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Essay on Point of View of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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Point of View of “Young Goodman Brown”    

 
  Point of view is “one of the most prominent and persistent concerns in modern treatments of the art of prose fiction” (Abrams 231). This essay will treat of how the story is told in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” what type of narrator tells it, and through whose perception the reader receives the tale – in other words, the point of view of this short story (Axelrod 336).

 

In this story the mode or point of view by which the author presents the characters, dialogue, actions, etc. is that of a third-person narrator, who uses proper names and third-person pronouns to designate the various characteris in the tale:

 

YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young 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 narrator possesses the capablility of reading the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, the young Puritan husband, Goodman Brown, only among all the characters. As Brown turns the corner at the meeting house, he thinks:

 

"Poor little Faith!" thought he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought, as she spoke, there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But, no, no! 'twould kill her to think 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...


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...ren, a goodly procession, besides neighbors, not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom.

 

It would seem that the narrator becomes omniscient rather than limited in his point of view near the end of the tale.

 

The vital role that point of view plays in “Young Goodman Brown” makes it obvious why Abrams would say that point of view is “one of the most prominent and persistent concerns in modern treatments of the art of prose fiction” (231).

 

WORKS CITED

 

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

 

Axelrod, Rise B. The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing, 2nd ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988.

 

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

 


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