Goodman Brown -vs- Roderick Usher

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To compare Young Goodman Brown in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" with Roderick Usher from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," one must first understand the motivating factor each man has of the world around him and how they react to that world. Both Brown and Usher suffer from disillusionment and an emotional seperation from family due to a traumatic experience they were unable or unwilling to recover from, thereby tarnishing their lust for life. Neither man is able to rise above the feelings that resulted from these occurrences. Although Usher and Brown are two different men, they fear the same thing, death. Usher had an irrational fear of death itself, whereas Brown was afraid of falling victim to sin and burn in Hell for all eternity.

Young Goodman Brown is a true Puritan, motivated by his faith. Brown is innocent and somewhat naive in his view of the world around him. He partakes of a journey through the dark woods one night with a man presumed to be the devil himself. This experience awakens him to the abundance of deceit and sinful behavior of not only those he once respected but his family as well. While discussing Brown's solid christian family history, the stranger comments "I have been as well acquainted with your family as ever a one among the Puritans" (391). Brown realizes that even good christian men and women fall to the temptation of sin. However, knowing this does not lessen the fear and shame he feels that he himself might also succumb to sin before the sun rises.

With Roderick Usher, he is motivated by the overwhelming sense of entrapment his fear of dying holds over him. It is clear Usher suffers from severe mental anxiety, thus warping his perception of reality. His irrational behavior, as well as the narrator's unease, worsens as the story progresses. What is unclear is the original cause for Usher's intense fears. According to the narrator, Usher views his existence as dark and suffocating, which is...
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