External And Internal Conflict In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1602 words - 6 pages

External and Internal Conflict in “Young Goodman Brown”      

 
  Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown” manifests a duality of conflict – both an external conflict and an internal conflict. It is the purpose of this essay to explore both types of conflict as manifested in the story.

 

In the opening lines of the tale there is a compulsion, representing internal conflict, indicated on the part of both the protagonist and his wife Faith:

 

"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 husband, of all nights in the year!"

 

"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!"

 

And Faith, hopeful that the compulsion will not get the best of her during the night, responds:

 

"Then God bless you!" said Faith, with the pink ribbons, "and may you find all well, when you come back."

 

Q.D. Leavis says in “Hawthorne as Poet” that “It is a journey he takes under compulsion, and it should not escape us that she tries to stop him because she is under a similar compulsion to go on a ‘journey’ herself” (36). So the main male and female characters are manifesting similar compulsions toward evil against which they must struggle. And these are the main internal conflicts in the story.  The other characters in the tale have already capitulated or given in to this conflict in their own lives.

 

En route to the site of the coven Brown learns from the evil fellow-traveler just how compelled to evil his forbears had been, and they had lost the internal fight against evil:

 

"Such company, thou wouldst say," observed the elder person, interrupting his pause. "Well said, Goodman Brown! I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and that's no trifle to say. I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem. And it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip's War. They were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight. I would fain be friends with you, for their sake."

 

Shortly thereafter Goodman is shown this internal struggle as it applies to Goody Cloyse, his old catechism teacher who has lost the battle and practices witchcraft and is presently en route to the witch-meeting. And immediately...

Find Another Essay On External and Internal Conflict in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

Faith in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1113 words - 4 pages his neighbors and Faith the way he used to, symbolic of how Faith (both physically and spiritually) is so distant from him now. Brown disconnects himself from society as a whole as his vision of society being pure has been shattered. The central theme of “Young Goodman Brown,” is the internal conflict in Goodman Brown between either replacing faith with the worship of the devil or remaining pure. Young Goodman Brown’s personal conflict over his

Self-rejection and Self-damnation in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1304 words - 5 pages Self-rejection and Self-damnation in Young Goodman Brown   In "Young Goodman Brown," the story's protagonist embarks on a metaphorical errand on which he plans to confront the evil within himself. Unprepared to accept this as part of his human nature, he instead rejects it, ultimately prescribing his own doom. The fantastic spirit of Young Goodman's travel is revealed at the story's outset, when he holds an appointment with a

Blind Faith in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

939 words - 4 pages Young Goodman Brown:  Blind Faith Is it possible for a man to be SO hypnotized by faith that he is incapable of apprehending the truth that surrounds him? Yes. The principle of faith centers heavily around the confident belief of an idea set by a person or community. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," the faith of an individual conflicts with the faith of the community. The story takes place during the period where all devoted

Sin in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2509 words - 10 pages ).   While changes to the Catechism would have occurred from the 17th to Hawthorne's own 19th century, the idea that his father's family had wished a proper Puritan education for Hawthorne is an important issue.  To accept as a child that you have in no way sinned but are completely sinful by nature is but one way in which "Young Goodman Brown" speaks out against Puritanism.  As Young Goodman Brown witnesses the exchange between the “devil” and Goody

Morality and Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1162 words - 5 pages "Young Goodman Brown" was published in 1835, when Nathaniel Hawthorne was 31 years old. Hawthorne was born and reared in Salem, Massachusetts, a village still permeated by its 17th century Puritanism. When he was four, Hawthorne's father  died, and from that point on he was surrounded mostly by females: two sisters, a maiden aunt, and a retiring mother who was not close to her children. He had little contact with his deceased father's family

Ambiguity in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1847 words - 7 pages Brown”:  “For Hawthorne, the forest was neither the proper home of the admirable Adam, as with Cooper; nor was it the hideout of the malevolent adversary. . . . It was the ambiguous setting of moral choice. . . .” (74-75). Henry James in Hawthorne, when discussing “Young Goodman Brown” mentions how allegorical Hawthorne is, and how it is not clearly expressed with this author:   The only cases in which it is endurable is when it is extremely

Ambiguity in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1727 words - 7 pages Ambiguity in “Young Goodman Brown”               Peter Conn in “Finding a Voice in an New Nation” makes a statement regarding Hawthorne’s ambiguity:  “Almost all of Hawthorne’s finest stories are remote in time or place. The glare of contemporary reality immobillized his imagination. He required shadows and half-light, and he sought a nervous equilibrium in ambiguity” (82). There is considerable ambiguity in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young

The Ambiguity in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1655 words - 7 pages The Ambiguity in “Young Goodman Brown”        The literary critics agree that there is considerable ambiguity in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” This essay intends to illustrate the previous statement and to analyze the cause of this ambiguity.   Henry James in Hawthorne, when discussing “Young Goodman Brown” comments on how imaginative it is, then mentions how allegorical Hawthorne is, and how allegory should be

Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown and Transcendentalism

2389 words - 10 pages that human existence transcended the sensory realm, and rejected formalism in favor of individual responsibility. Hawthorne's fiancee Sophia Peabody drew him into "the newness," and in 1841 Hawthorne invested $1500 in the Brook Farm Utopian Community, leaving disillusioned within a year. His works show some Transcendentalist influence, including a belief in individual choice and consequence, and an emphasis on symbolism. “Young Goodman Brown” would

Symbolism in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2494 words - 10 pages Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown                 Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living” state: “Hawthorne’s unique gift was for the creation of strongly symbolic stories which touch the deepest roots of man’s moral nature” (31). It is the purpose of this essay to explore the main symbolism contained within Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “Young Goodman Brown.”   Stanley T. Williams in “Hawthorne’s

Transcendentalism and Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

3611 words - 14 pages ): 19. Easterly, Joan Elizabeth. "Lachrymal Imagery in Hawthorne's ‘Young Goodman Brown’.” Studies in Short Fiction 28:3 (1991 Summer): 339-43. Ferguson, J. M., Jr.   “Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown.”  Explicator 28  (Dec. 1969):  Item 32. Franklin, Benjamin V.  “Goodman Brown and the Puritan Catechism.”  ESQ  40  (1994):  67-88. Fogle, Richard Harter.  Hawthorne’s Fiction:  The Light and the Dark.  Norman:  U of Oklahoma P, 1952

Similar Essays

Central Conflict, Climax And Resolution In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1752 words - 7 pages The Central Conflict, Climax and Resolution in “Young Goodman Brown”     This essay will analyze Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” to determine the central conflict in the tale, its climax and partial resolution, using the essays of literary critics to help in this interpretation. In my opinion, the central conflict in the tale is an internal one - the conflict in Goodman Brown between joining the ranks of the devil and

Ambiguity And Uncertainty In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1536 words - 6 pages Ambiguity and Uncertainty in Young Goodman Brown     In "Young Goodman Brown," Nathaniel Hawthorne, through the use of deceptive imagery, creates a sense of uncertainty that illuminates the theme of man's inability to operate within a framework of moral absolutism.  Within every man there is an innate difference between good and evil and Hawthorne's deliberate use of ambiguity mirrors this complexity of human nature. Hawthorne's Young

Symbolism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

685 words - 3 pages Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is full of symbolism throughout the story. Perhaps the most interesting examples of symbolism include the title character, Young Goodman Brown, as well as his wife, Faith, and the woods that Young Goodman Brown enters on his journey. Included are many allusions to Christianity and also to evil and sin. These references are expressed mainly

Puritan Depravity And Distrust In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2296 words - 9 pages .  In particular, Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" allows the writer to examine and perhaps provide commentary on not only the Salem of his own time but also the Salem of his ancestors.  Growing up, Hawthorne could not escape the influence of Puritan society, not only from residing with his father's devout Puritan family as a child but also due to Hawthorne's study of his own family history.  The first of his ancestors, William Hathorne, is