Young Goodman Brown

Young Goodman Brown

Length: 1165 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s unusual story, Young Goodman Brown, is a tale that can be analyzed through many different perspectives. The author uses mystery and bizarre scenarios that create gaps in the plot, leaving the reader asking questions about what the intent of Hawthorne’s style is. To answer these questions, many readers approach the story with a type of critical analysis, such as authorial intention, historical and biographical criticism, mythological and archetypal criticism, or reader response criticism. All may apply to this particular story, depending on the reader.
     Authorial intent criticism is based on the idea that whatever meaning
coming from the passage is none other than what the author intended it to be. This type of approach may be beneficial or may cause more confusion to some readers. If you were to know what the author intended a certain complicated passage to mean, it would be much easier to grasp the meaning of the entire text. There is one problem related to this approach,
however. If the author is not present or has no notes explaining the intention
of a passage, it is impossible to have questions answered. This is the problem that I ran into while reading Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown.
     The plot to Hawthorne’s story is filled with mystery, leaving the
reader questioning certain scenes and acts. For example, the biggest question that I had for Hawthorne was did he intend for Young Goodman Brown’s experience in the forest gathering to be a dream or a hallucination, or was it real? Some students question whether or not the dark traveler who was waiting for Brown was the Devil or was an alter ego for Brown himself. Unfortunately, these are both intent questions that cannot be answered.
     Almost opposite in character is reader response criticism. This is an approach where the reader’s interpretation of the text is how it is supposed to be seen. How the reader responds to actions, conflicts, circumstances, and other gaps left within the story is what makes the plot form. With every different reader, and every different reading, a new plot is formed, and none of these readings are any more correct than the other. It is the methodology and transaction between the reader and the text interpretation that counts, and has nothing to do with the intent of the author. With my questions unanswered about Hawthorne’s intent, I was forced to use reader response and provide my own interpretation.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Young Goodman Brown." 123HelpMe.com. 09 Dec 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=97576>.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Analysis Of The Poem ' Young Goodman Brown ' Essay

- The theme of rebirth is a widely-varying one. It can be a sad, dark rebirth or a beautiful and bright one. Whichever path it takes, this theme follows along a general guideline. It first shows how someone or something is in the beginning, an event that occurs, and how this event changes them. They are reborn into someone or something new. The short stories “Young Goodman Brown,” “Cathedral,” and “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” all share the theme of rebirth. While “Young Goodman Brown” is a dark rebirth, “Cathedral” and “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” have beautiful, bright rebirths....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown, Goodman]

Research Papers
2049 words (5.9 pages)

Essay about The Allegory of Young Goodman Brown

- The Allegory of Young Goodman Brown      Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” is an allegory, though an allegory with deficiencies, with tensions existing between the reader and the story.   Peter Conn in “Finding a Voice in an New Nation” explains Hawthorne’s style of allegorizing and how it creates unwanted tensions for the reader:   He once planned to call a group of his stories “Allegories of the Heart,” and in that unused title he summed up much of his method and his subject....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Research Papers
2230 words (6.4 pages)

The Allegorical Young Goodman Brown Essay

- The Allegorical Young Goodman Brown The story about Young Goodman Brown centers around the allegory of a man pitted against his past and his desires to reach beyond that which his benighted heaven would put before him. The allegory is Christian due to the references in Young Goodman Brown to the devil and Satan; it only seems logical that the crux of the story is based upon the religious imagery of Hawthorne's New England in the times of Salem and active religious strife. The beginning of the story mentions the goodman's wife, Faith....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Free Essays
633 words (1.8 pages)

The Empiricist Journey of Young Goodman Brown Essays

- The Empiricist Journey of Young Goodman Brown       In the late 17th century, John Locke was one of the most influential people of his age. He was a renowned philosopher who established radical ideas about the political, social, and psychological ideals of mankind. One of his philosophical ideas, which he is said to be the founder of, is British Empiricism. This idea holds that "all knowledge is derived from experience whether of the mind or the senses" ("Empiricism" 480). In any man’s life, there arises such a point in time where he comes to the realization that there is a sense of evil in the world....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Research Papers
1607 words (4.6 pages)

Faith in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essays

- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s allegorical story “Young Goodman Brown” is set in Salem, Massachusetts during the late sixteen hundreds in a time of religious hysteria and only a few generations after the infamous witch trials. Although "Young Goodman Brown" is a fictional tale, it is based on the cynical environment of Salem during this time period. The short story is filled with many literary elements, leading you to question what did exactly happen to the main character at the conclusion. When analyzing a story like "Young Goodman Brown", one must recognize that the story is at whole symbolic....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown Essays]

Research Papers
1120 words (3.2 pages)

Losing Faith in Young Goodman Brown Essay

- Losing Faith in Young Goodman Brown In “Young Goodman Brown,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Goodman Brown is tempted by the evil that surrounds him and he must keep his faith in order to resist it. The use of the events, characters, and symbols throughout the story show that evil is present in the people of the town in which Goodman Brown lives and how Goodman Brown’s faith in them is lost. Humanity is basically flawed and people struggle with making the choice between good and evil. Throughout the story, Goodman Brown is worried about the idea of the townspeople finding out about his meeting with the devil....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Research Papers
774 words (2.2 pages)

Morality and Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

- "Young Goodman Brown" was published in 1835, when Nathaniel Hawthorne was 31 years old. Hawthorne was born and reared in Salem, Massachusetts, a village still permeated by its 17th century Puritanism. When he was four, Hawthorne's father  died, and from that point on he was surrounded mostly by females: two sisters, a maiden aunt, and a retiring mother who was not close to her children. He had little contact with his deceased father's family, but his maternal relatives were supportive and saw to it that he attended college, the first in his family to do so (Turner 33)....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Research Papers
1153 words (3.3 pages)

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne "Young Goodman Brown", by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a story that is thick with allegory. "Young Goodman Brown" is a moral story, which is told through the perversion of a religious leader. In "Young Goodman Brown", Goodman Brown is a Puritan minister who lets his excessive pride in himself interfere with his relations with the community after he meets with the devil, and causes him to live the life of an exile in his own community. "Young Goodman Brown" begins when Faith, Brown's wife, asks him not to go on an "errand"....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Free Essays
2423 words (6.9 pages)

Sin in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

- Sin in Young Goodman Brown         "Young Goodman Brown," by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is an excellent short story from the 1800's.  In this short story Hawthorne's main character, Goodman Brown, goes out into the woods with the devil and is tempted by the devil each step of the way.  In "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne uses characters who are leaders of their community and symbolistic settings to show that despite how prominent a person is he or she is capable of evil under the right conditions....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Free Essays
472 words (1.3 pages)

Symbolism in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

- In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" the use of symbols contributes to the development of the story's plot. Symbolism is used as a means to uncover the truth about the characters. The author, in an attempt to manifest the moral aspects of his society, uses many kinds of symbols to support his points. When analyzing an allegory like "Young Goodman Brown", the reader must realize that the story is in its entirety, a symbol. Hawthorne, through his writing is trying to convey the contradicting aspects of the Puritan ideology....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown Essays]

Research Papers
2768 words (7.9 pages)

I personally believe that Brown was dreaming and that he lived his afterlife unhappy for
foolish distrust in his own faith. A reader response critic would tell me that my
interpretation was correct, but only for me. Any other reader would have to have his or her own reaction and own interpretation for it to be reader response. Some authors, like Hawthorne, write so that their intent is to provoke a reader response type of criticism. Reader response and authorial intent approaches may compliment each other, but they are two different ways to read a story.
     Historical background and biographical criticism are almost identical, so they tend to be grouped together. This approach dissects a story by using information taken from the author’s life, or information about the period in which the author lived. Critics believe that particular occurrences in the author’s life have a great influence on the events an author writes about, characters that the author creates, or feelings that their characters experience. An example of historical and biographical criticism from Young Goodman Brown would be both the Salem witch trials, and the questioning of religious beliefs going on around Hawthorne at the time in which he wrote this story. The story is based on Brown going on a "coming of age" journey, where he experiences a questioning in Faith (both literally and figuratively), and comes across a gathering of friends practicing witchcraft. A historical and biographical critic would say that the questioning of Faith and witchcraft are directly influenced by the contemporary concerns happening all around Hawthorne. Mythological and archetypal criticism is used to explain common themes and symbols that come up in stories since the beginning of literature. This approach makes sense of different entities incorporated into the story, such as the color of an object or a character’s appearance and purpose. Explanation of their meanings comes from past stories that force the reader to think a certain way about the object. An example of mythological and archetypal criticism in Young Goodman Brown is the serpentine staff that the unidentified traveler has. Christianity has linked snakes to evil by identifying the devil as a snake in the story of the Garden of Eden. The snake tricks Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. The serpentine staff in Hawthorne’s story seems to be leading Brown into a path that goes against all of his morals. When he follows the serpentine staff into the forest, he comes out a different and hateful man. This could be interpreted that the snake is an archetype for evil.
      Mythological and archetypal criticism is similar to historical criticism in that it uses the past that the reader already knows to convey certain thoughts of meaning to a passage. The Thames River could mean something totally different to a reader who has no knowledge of mythological archetypes about rivers, or no historical knowledge of events that
happened on the river. With using the two approaches, the reader could both to say that the river stands for death and rebirth, and that the Thames was the river that sailors would sail down heading for a new land, leaving their old home behind.
     Authorial intent works with almost all of the other criticisms. It is the author who gets to decide which way to sway the reader through certain passages. They can point the reader in a mythological and archetypal direction, they could use events in their own life to tell a personal experience, and they can even force the reader to struggle enough to
use their own reader response criticism.
     The type of response that reader criticism gets is determined by their knowledge of all of the other approaches. If I read Young Goodman Brown and know about certain archetypes, I will be reading the story both archetypally and through reader response. It is easy to use reader response with another type of analysis together because it is the reader’s decision that is right.
     Personally, I have a hard time using just reader response criticism because most of the time I read stories thinking that there is a right way and a wrong way to read it, when reader response would say that any way is the correct way. I enjoy using archetypes and historical background to decipher what the author is intending for a certain symbol. It makes me feel like I understand what they were thinking when they wrote the selected reading. Stories would be boring if authors did not include gaps for analysis, especially a story such as Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown.
Return to 123HelpMe.com