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Irony in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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Irony in “Young Goodman Brown”


        Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale “Young Goodman Brown” is replete, is saturated, with irony. This essay will amply illustrate the validity of this statement.

At the outset of the story a young Puritan husband departs at sunset from his young Puritan wife, “And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.” The author says that Faith is “aptly named,” an ironic statement since she, later in the evening, is being received into the assembly of devil-worshippers as a new convert to the evil group. Not only is her name ironic, but also the description of her as “pretty,” and as wearing “pink ribbons” (an indication of youthful innocence and a cheerful outlook on life). In a futile attempt to persuade Goodman to remain home, Faith says: “A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she's afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!" Her self-description as “afeard of herself” seems ironic since she is not afraid later in the evening to venture into the darkest depth of the forest to indulge in satanic practices.

 

Goodman is just as ironic in his speech as his wife. He trys to assuage Faith’s troubled feelings by saying:

 

"My love and my Faith," replied young Goodman Brown, "of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done 'twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married!"

 

Goodman’s affectionate appelation “my ...


... middle of paper ...


...d a master of this literary device.

 

WORKS CITED

 

 

Benoit, Raymond.  "'Young Goodman Brown': The Second Time Around."  The Nathaniel Hawthorne Review 19 (Spring 1993): 18-21.

 

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

 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” 1835. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/amlit/goodman/goodmantext.html

 

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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