Formal Analysis Of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

859 words - 3 pages

A Formal Analysis of Young Goodman Brown  

    

Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is an interesting short story that creatively tells two stories at once.  One story is of a man leaving his wife one night and venturing into the woods, and the other is of his struggle with his religious faith.  In reading this story, it is beneficial for one to look at it from a formalistic point of view.  Formal analysis makes the reader look closely at how a story is written to see its deeper meaning.  Hawthorne takes advantage of careful word choice and images to create a picture of one man's journey that can easily parallel our own.

 

    The word choice of every story plays a key role in understanding the story.  In "Young Goodman Brown" almost every word contains a special meaning.  The title Hawthorne gives to his story is simple and informative; it tells the reader right away that the focus of the story is a young man.  The use of the name Brown is also significant.  The name is universal so that it can relate to anyone (Rhetoric 102L class discussion, January 15 2001).  The fact that his title is Goodman, instead of Mister, suggests that it took place around colonial times. The name of his wife, Faith, is a clue held in the opening paragraph of the text that gives the reader and idea of what the story is about.  Though out the story Goodman Brown says phrases such as, "Faith kept me back a while," which on the surface looks as though he is talking about his wife; however just below the surface he is talking about how his faith in God that kept him from heading towards the Devil.  (HCAL 376).    Careful word choice can easily set the mood and foreshadow coming events.  Hawthorne decisively makes a mood change at the bottom of the first page when he says, "Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil task" (HCAL 375).  The word, evil, automatically lets the reader know that something bad is going to happen and makes the mood darker.  The intensity of what sinister things are to come is further emphasized with the following line, "He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees in the forest"  (HCAL 375).  Alliteration is skillfully used in the text when describing sounds.  The use of the phrase "whispering without a wind" allows the reader to actually hear the wind of the forest.  Words are gold in this story and can...

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