In "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" and "Young Goodman Brown," how is Granny Weatherall like Young Goodman Brown?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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"The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" and "Young Goodman Brown" are antithetical, exact opposites, in all points but two. Katerine Ann Porter writes Granny Weatherall as a complaint against anonymity, against betrayal, against mighty powers abandoning those who rely on them. Her celebration of triumph comes in Granny's statement that she got her husband and children and house just the same, just like other women, even without George.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, on the other hand, writes "Young Goodman Brown" as a moral lesson about the darkness underlying religious fanaticism as exemplified by the Puritans (though religious fanaticism didn't stop with the Puritans). Hawthorne's celebration of triumph against all-pervading evilness disguised as righteousness is in his presentation of one young man willing, at all costs, to say "resist the Devil."

One similarity between the two stories is that Weatherall and Brown both came face to face with unsuspected traits in their loved ones. However, the quality of the surprising traits are not comparable: Weatherall encounters cowardice and weakness, Brown encounters all-pervasive evil. Further, even though their two characters do share the similarity of encounters with unsuspected traits, their names even distinguish the differences in their stories: Weatherall implies just what it says, Granny can weather all--almost all--and Brown is muddied, darkened, stirred, one shade above black dejection.

The other similarity between the stories is that in their last moments on Earth, both Weatherall and Brown are unhappy. Of course, for Brown this unhappiness spans his entire lifetime while for Granny Weatherall, who has weathered all (almost), the moment comes at the very last seconds of her life. Brown discovers that his whole world is a sham of lies and hypocrisy to the worst degree and is forever repelled by those around him (at least he stayed though, he didn't abandon his bride Faith), rightly distrusting and distant from people in league with the Devil.


Weatherall, on the other hand, has a flash of anger and a feeling of rejection and betrayal right before her last breaths. Of course, it is fair to say that, as a Christian, she knew better than to ask God for a sign, so one might say her last moment of disillusionment and anger were her own fault. If one wants to take the symbolism of her name as ironic, one might even say that her final disillusionment and anger were projections of her hidden lifelong feelings. Although the evidence tends to better support the idea that she knew better than to set herself up for anger by asking for a sign.

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