In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” how does the author present the characters, dialogue, actions, setting and events which comprise the narrative in this short story? This essay will answer these questions.
R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Time: Hawthorne” states that “there is always more to the world in which Hawthorne’s characters move than any one of them can see at a glance” (77). In Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” this fact is especially true since the main character, Goodman Brown, is a naïve hero and since the narrator tells much of the story through the limited point of view of the protagonist.
In this story the author uses a third-person narrator, who uses proper names and third-person pronouns to designate the various characteris in the tale:
YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.
The narrator possesses the capability of reading the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, the young Puritan husband, Goodman Brown, only, from among all the characters. As Brown turns the corner at the meeting house, he thinks:
"Poor little Faith!" thought he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought, as she spoke, there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But, no, no! 'twould kill her to think it. Well; she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I'l...
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...agonist as the character through whom the perceptions of the site are arriving to the reader. This inconsistency of viewpoint within given paragraphs may be a source for ambiguity within the tale.
In conclusion, we have seen how in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” the author presents the characters, dialogue, actions, setting and events which comprise the narrative in this short story, and what may be a source of ambiguity in the tale.
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
Lewis, R. W. B. “The Return into Time: Hawthorne.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
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