ENGL 102: Composition and Literature
THESIS: In “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, imagery and characterization are employed to illustrate the ever present inner darkness of humanity. However, the authors set very different themes in how their protagonists reflect upon and respond to being faced with it. Both men must choose whether they will reject and confront evil or simply abide it with apathy.
I. The dark imagery used in both stories convert evil into a nearly tangible entity. a. The lack of visibility in these stories corresponds to the fear felt by both men. b. The dense jungle/forest instills a sense of chaos that disallows either man to tread a safe path.
II. The antagonists of these stories are both characterized as incarnate evil, however, each exhibit deceptively likable traits. c. General Zaroff and old Goodman Brown are both very friendly, accommodating, intelligent and well spoken. d. Rainsford and young Goodman Brown are both wooed and encouraged by their respective villains to join them willingly.
III. Rainsford and young Goodman Brown both resist the impending darkness, yet the final disposition of each set very different themes. e. Both men attempt to flee from their dark companions until they realize the futility of their efforts. f. Rainsford is firm in this contempt of the evil presented to him and demonstrates how a person can confront and overcome evil. g. Young Goodman Brown chooses to accept man’s dark nature with a sense of inevitability and malaise.
The Short Story: A Comparison and Contrast of
“Young Goodman Brown” and “The Most Dangerous Game”
In “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, imagery and characterization are employed to illustrate the ever present inner darkness of humanity. However, the authors set very different themes in how their protagonists reflect upon and respond to being faced with it. Both men must choose whether they will reject and confront evil or simply abide it with apathy.
The dark imagery used in both stories gives dread feelings a near tangible quality. The hero’s of both tales are apprehensive of the blackness around them right from the onset; as if they not only sense the danger they are approaching, but can almost feel it as well. Young Goodman Brown begins his trek with a strong feeling of solitude. The inability to see far in front or behind sends him into a fearful rant, “What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!” (Hawthorne, 263) Likewise, the blackness that Sanger Rainsford finds himself in is nearly impenetrable, “‘You’ve good eyes… but even you can’t see four miles or so through a moonless Caribbean night’ said Whitney. ‘Nor four yards,’ admitted Rainsford “. (Connell, 1)
In addition to the lack of visibility, both men find that the respective dense forest or jungle which surrounds them adds to their sense of desperation. Goodman Brown sets off down “…a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through…” (Hawthorne, 263). So precarious is his route that he actually worries about hidden marauders along the way, “There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree” (Hawthorne, 263). Similarly, Rainsford, in his frantic attempts to evade General Zaroff, struggles through the “…trackless wilderness…with hands and face lashed by the branches…” (Connell, 10).
Other than the grave imagery in their surroundings, the villains in these stories are characterized as incarnate evil. However, both old Goodman Brown and General Zaroff are introduced as very likeable fellows. Hawthorne describes young Goodman Brown’s companion, who is later revealed as Lucifer by reference to “his once angelic nature” (270), as one who “would not have felt...