“Young Goodman Brown”

In the story “Young Goodman Brown,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne the type of narration used includes third person omniscient.   With this type of narration the narrator gives the reader information from anywhere in the story.  Therefore, the narrator is able to give information even when the setting changes.   The narrative style is also third person limited because the narrator is only able to give information about what is in the mind of the point-of -view character, Goodman Brown.  The narrator does not have access to the thoughts of other characters.  The narrator does have access to the feelings of some of the flat characters.  This is noted on page 8 where the narrator stated, “… and fair young girls who trembled lest their mothers espy them.”

The narrator begins to tell the story from the setting of Young Goodman Brown’s home as he is about to leave home on his mysterious journey.  The setting changes as Goodman Brown continues on his journey through Salem Village and into the woods.  On page two Hawthorne wrote,  “He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest.”   The narration continues even when Goodman Brown leaves the setting of his fellow traveler and hides in the bushes.  While he is hidden the narrator gives narration from Goodman Brown’s hiding place  and also from the Goodman Brown’s companion and Goody Cloyse.

The wording of the story indicates this is truly third person as the narrator does not take part in the story.  For example, Hawthorne wrote,  “Friend, said he…” on page 5.  On page 1, “Poor little faith thought he.”  Also on page 7, “My Faith is gone!, cried he.”

Third person limited narration continues when the narrator gives an insight into the thoughts and feelings of Young Goodman Brown. This on page 5 when Goodman Brown had apparently changed his mind about continuing his unchristian like journey.   “The young man sat a few moments by the road-side, applauding himself greatly, and thinking with how clear a conscience he should meet the minister on his morning walk, nor shrink from the eye of Deacon Gookin.”

The narrator has not given readers an understanding of why Goodman Brown decides to go an this journey that he knew was   against his christian values.  He came to his senses and does restrain himself for a moment from going further, but when he saw the pink ribbons belonging to his wife her presence there propelled him onward.   Goodman brown is rather naive because along the journey he hid himself from the sight of Goody Cloyse, his pastor and the deacon.  All of whom he had no doubt were good christian.   His companion laughed at him on page 3 when he said, “…how should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem Village?  Oh his voice would make me tremble, both Sabbath-day and lecture-day.”   His companion laughed because he knew these people were all hypocrites who professed Christianity but who were also devil worshipers.  He also knew all these  people  would be in attendance when they reached their destination.   Goodman Brown at this point was in for a surprise.


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