Essay PreviewMore ↓
Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living” state that “’Young Goodman Brown’ uses the background of witchcraft to explore uncertainties of belief that trouble a man’s heart and mind” (31). Are these critics’ statement correct? This essay will examine Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” to determine the conflict, climax and resolution.
The conflict between pride and humility is the direction that Clarice Swisher in “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography” tends: Hawthorne himself was preoccupied with the problems of evil, the nature of sin, the conflict between pride and humility” (13). There is little doubt about the pride of the protagonist as he scolds his wife for not fully trusting him: "’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 looking at the end of the tale, perhaps it his Goodman’s pride which causes him to live the rest of his days in gloom; the opposite virtue of humility might ease his adjustment into a world of sinners.
Gloria C. Erlich in “The Divided Artist and His Uncles” says that “he let his more extravagant characters test the unlimited for him and sadly concluded that it was unlivable” (38). Stanley T. Williams in “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind” states: “What he wrote of . . . . unforgettable case histories of men and women afflicted by guilt, or, as he called it, by “a stain upon the soul” (43). Sculley Bradley, Richmond Croom Beatty and E. Hudson Long in “The Social Criticism of a Public Man” state: “He was absorbed by the enigmas of evil and of moral responsibility” (47).
Using an assortment of literary critical opinion, this reader considers that the central conflict in the tale is an internal one - the conflict in the mind and soul of Goodman Brown between joining the ranks of the devil, and remaining a morally good person, and the extension of this conflict to the world at large represented by the villagers of Salem.
It is a difficult personal journey for Young Goodman Brown, a young Puritan resident of Salem, Massachusetts, in the 1600’s to say goodbye to Faith on that fateful night and to keep a prior commitment made with an evil character (the devil) in the woods.
How to Cite this Page
"Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown – Conflict, Climax, Resolution." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Aug 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Central Conflict, Climax and Resolution in “Young Goodman Brown” This essay will analyze Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” to determine the central conflict in the tale, its climax and partial resolution, using the essays of literary critics to help in this interpretation. In my opinion, the central conflict in the tale is an internal one - the conflict in Goodman Brown between joining the ranks of the devil and remaining good, and the extension of this conflict to the world at large represented by the villagers of Salem. It is a difficult personal journey for Young Goodman Brown, a young Puritan resident of Salem, Massachusetts, in the 1600’s to say goodbye to Fa... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
1706 words (4.9 pages)
- “Young Goodman Brown” – Conflict, Climax, Resolution Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living” state that “’Young Goodman Brown’ uses the background of witchcraft to explore uncertainties of belief that trouble a man’s heart and mind” (31). Are these critics’ statement correct? This essay will examine Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” to determine the conflict, climax and resolution. The conflict between pride and humility is the direction that Clarice Swisher in “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography” tends: Hawthorne himself was preoccupied with the problems of evil, the nature of sin, the conflict between pride and humility” (13... [tags: Free Essay Writer]
2070 words (5.9 pages)
- Symbolizing Hawthorne’s View of Human Nature Salem, Massachusetts in 1835 was home to a community of Puritans, a sect of Calvinists. This was during the American Romanticism period when human nature was to be embraced as a good, natural thing like a sign from God. Nathaniel Hawthorne went against this, saying that humans are not perfect, so their nature should not be embraced. He wrote Young Goodman Brown in 1835. Similar to his other works, this short story has themes of sin, hypocrisy, and flawed humanity.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Allegory]
1339 words (3.8 pages)
- The Themes in “Young Goodman Brown” In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” the reader finds several themes. These will be discussed in this essay. Morse Peckham in “The Development of Hawthorne’s Romanticism” explains what he interprets Hawthorne’s main theme to be: Once the self has been redeemed from society it can be explored in its own terms, and for this purpose Hawthorne developed his peculiar use of emblematic allegory. . . . This technique, though Hawthorne’s is different from that of European writers, creates analogies between self and not-self, between personality and the worlds.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
3165 words (9 pages)
- The Theme of Young Goodman Brown This essay intends to develop an interpretation of the theme of “Young Goodman Brown”. To come by a clear notion of the theme of “Young Goodman Brown” is no easy task, thanks to the confusing style of the author. As A.N. Kaul says in the “Introduction” to Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays: Because Hawthorne was much given to evasions, mystifications, and prevarications of various sorts, because he repeatedly confuses the issues by shying sway from them, because he often talks of his fiction in terms of misty legends and faded blooms, because, in short, he seems frequently to disclaim his own vital interests, we must take c... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
2293 words (6.6 pages)
- Analysis of Young Goodman Brown "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathanial Hawthorne is a short story that is very interesting, as well as entertaining. This essay will first provide a brief summary of the story, followed by an analysis of the importance of symbolism. The nature of evil will then be discussed as it relates to the control of the mind of a once naive and innocent goodman Brown. The climax of the story will be analyzed and the evil within this passage will be discussed and related to the final downfall of goodman Brown.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
1515 words (4.3 pages)
- “Young Goodman Brown” – Theme The themes in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” are not as obvious as might be expected. This essay intends to present an interpretation of the tale along the lines of theme. In reading Hawthorne’s tales, Herman Melville in “Hawthorne and His Mosses” (in Literary World, August 17, 24, 1850) makes discoveries relevant to the themes: Where Hawthorne is known, he seems to be deemed a pleasant writer, with a pleasant style,--a sequestered, harmless man, from whom any deep and weighty thing would hardly be anticipated:--a man who means no meanings.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
3033 words (8.7 pages)
- Structure of “Young Goodman Brown” “Almost all literary theorists since Aristotle have emphasized the importance of structure, conceived in diverse ways, in analyzing a work of literature” (Abrams 300). This essay will explore some interesting points in the structure of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” considering the time-frame, foreshadowing, suspenseful incidents, climax and denouement (Axelrod 337). The narrative in this tale is straightforward until the narrator, late in the story, asks the reader: "Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest, and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?” This query gives the reader the option of believing that the story... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
1225 words (3.5 pages)
- Characterization in “Young Goodman Brown” The dialogue, action and motivation revolve about the characters in the story (Abrams 32-33). It is the purpose of this essay to demonstrate the types of characters present in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” whether static or dynamic, whether flat or round, and whether protrayed through showing or telling. There are only three well-developed, or three dimensional characters, in this short story, and they are the protagonist, Goodman Brown, and his wife, Faith, and the fellow-traveller or the devil.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
2772 words (7.9 pages)
- In 1835, Nathaniel Hawthorne published the tale of “Young Goodman Brown,” a tale that illustrates many configurations of symbolism used to leave the reader planting the pieces together through his characteristics of detail and imagery. Hawthorne’s prime analogy expressed throughout this tale is the loss of vulnerability and pureness when reaching maturity. The setting of Young Goodman Brown is in Salem, where the Salem witch craft trials were held in the 1600’s. This is the first symbol Hawthorne uses throughout the story as a test of who is innocent at this present time and who is not just as they did during the witch trials.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown, 2014]
558 words (1.6 pages)
This interpretation of the central conflict differs from that offered by Terence Martin in Nathaniel Hawthorne:
His journey into the forest is best defined as a kind of general, indeterminate allegory, representing man’s irrational drive to leave faith, home, and security temporarily behind, for whatever individual reason, and to take a chance with one more errand onto the wilder shores of experience (92).
Goodman Brown knows that this rendezvous is morally wrong, and yet he somehow psychologically excuses himself – he rationalizes – and continues with the “errand”. While enroute to the site of the coven with his elderly travelling companion, Brown must decide, before he becomes part of the Black Sabbath, if his true desire lies in the dark depth of the woods, the land of evil, or if it lies in the innocence of simple homelife which he has heretofore enjoyed in Salem village. During the long walk to the site, Brown has many occasions to turn around, forsake his evil inclinations, and return to Faith, but each time his own curiosity, or the magic of the evil companion, or finally his lack of faith in his wife’s resolve towards good – causes him to experience great internal conflict between good and bad considerations, and to stay his course all the way to the very heart of the forest. The setting of the winding, long, journey through the woods gives ample time for this inner conflict to build within the protagonist. R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Time: Hawthorne” states: For Hawthorne, the forest was neither the proper home of the admirable Adam, as with Cooper; nor was it the hideout of the malevolent adversary. . . . It was the ambiguous setting of moral choice” (74-75).
Weakened in faith by the suspicious encounters with Goody Cloyse, Deacon Gookin and the village minister, Brown laments the loss of his Faith after recognizing one of her pink ribbons; he becomes more evilly inclined and begins to rant:
"Ha! ha! ha!" roared Goodman Brown, when the wind laughed at him. "Let us hear which will laugh loudest! Think not to frighten me with your deviltry! Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powow, come devil himself! and here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you!"
With these words Goodman ranks himself among the evil figures in his mind, having totally lost the inner, personal conflict with evil; so it would seem for the present anyway. The good within him, his faith, has suffered a devastating blow, and evil has replaced it. Leavis: As he loses his belief in the reality of virtue in others the scene grows increasingly sinister” (36).
When he reaches the site of the coven, it is obvious to Brown that the world-at-large has already forsaken good for evil, as he has strongly suspected from his observations while en route:
Among them, quivering to and fro, between gloom and splendor, appeared faces that would be seen, next day, at the council-board of the province, and others which, Sabbath after Sabbath, looked devoutly heavenward, and benignantly over the crowded pews, from the holiest pulpits in the land. Some affirm, that the lady of the governor was there. At least, there were high dames well known to her, and wives of honored husbands, and widows, a great multitude, and ancient maidens, all of excellent repute, and fair young girls, who trembled lest their mothers should espy them. Either the sudden gleams of light, flashing over the obscure field, bedazzled Goodman Brown, or he recognized a score of the church-members of Salem village, famous for their especial sanctity. Good old Deacon Gookin had arrived, and waited at the skirts of that venerable saint, his reverend pastor.
The climax of the story occurs when Goodman and Faith look into each other’s face:
The husband cast one look at his pale wife, and Faith at him. What polluted wretches would the next glance show them to each other, shuddering alike at what they disclosed and what they saw!
Fortunately, before Goodman and Faith have the baptismal fluid poured over their heads, the husband says: "Faith! Faith!" cried the husband. "Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!"
And Goodman (and probably Faith) is saved from conversion to the Evil One. To the objective observer Faith’s non-conversion is apparent because the next day, when Goodman wanders from the woods into Salem, Faith comes to him so exuberantly and innocently:
Turning the corner by the meeting-house, he spied the head of Faith, with the pink ribbons, gazing anxiously forth, and bursting into such joy at sight of him, that she skipt along the street, and almost kissed her husband before the whole village. But Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting.
In upholding the innocence of both Goodman and Faith, I am in agreement with literary critic Edward Wagenknecht in Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Man, His Tales and Romances:
. . . again, though I believe firmly in Faith’s innocence (her allegoricl significance vanishes, and her whole role in her husband’s life after his return from the forest makes no sense upon any other hypothesis), I must still ask, why, then, did Hawthorne make her say at the very beginning that “a lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she is afraid of herself sometimes. Pray tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year”? How did she know that there was any special peril connected with this night? And why should she have any doubt that “you will find all well when you come back”? What I am trying to say is that “Young Goodman Brown” resembles Hamlet in that whatever explanation of the problems involved one may adopt, he will have no trouble in finding some passage or passages that may seem to contradict what he believes (57-58).
“But Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting.” This is indicative of the deep scar, the cynicism, which the night’s experience in the forest has made on the husband; which he retains for the rest of his life. Kaul says: “He [Hawthorne] was deeply preoccupied with the modern themes of alienation, isolation, and guilt consciousness” (2).
His isolation (“A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man, did he become, from the night of that fearful dream.”), his cold relationship with his wife and family (“Often, awaking suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith, and at morning or eventide, when the family knelt down at prayer, he scowled, and muttered to himself, and gazed sternly at his wife, and turned away.”), and the absence of an inscription on his tombstone attest to this (“they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom.”).
It is obvious that there is no total, complete resolution of the conflict in this story, since the protagonist remained at war within himself until his death. Leavis says:Hawthorne has imaginatively recreated for the reader that Clavinist sense of sin. . . . Young Goodman Brown’s Faith is not faith in Christ but faith in human beings, and losing it he is doomed to isolation forever” (37). Though he apparently adjusts to Faith and to Salem to the extent that he is able to live with both, he nevertheless has lost the inner peace and innocence he possessed prior to the intrusion of evil into his life. R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Rime: Hawthorne” states: Finally, it was Hawthorne who saw in American experience the re-creation of the story of Adam and who . . . exploited the active metaphor of the American as Adam – before and during and after the Fall” (72).
Bradley, Sculley, Richmond Croom Beatty and E. Hudson Long. “The Social Criticism of a Public Man.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Erlich, Gloria C. “The Divided Artist and His Uncles.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Fuller, Edmund and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
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.
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.
Martin, Terence. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Twayne Publishers Inc., 1965.
Swisher, Clarice. “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography.” 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.
Williams, Stanley T. “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.