Character Comparison of “Young Goodman Brown” and the “Lottery”
Professor Katie Robinson
July 15, 2012
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's “Young Goodman Brown” and Shirley Jackson's “The Lottery”, we are given a picture of seemingly normal people who are capable of incredible evil.
Opening mood in both stories a. Goodman Brown's sets out on a walk in the forest, but knows that evil awaits him. b. The townspeople act nonchalant, but pile up stones and behave with nervous tension.
Action of characters a. The characters were influenced by their ancestors and peers, and did not follow their convictions. b. They were unwilling to step out
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The downfall of Goodman Brown is his incorrect assumption that he can dabble in sin yet overcome it. It is clear what he is getting into, as his meeting with the Devil in the forest is prearranged. He tells the old traveler that by meeting him, he is keeping his end of the “covenant” they agreed on. Young Goodman Brown knows with whom he is dealing, but deliberately pursues an errand he knows is evil. He acknowledges a “guilty purpose” brings him into the forest. Goodman Brown puts on an air of faith, but doubt creeps in when, one by one, he sees the people he looks up to commit evil deeds. When Goodman Brown finally reaches the center of the forest, to the nefarious ceremony the story is centered around, he tries to resist and save himself and his wife. We do not know the exact outcome, but we do know that because of his willingness to progress down the path of sin, Goodman Brown's life is ruined. Jackson and Hawthorne both paint their characters as normal people involved in vile, wicked deeds. They see men as inherently evil, fallen, and sinful. Or perhaps, at the very least,
Speakman 3 unwilling to break from their traditions for the sake of what is right. In “The Lottery”, it is apparent that change needs to be