through our minds and our hearts. Hawthorne is interested in developing a sense of guilt in his story, an allegory warning against losing one's faith. The point of view and the shift in point of view are symbolic of the darkening, increasingly isolated heart of the main character, Goodman Brown, an everyman figure in an everyman tale. Poe, however, is concerned with capturing a sense of dread in his work, taking a look at the motivations behind the perverseness of human nature. Identifying and understanding the point of view is essential, since it affects a reader's relationship to the protagonist, but also offers perspective in situations where characters are blinded and deceived by their own faults. The main character of Poe?s story embarks on an emotional roller coaster, experiencing everything from terror to triumph. Both authors offer an interpretation of humans as sinful, through the use of foreshadowing, repetition, symbolism and, most importantly, point of view. Hawthorne teaches the reader an explicit moral lesson through the third person omniscient point of view, whereas Poe sidesteps morality in favor of thoroughly developing his characters in the first person point of view.

Third person omniscient point of view, dialogue, and imagery are three literary tools used to reveal the intimate thoughts and feelings of the key characters in Hawthorne?s ?Young Goodman Brown.? For example, Faith bids her husband farewell ?softly and rather sadly? (Hawthorne 133). The tranquility of her adieu...


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...ther serves to excite and stimulate our senses as we travel into the deranged mind of a killer ? offering us a unique perspective through the first person point of view. Similarly, the ending of ?Young Goodman Brown? offers a moral, but leaves the main character in a state of discord and callousness towards his wife, and his religion. The story is didactic, because the main character is punished for his transgressions. Symbolism, evident especially in Hawthorne?s allegory, and the repetition of Poe?s suspenseful tale serve to further the goals of each writer. Ultimately, Hawthorne?s Goodman Brown becomes isolated from humanity, an issue of the head and the heart, and Poe?s narrator withdraws inside himself, an issue purely of the mind. Recognizing this discord from the self and humanity is essential to understanding the behavior of these troublesome characters.

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