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Characterization in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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    This essay will demonstrate the types of characters present in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” whether static or dynamic, whether flat or round, and whether protrayed through showing or telling.

 

R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Rime: Hawthorne” states: “… there is always more to the world in which Hawthorne’s characters move than any one of them can see at a glance” (77). This is especially true with such flat or two-dimensional characters as are generally found in “Young Goodman Brown.” These type characters are built on a “single idea or quality” and are presented without much “individualizing detail” (Abrams 33). Faith, of course, represents or symbolizes the theological virtue of faith; Goody Cloyse, as a catechism teacher, represents “goodness”; the unnamed fellow-traveller in the woods is symbolic of “evil.” Q. D. Leavis explains this symbolic use of characters: “The first batch of works I specified [including ‘Young Goodman Brown’] is essentially dramatic, its use of language is poetic, and it is symbolic, and richly so, as is the dramatic poet’s. . . Where the “symbol” is the thing itself, with no separable paraphrasable meaning as in an allegory: the language is directly evocative (27).

 

The flat character Faith is not developed like her husband; her dialogue is restricted to the opening few paragraphs. She speaks only four sentences in the entire story:

 

"Dearest heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, "pr'ythee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed tonight. 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 husb...


... middle of paper ...


...ng Goodman Brown.” 1835. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/amlit/goodman/goodmantext.html

 

Kaul, A.N. “Introduction.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

 

Leavis, Q.D. “Hawthorne as Poet.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

 

Lewis, R. W. B. “The Return into Time: Hawthorne.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

 

Swisher, Clarice. “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

 

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


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