Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown” manifests a duality of conflict – both an external conflict and an internal conflict. It is the purpose of this essay to explore both types of conflict as manifested in the story.
In the opening lines of the tale there is a compulsion, representing internal conflict, indicated on the part of both the protagonist and his wife Faith:
"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!"
And Faith, hopeful that the compulsion will not get the best of her during the night, responds:
"Then God bless you!" said Faith, with the pink ribbons, "and may you find all well, when you come back."
Q.D. Leavis says in “Hawthorne as Poet” that “It is a journey he takes under compulsion, and it should not escape us that she tries to stop him because she is under a similar compulsion to go on a ‘journey’ herself” (36). So the main male and female characters are manifesting similar compulsions toward evil against which they must struggle. And these are the main in...
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...ung Goodman Brown.” And both strands come together at the baptismal ceremony at the climax of the story where Goodman resolves his conflicts favorably.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” 1835. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/amlit/goodman/goodmantext.html
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.
Wagenknecht, Edward. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Man, His Tales and Romances. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1989.
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