ENG 1101 Fall 2020 OL20 (26956)

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Discussion post for "Young Goodman Brown"
Questions about the readings: “Young Goodman Brown” is a classic short story. It has all the trappings: relatively brief length, very few characters, and a surprise ending. Please don’t be put off by the archaic language. It was written almost 200 years ago and was current at that time. You may know the author’s name from another book he wrote, The Scarlet Letter, which has a similar setting, Salem, Massachusetts. 1) What do you know about Salem, Massachusetts? (You may Google it.) 2) What did you find unusual about the characters’ names? 3) Can you think of any stories you have read or seen wherein the characters’ names seemed so appropriate and even symbolic? (We are not talking about nicknames, wrestlers, rappers, or superheroes, and supervillains.) 4) What object is associated with his wife’s appearance? We see it more than once. What does it symbolize about her? 5) Approximately what age would you estimate Goodman and his wife to be? They are recently married, but back then people married very young. (The general life span was much less than today, people did not go to college, and it was considered highly immoral to have sex before marriage – hence young people got married.) 6) Why does this newlywed young man leave his nervous wife on this particular night? Where was he going and why? 7) At what point did you begin to sense that something odd was happening where he was walking? 8) Mention a few other highly unusual things he saw? (If you ever went camping in the woods, you realize it is very dark and not a place to be walking around.) 9) Eventually, he gets to his destination. What exactly is happening there? 10) When he sees that “wife object” how does he react? 11) At one point he cries out, “My Faith is gone!” What is the double meaning of this? 12) Who has been narrating this story? (Hawthorn is the author, of course, but is the author omniscient or a character, or some other combination? Why then does the narrator ask if all this story was a dream? 13) Does it matter to you if the story has been a dream or not? Can you think of any stories wherein a terrific plot or sequence turned out to be just a dream? Were you disappointed or exhilarated by finding out it was a dream? 14) Look at what happens to Goodman and the rest of his life. Have you ever been influenced by a dream to take some action? Or do you quickly forget your dreams? Are you yourself disappointed or relieved when you wake up from a dream? 15) The author seems to pessimistic about people: they are essentially bad, even if they try to act good. How do you feel about that? Do you feel people are basically good or bad – and why?

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September 13, 2020 at 9:56 am Prof. Masiello