English Honors Period 5
A Most Disturbing Dream
Ever since 1835, the publication date of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” scholars have debated a seemingly simple question: “Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch- meeting?” (Hawthorne 9). However, the question is not as simple as it would seem, for each answer has many implications. If all the people in the town actually worship the devil, then all humans are basically bad, and there is no hope for the human race. If the “witch- meeting” is a dream, then the story is implying many ideas about the balance of good and evil. Upon investigation into story, one will conclude that Young Goodman Brown had a dream and did not see a “witch- meeting.”
There is much evidence to support the claim that Brown had a dream of a “witch- meeting,” and did not actually see people worshiping the devil. In the story, supernatural elements only appear in the dream: “He [the devil] threw it [his staff] down at her feet, where, perhaps, it assumed life, being one of the rods which its owner had formerly lent to the Egyptian magi” (Hawthorne 4). Because supernatural elements only appear in the dream, it can be concluded that the world in which the story takes place is realistic and has no form of magic in it. Therefore, the events in the dream are impossible. Hawthorne’s writing style during Young Goodman Brown’s interactions with the forest further strengthen the claim that what Brown saw during his walk in the forest were part of his dream. During Brown’s dream, Hawthorne’s writing style becomes more whimsical and less cemented in reality: “He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind.” (Hawthorne 1). In dreams, inanimate objects often assume living characteristics. By making the forest seem alive,...
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