Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.
I read quite a few of Hawthorne’s tales and reviewing each of them seems rather tedious, so I’m going to just choose Young Goodman Brown, because it was my favorite of the ones we read.
Goodman Brown says goodbye to his wife, Faith, outside of his house in Salem Village. Faith, wearing pink ribbons in her cap, asks him to stay with her, saying that she feels scared when she is by herself and free to think troubling thoughts. Goodman Brown tells her that he must travel for one night only and reminds her to say her prayers and go to bed early. He reassures her that if she does this, she will come to no harm. Goodman Brown takes final leave of Faith, thinking to himself that she might have guessed the evil purpose of his trip and promising to be a better person after this one night. Where he goes I don’t have the heart to say. It is a huge part of the plot and I don’t want to give it away.
I think this one is my favorite, because I feel like it explored the idea of knowing that people aren’t inherently good. This is a theme that Hawthorne discusses a lot. Herman Melville even wrote about it in his essay “Hawthorne and His Mosses”. Melville called it the “power of darkness”. I think that’s an accurate term for it. Hawthorne has this ability to show that not all people are good, which now seems very over used in literature. At the time Hawthorne was writing, it was very different. Within the tale, he showed what happens when we learn of that evil thing people could be. It was interesting to see Goodman Brown’s expectations and trusting of people once he found everything out. It was definitely an interesting read.