Interpretive Differences of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

Interpretive Differences of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

Length: 400 words (1.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Young Goodman Brown - Interpretive Differences

Young Goodman Brown, universally acclaimed as one of Hawthorne's best short stories, presents the student searching out its meaning with not only several possibilities but several rather ambiguous ones. D. M. McKeithan, in an article entitled " 'Young Goodman Brown': An Interpretation" (Modern Language Notes, 67 [1952], 93), has listed the suggestions that have been advanced as "the theme" of the story: "the reality of sin, the pervasiveness of evil, the secret sin and hypocrisy of all persons, the hypocrisy of Puritanism, the results of doubt or disbelief, the devastating effects of moral scepticism . . . the demoralizing effects of the discovery that all men are sinners and hypocrites." Admittedly, these themes are not as diverse as they might at first appear. They are, with the possible exception of the one specifically mentioning Puritanism, quite closely related. But meaning is not restricted to theme, and there are other ambivalences in the story that make its meanings both rich and elusive. After taking into account some matters of text and genre, we shall look at "Young Goodman Brown" from our traditional approaches.

Textually, "Young Goodman Brown," first published in 1835 in the New England Magazine, presents relatively few problems. Obsolete words in the story like "wot'st" (know), "Goody" (Goodwife, or Mrs.), "Goodman" (Mr.) are defined in most desk dictionaries, and none of the other words has undergone radical semantic change. Nevertheless, as we have seen, although a literary work may have been written in a day when printing had reached a high degree of accuracy, a perfect text is by no means a foregone conclusion. With Hawthorne, as with other authors, scholars are constantly working on more accurate texts.

For example, the first edition of this handbook used a version of "Young Goodman Brown" that contained at least two substantive variants. About three-fourths of the way through the story the phrase "unconcerted wilderness" appeared. David Levin, in an article entitled "Shadows of Doubt: Specter Evidence in Hawthorne's 'Young Goodman Brown'" (American Literature, 34 [November 1962], 346, n.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Interpretive Differences of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown." 17 Jul 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Scarlet Letter: Compare and Contrast

- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is one of the most respected and admired novels of all time. Often criticized for lacking substance and using more elaborate camera work, freely adapted films usually do not follow the original plot line. Following this cliché, Roland Joffe’s version of The Scarlet Letter received an overwhelmingly negative reception. Unrealistic plots and actions are added to the films for added drama; for example, Hester is about to be killed up on the scaffold, when Algonquin members arrive and rescue her....   [tags: nathaniel hawthorne]

Research Papers
1022 words (2.9 pages)

Lt. Jimmy Cross and Young Goodman Brown Unexpected Changes Essay examples

- Often stories are magical and uplifting. Yet just as often, tales are tragic, downtrodden, or simply realistically portrayed. Also, on rare occasions, stories are a conglomerate of devices, messages, and harrowing trials that give a little of everything while continuing on in an almost certainly volatile direction. There are two such stories, by two different authors, which utilize this style. In, “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien, there begins a seemingly innocent portrayal of protagonist Lt....   [tags: Tim O’Brien, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Things They ]

Research Papers
887 words (2.5 pages)

Struggles for Release Essay

- The two American short stories, “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne both portrays a similar theme. The two protagonists in both short stories suffer mental or emotional torture and was trap in a literary cage. In addition, both characters in the stories meet death in the end, and that death symbolizes their freedom from the world and society that was grasping on to them. A main topic of American short stories that constantly shows up since the earlier years, and is presented throughout history is the emphasis on society and how it creates emotional and mental tortures in an individual, and imparts them with a different perspective of the wo...   [tags: Comparative, Kate Chopin, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
2182 words (6.2 pages)

Famous American Authors: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nathanial Hawthorne

- The period of the late eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth was cosidered the Romantic era in Europe and in America. This movement was a large scale rebellion against the Englightment period ideas where science and logic ruled the literary arts. Authors took several approaches on how to convey to the readers social and metaphysical opinions through the tone in a series of novels published. Tone is apparent in much of the American Romantic era writing including that of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathanial Ha]

Research Papers
567 words (1.6 pages)

Hawthorne: Experiments Gone Wrong Essay

- Nathaniel Hawthorne is an author whose major fiction writing has influenced the literary world greatly during the course of the nineteenth century. His work during the Romantic period represents his world view through a specific style of writing. While his literature is particularly dark in tone, his short stories show a variety of symbols, themes, and characters. “The Minister’s Black Veil,” “The Birthmark,” and “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” are three of Hawthorne’s short stories that illustrate the similar and different nuances in tone and meaning seen in his writing....   [tags: Literature]

Research Papers
1864 words (5.3 pages)

Hawthorne's Brilliant Mind Essay

- Whenever reading a short story or novel, sometimes many questions pop into the mind wanting to know why the author writes in that particular fashion. In each circumstance, every author has a motivation that fuels them into their writing styles. For Nathaniel Hawthorne, influences came from every direction. Born from a puritan father, Hawthorne was always taught that god was the number one priority in his life. That he should always follow the rules and live without guilt or sin. When his father died at age 4, Hawthorne became increasingly interested in literature and was inspired by Spenser, Bunyan, and Shakespeare (Pennel 2)....   [tags: Literary Analysis ]

Research Papers
1757 words (5 pages)

Essay about Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

- Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown      In Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the tale of a man and his discovery of evil. Hawthorne’s primary concern is with evil and how it affects Young Goodman Brown. Through the use of tone and setting, Hawthorne portrays the nature of evil and the psychological effects it can have on man. He shows how discovering the existence of evil brings Brown to view the world in a cynical way. Brown learns the nature of evil and, therefore, feels surrounded by its presence constantly....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Brown Essays]

Research Papers
1846 words (5.3 pages)

Young Goodman Faust Essay

- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s version of the Faust Legend in the works of “Young Goodman Brown” is considered to be a significantly different version when compared to the common Faust Legend. The article that I found discussing this subject is, The Rewriting of the Faust Myth in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “Young Goodman Brown.” By Hubert Zapf. A brief summery as to what this essay is about, Zapf’s entire thesis is filled with information and facts that all leads up to the analyzing of the common use and application of the Faust legend in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “Young Goodman Brown”, and how it compares in contrast to other “Faust users”....   [tags: knowledge, faith, satan]

Research Papers
776 words (2.2 pages)

Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

- Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown      Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes symbolism throughout his short story Young Goodman Brown to impact and clarify the theme of good people sometimes doing bad things. Hawthorne uses a variety of light and dark imagery, names, and people to illustrate irony and different translations. Young Goodman Brown is a story about a man who comes to terms with the reality that people are imperfect and flawed and then dies a bitter death from the enlightenment of his journey through the woods....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Essays]

Research Papers
1272 words (3.6 pages)

Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne contains much symbolism. The symbols take many forms from the setting to the characters. The symbols can be viewed as just part of the story line, but apon further thought they represent many different things. Faith, Brown’’s wife, is a symbol herself. When he says, ““My love and my Faith,”” he is using his wife as a symbol and is really referring to his love and faith in God. He goes on to say ““this one night I must tarry away from thee.”” He means that he must part from his faith in God to carry on with his journey....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Free Essays
700 words (2 pages)

Related Searches

8) points out that nineteen years after Hawthorne's death, an edition of the story by George P. Lathrop printed "unconverted" for the first time: Every version before that, including Hawthorne's last revision, had had "unconverted." In that same paragraph the first edition of this handbook printed "figure" as opposed to "apparition," the word that Levin tells us, occurred in the first published versions of the story. Obviously, significant interpretive differences could hinge on which words are employed in these contexts.
Return to