Q. D. Leavis in “Hawthorne as Poet” mentions Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” as “essentially dramatic” : “The first batch of works I specified [including “Young Goodman Brown”] is essentially dramatic, its use of language is poetic, and it is symbolic, and richly so, as is the dramatic poet’s. . . “ (27) This essay will examine this and other features of the structure of Hawthorne’s short story.
Leavis’ evaluation of the story’s structure as “essentially dramatic” is consistent with the view expressed by Clarice Swisher in “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography.” She states: “Biographers and critics of Nathaniel Hawthorne must deal with opposites – determination and self-doubt, imagery of light and dark, flowers and weeds – paradoxes” (13). Swisher’s “opposites” and Leavis’ “essentially dramatic” are the same concept, in the estimation of this reader. Let’s examine the text to see evidence of this; notice how the “opposites” say their lines in the fashion of a drama:
"Dearest heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, "pr'ythee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed tonight. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she's
afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!"
"My love and my Faith," replied young Goodman Brown, "of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done 'twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married!"
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...n Brown,” including the time-frame, the use of foreshadowing, suspenseful incidents, the “dramatic” aspect, the climax and denouement.
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” 1835. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/amlit/goodman/goodmantext.html
Kaul, A.N. “Introduction.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Leavis, Q.D. “Hawthorne as Poet.” 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.
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