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The Powerful Settings of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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The Powerful Settings of Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown


Setting can be a powerful literary device, and Nathaniel Hawthorne wields it to great effect. There are four major settings in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” and they all take place in Salem. This essay is an examination of those settings and their effects.

The tale opens in a doorway as the reader is presented with two lovers saying goodbye. The two lovers are Goodman Brown, who is eager to leave for his adventure; and his wife Faith Brown, who is desperately trying to dissuade him from leaving the house tonight. In this setting, the main elements induce feelings that are positive, bright, and hopeful – a sunset, a familiar street and home, and the pink ribbons in Faith’s cap.

Goodman’s positive setting doesn’t last very long, however. As he walks down the street past the meeting house, his surroundings undergo a drastic change. Goodman’s path takes him onto a "dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind."”His new se...


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...ne Review 19 (Spring 1993): 18-21.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Complete Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc.,1959.

The Holy Bible, King James Version-Old and New Testaments, with the Apocrypha  http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/kjv.browse.html

James, Henry. Hawthorne. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.

Martin, Terence. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Twayne Publishers Inc., 1965.

Wagenknecht, Edward. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Man, His Tales and Romances. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1989.


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