Bad Women in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

Bad Women in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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        Few, if any, women in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” are truly good. Even the seemingly best ones are involved in devil-worship – at least, and maybe much more. This essay intends to explore this subject of bad women in the tale.

 
Randall Stewart in “Hawthorne’s Female Characters” states that there are three types of female characters in Hawthorne’s writings: (1) “the wholesome New England girl, bright, sensible and self-reliant;” (2) “the frail, sylph-like creature, easily swayed by a stronger personality;” and (3) “the woman with an exotic richness in her nature” (98), and that “Young Goodman Brown” has in Faith “cheerfulness, prettiness, and a simple-minded domesticity” (99). So this categorizes her under type (1). Goody Cloyse may be a type (2). In “Young Goodman Brown” the references to abortion and euthanasia refer to types (1) and (2) in my judgment.

 

In Salem village that fateful night when the young Puritan husband was departing home for the night, he exchanged “a parting kiss with his young wife.” From this we can conclude that he had a basic respect for her feelings(?) The wind was playing with “the pink ribbons of her cap.” Literary critic Wagenknecht surveys some of the critical interpretation relative to these ribbons:

 

Mathews finds the pastel of infancy in pink, but since pink is a color intermediate between red and white, William V. Davis prefers to take it as suggesting “neither total depravity nor innocence” but “the tainted innocence, the spiritual imperfection of mankind,” a view shared, up to a point, by Robinson. . . . (62).

 

 So the critics would have us believe that the author is making a statement here: that seemingly good Faith is not all that good, based on...


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 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Complete Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc.,1959. 247-56.

 

Lang, H.J.. “How Ambiguous is Hawthorne?” 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.

 

Martin, Terence “Six Tales.” In Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Twayne Publishers Inc., 1965.

 

Stewart, Randall. “Hawthorne’s Female Characters.” 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.

 

 

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Bad Women in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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