3 March 2010
In both, Nathanial Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” the protagonists, Young Goodman Brown and the narrator experience a journey into the subconscious. Both stories have an overlap that blurs the boundaries of reality and fantasy. It is truly the supernatural aspects of these two stories that force the protagonists and the reader to delve into the realm of the subconscious and to scrutinize good versus evil and real versus imaginary.
Both stories have a setting of gloom and foreboding that alludes to where the stories are heading. In Young Goodman Brown, his wife Faith pleads with him to postpone the journey until sunrise. She speaks of dreams and Young Goodman Brown wonders if she has been warned in a dream about his journey that night. Hawthorne uses this dream to preface the story and the reader infers that his journey is sinister in nature. Unlike Hawthorne’s story, Poe’s tale has no such preface. It starts with the journey already underway. Hawthorne’s tale consists mostly of the journey and the nightmarish happenings along the way. Poe’s tale has the gloomy journey taking the narrator to the house of his childhood friend in an attempt to help his friend gain back his health. It is not until once he has reached his destination that his experiences are supernatural in appearance.
In “Young Goodman Brown” it is the journey into the woods that leads Brown into a supernatural experience. It makes Brown fearful of what could be hiding behind any of the trees. He even exclaims, “What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow” (606). It is exactly at this moment that he comes upon the man he has set out to meet. This man remarks how he came from Boston to Salem in fifteen minutes and according to the footnote this signifies supernatural powers as one would not be able to travel...
Cited: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter 7th ed. Ed. Nina Baym. New York & London: Norton. 605-614
Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter 7th ed. Ed. Nina Baym. New York & London: Norton. 689-701
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