What Romantic elements can be compared in "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Tell-Tale Heart"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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These are two excellent works to compare whilst focusing on Romanticism and to help you I have added the links to the enotes study guide for both of them below.

It is important to remember that the Romanticism that Hawthorne and Poe ascribed to was slightly different from that of Emerson and Thoreau. Hawthorne and Poe were "Dark Romantics," which referred to the way in which they focused on the mystical and melancholy aspects of Puritan thought. The focus of the literature produced by such Dark Romantics was the conflict between good and evil, the psychological effects of guilt and sin, and madness in the human psyche. Dark Romantics really tried to expose the sinful human nature that lies behind our respectable social masks.

Thus it is that "Young Goodman Brown" is all about the way in which fine, upstanding members of the community of which Goodman Brown is a part are shown to have a relationship with the Devil. Even the deacon and the pastor are not immune from this, and of course, the story at its climax suggests that Faith, Goodman Brown's young youthful and loving wife, herself has a relationship with the Devil. Thus Hawthorne suggests that there is an evil side to all of us, and Goodman Brown is left a crushed individual as a result.

In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe explores the human psyche by focusing on a narrator who is clearly insane, in spite of his protestations to the contrary. Yet through his narrative Poe presents us with an incredible picture of insanity and evil as the narrator kills a man for the most ridiculous of reasons, and then, it is suggested, is compelled to reveal himself because of the guilt he feels.

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