I need help in determining Hawthorne's style in "Young Goodman Brown" through literary devices.
OK, so I'm writing an essay on Friday with the following prompt:
Define, through analysis of its literary devices, the style of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown."
We may use the following, but are not limited to, literary devices:
- choices (faith & innocence ; truth & existentialism)
Now, in accordance with the eNotes policy, I don't want help writing the essay, rather, I would like some help on how I should get started defining Hawthorne's style.
I know that Hawthorne is a "Darker Side" Romantic, so that must have a critical influence. One of my ideas is that Hawthorne portrays his style in YGB to be Romantic through ironic slandering of the "dark" and evil forest the Puritans were so afraid of. Considering the reverence of the natural environment, the Puritans' inherent fear of the devilry that lies beyond the dark and unknown, spawns an ironic contrast of opinions, leading one to criticise the Romantic style.
What do you guys think of that idea?
1 Answer | Add Yours
Well, you have certainly put lots of thought into this! I like your idea, but I am not entirely convinced that this story is a critique of Romanticism by making "the woods" a dangerous place as opposed to the healing place that Romantics would consider it to be. Key to realise about Hawthorne's style is that he writes allegorically very well, and it is obvious that in this tale there are major allegorical references. Just consider some of the names, for instance - Young Goodman Brown seems to be a kind of "Everyman" figure, representative of humans who want one last "fling" with evil before being good and focussing on their faith and religion. Note that he is married to "Faith," whose name tells us what she represents. Key to this allegorical explanation is the fact that it is Faith that tries to argue with Goodman Brown at the beginning of the play and asks him to not go out that night. As he leaves, Goodman Brown reflects that he is a "wretch" to leave her behind, and says that after this one night he will stick to her and allow her goodness to carry him to heaven:
Well, she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.
This clearly establishes the allegorical function of Faith.
Therefore you might find it more fruitful to try and expand this analysis of this story as an allegory, thinking about what Hawthorne is trying to say through it. Good luck!
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