Young Goodman Brown And The Tell Tale Heart

Submitted By seanmartinez
Words: 2577
Pages: 11

“Young Goodman Brown,” by Hawthorne, and “The Tell Tale Heart,” by Poe, offer readers the chance to embark on figurative and literal journeys, through our minds and our hearts. Hawthorne is interested in developing a sense of guilt in his story, an allegory warning against losing one’s faith. The point of view and the shift in point of view are symbolic of the darkening, increasingly isolated heart of the main character, Goodman Brown, an everyman figure in an everyman tale. Poe, however, is concerned with capturing a sense of dread in his work, taking a look at the motivations behind the perverseness of human nature. Identifying and understanding the point of view is essential, since it affects a reader’s relationship to the protagonist, but also offers perspective in situations where characters are blinded and deceived by their own faults. The main character of Poe’s story embarks on an emotional roller coaster, experiencing everything from terror to triumph. Both authors offer an interpretation of humans as sinful, through the use of foreshadowing, repetition, symbolism and, most importantly, point of view. Hawthorne teaches the reader an explicit moral lesson through the third person omniscient point of view, whereas Poe sidesteps morality in favor of thoroughly developing his characters in the first person point of view. Third person omniscient point of view, dialogue, and imagery are three literary tools used to reveal the intimate thoughts and feelings of the key characters in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” For example, Faith bids her husband farewell “softly and rather sadly” (Hawthorne 133). The tranquility of her adieu may be clear to the casual observer, but the sad undertones would be much harder to detect, so it is important that the narrator has the ability to go into the head and heart of the characters. Further, dialogue presents the thoughts and feelings of the characters, and we can trust its veracity since the words come directly from the speaker. By examining Faith’s dialogue with her husband, we get a sense of the deeper dread and loneliness she feels, since her husband is traveling towards wickedness. Additionally, the imagery foreshadows the isolation of the young protagonist; starting at sundown, he journeys into darkness, but also towards that which is evil. Turning back to kiss his wife, Goodman Brown prioritizes his journey at the expense of his faith, and foreshadows his dismissal of his faith. There are certain symbols that aid in the development of the moral of the story. First, his wife is symbolic of the old order – his good and moral heart. Goodman Brown says, “Faith kept me back awhile,” meaning that he did not give up his religion easily; it took hesitation and doubt until he could bring himself to justify his means: “making more haste on his present evil purpose”. Here, he deceives himself, thinking that he can be like the unrealistic heathens of the world, and then simply revert back to his Faith, and symbolically, to Heaven. Another important symbol is the wilderness, “where no church has ever been gathered, nor solitary Christian prayed”. Goodman Brown’s fellow-traveler alludes to the devilish dangers of the woods when he says, “My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians”. By refusing to go further into the woods, and exclaiming that his Christian ancestors would never have done so, the fellow-traveler is clearly implying that the woods are an anti-Christian place that is representative of all things evil in this world. Another symbol used throughout the work to connote the fall into wickedness is the fellow-traveler’s staff. When the fellow-traveler asks Goodman Brown to take hold of his staff for support, Goodman Brown’s slowing pace turns into a dead stop. Later, the two men encounter Goody Cloyse; when the staff is touched to this