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Hawthorne’s use of the narrator in Young Goodman Brown Essay


In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” the story is informed through the eyes of a limited omniscient third-person narrator. This style is very accommodating to the story due to the fact that it allows the author best opportunities to express his points. The storyteller can both explain what Goodman Brown is doing, and likewise examine and comment on the characters actions. This is a tool of the author to use the narrator to express his own individual beliefs on humanity. The storyteller has the ability of reading the thoughts and sensations of the protagonist, the young Puritan husband, Goodman Brown, only among all the characters.

As Brown turns the corner at the conference home, he thinks:

” ‘Poor little Faith!’ believed he, for his heart smote him. ‘What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! She broaches dreams, too. Methought, as she spoke, there was difficulty in her face, as if a dream had cautioned her what work is to be done tonight. However, no, no! ‘twould kill her to believe it. Well; she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven.’ “

This ability of the narrator is why the story has a restricted perspective, given that it does not use to other characters in the story.

The storyteller is an invasive one who evaluates and talks about the actions and motives of the characters. When Goodman deals with to make this the last time that he ever does such a thing, the narrator evaluates his resolution:

” ‘Well; she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven.’

With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself warranted in making more rush on his present evil purpose.”

This perspective provides Hawthorne a lot more flexibility than a regular third-person narrative. A regular third-person narration would leave no opportunity to include the commentary to the action. Furthermore, it leaves him with the capability to drop in his own ideas on humanity.

“The road grew wilder and drearier, and more faintly traced, and disappeared at length, leaving him in the heart of the dark wilderness, still rushing onward, with the instinct that guides mortal man to evil.”

Similar storyteller comment on the mankind is discovered during Goodman’s same violent reaction to Faith’s evident conversion:

“On he flew, among the black pines, displaying his personnel with crazy gestures, now offering vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now yelling forth such laughter, as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like devils around him. The fiend in his own shape is less horrible, than when he rages in the breast of man.”

Hawthorne continues to utilize the storyteller to talk down on humanity. He points out many references of humanity relating to wicked and committing sin. Another such comment appears after Goodman has actually gotten in the website of the coven:

“Another verse of the hymn developed, a slow and mournful pressure, such as the pious love, but signed up with to words which revealed all that our nature can conceive of sin, and darkly meant far more. Unfathomable to mere mortals is the tradition of fiends.”

Perhaps Hawthorne’s greatest comment comes while the devil speaks from the altar-rock:

“‘Lo! there ye stand, my children,’ stated the figure, in a deep and solemn tone, nearly sad, with its despairing awfulness, as if his when angelic nature could yet mourn for our unpleasant race.”

Whatever that is happening is perceived and interpreted for the reader by the protagonist, up until the end of the tale approaches and the narrator becomes more invasive:

“Had Goodman Brown gone to sleep in the forest, and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?

Be it so, if you will. But, alas! it was a dream of evil prophecy for young Goodman Brown. A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man, did he become … And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave, a hoary remains, followed by Faith, an aged female, and children and grandchildren, a goodly procession, besides neighbors, not a couple of, they sculpted no enthusiastic verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom.”

“Young Goodman Brown” is a prime example of how crucial point of view is. A good author, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, can utilize perspective to manipulate the reader into seeing precisely what he wants to be seen. He told a story, discussed the story, and discussed the human race at the very same time. “Young Goodman Brown” really exemplifies the prominence of perspective in fiction.

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