On Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”
In this essay, I will examine Hawthorne’s use of tone, allegory and biblical allusions and discuss how it serves to highlight that even the most upright person can be corrupted by evil.
In “Young Goodman Brown”, Hawthorne’s tone is confused as he is trying to figure out what and who exactly he is seeing and hearing at a gathering that is thought to be evil. “ “Of the two, reverend Sir,” said the voice like the deacon’s,”. In this phrase, the use of the word ‘like’ shows that Brown finds it hard to believe that it is the deacon he is hearing. Although it was clear that he saw the deacon beside the minister, Brown still refuses to believe what he is seeing and hearing as he has always put the deacon on a pedestal and regarded him as someone religious. Hawthorne also writes that the voices were “talking so strangely in the empty air”, no church had ever been built, nor did any Christian ever pray in the forest. The word ‘strangely’ further tells the reader that Brown finds that the scene which was unfolding before his eyes was surreal and was confused as he does not know what exactly is happening. The fact that he is actually comparing the forest to a place where there is a church and Christians praying tells us that he does not understand why he is seeing the people who are religious in his eyes at a last place he would expect god-fearing and religious people to be – the devil’s place. The use of Hawthorne’s confused tone and the choice of words tells the reader that Brown is naive and innocent as he did not think that even man who has been on the right path may stray one day.
Hawthorne also uses allegory to heighten the irony that the deep forest which represents evil is visited by the seemingly good men. The greatest irony of it all is the fact that these good men are actually the followers of the devil. This may be seen in Hawthorne’s description of the men as ‘holy’ and that they are journeying...
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