Young Goodman Brown Versus The Pink Ribbon – A Comparative Essay

Young Goodman Brown Versus The Pink Ribbon – A Comparative Essay

In Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the narration is third person limited omniscient. Hawthorne’s narrator follows around the thoughts and feelings of young Goodman Brown. This story is limited to the experience and the views of Goodman Brown. The readers of the story do not understand all the events that may have happened in the story because Goodman Brown does not understand the full events of his experience. Goodman does not know why his wife was at the devil’s gathering. Goodman does not know whether or not he dreamed the experiences of the night. Focusing the narration to Faith’s point of view through first person narration will allow the reader’s to piece together both sides of the story to better understand what happened the night at the forest. Although the original short story’s third person limited omniscient of Goodman Brown conveys vulnerability, mystery, and dominance, the retelling of the story uses first person narration of Faith to emphasize on vulnerability, submission, and love.

Young Goodman Brown showed a sort of dark romance with vulnerability of people whom Goodman thought were innocent and religious. The narrator describes Goody Cloyse and Deacon Gookin with kind words from Goodman’s point of view. This could be portrayed in the quote, “as he spoke, he pointed his staff at a female figure on the path, in whom Goodman Brown recognized a very pious and exemplary dame, who had taught him his catechism in youth and was still his moral and spiritual advisor” (Hawthorne, 1846:4). This could also be portrayed in “The young man sat for a few moments by the road-side, applauding himself greatly, and thinking with how clear a conscience he should meet his minister, in his morning-walk, nor shrink from the eye of good old Deacon Gookin” (Hawthorne, 1846:5). Although the third person narrator is speaking here, readers can understand how Goodman thought of Goody Cloyse and Deacon Gookin by pointing out their role in Goodman’s life.

The retelling of Young Goodman Brown also portrayed vulnerability of people but specifically of Faith. This can be portrayed in paragraph 4, “I do not doubt you my dearest… I doubt myself! Please, my dearest, doubt the lone woman, stay with me by my bedside to-night!” This shows the vulnerability of Faith herself and how she doubts herself even though Goodman Brown still believed her as pure and innocent. She wanted Goodman to bring her back to the good side because she could not do it herself. This could also be shown in paragraph 16, “Just seconds later, I felt trapped in my body. I felt like I was gazing through the eyes of a stranger’s withered body.” The vulnerability of Faith to stand for what is right caused her to lose control of her body. She was only a passenger on the ride to the communion where she joined the devil. In the retelling of the story, Faith was a lot more vulnerable than Goodman was to walk with the devil. This shows that Faith was submissive whereas Goodman showed dominance.

In the short story of Young Goodman Brown, Goodman repetitively showed dominance to the devil. This can be seen even in the beginning of the story, “too far, too far!” (Hawthorne, 1846: 3). Just at the beginning of his walk, Goodman is already wanting to back out of it exclaiming that they have already reached too far and that his father and his father’s father have never went into the woods for such errands. It can also be seen in “my mind is made up. Not another step will I budge on this errand. What if a wretched old woman do choose to go to the devil, when I thought she was going to Heaven! Is that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith, and go after her?” (Hawthorne, 1846: 5). Goodman sees that his moral and spiritual advisor has chosen to be with the devil but he stands strong and makes up his mind to stay behind. Goodman makes up his mind to stand against the devil and shows dominance to his decision by standing strong.

Faith, on the other hand, was extremely submissive to the devil. The moment Goodman Brown walks into the forest and away from Faith, Faith followed the devil. In paragraph 14, “He has chosen, and so have you my sweet girl!” With just this quote, Faith lost control of her body and sold her soul to the devil. In paragraph 15, Faith shows submission, “If my dear Goodman choose to walk with the Devil tonight, I will walk with him as well. I will sell my soul to the devil if it means being with my sweet love.” Although Faith chose to follow the Devil it can be seen that she does this out of love. She does this because she wants to be with her love. Even towards the end of the retelling, it showed the ultimate submission to the devil because in paragraph 28, “Twisting and wriggling in a pink ribbon, I saw the great black snake.” Towards the end of the retelling, she followed Goodman’s advice to look up to heaven and resist the devil but she still followed the devil.

In Young Goodman Brown, it wasn’t exactly clear whether or not Faith and Goodman followed the devil. Mystery encompassed the entire short story since the beginning. This can be portrayed in “of all nights in the year, this one night I must tarry away from thee” (Hawthorne, 1946: 1). There is so much mystery in this quote because the readers do not know where he is going and why it must be this night. It could also be portrayed in the paragraph before, “”dearest heart,” whispered she, softly and rather sadly” (Hawthorne, 1846: 1). The reader’s do not know why Faith is sad, and why Faith does not want her new husband to leave to the errand this one night. Finally, readers do not know who the old man that is walking with Goodman in the forest is. This is also shown in the quote, “the elder person was as simply clad as the younger, and as simple in manner too, he had an indescribable air” and “his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought.” (Hawthorne, 1846: 2).

In the retelling of the story, in paragraph 4, “I do not doubt you my dearest… I doubt myself! Please, my dearest, doubt the lone woman, stay with me by my bedside to-night!” Again, this solves the mystery that Faith does not want Goodman to go to the forest because she knows that he is going to the devil and that she doubts herself to stay faithful to Christianity without him by her side. In paragraph 13, it says “I turned around and there he was, about fifty years old, with an indescribable air of one who knew the world. I saw his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent.” Through this sentence it is understood that the person talking to Faith is the same person that is walking with Goodman in the forest. In paragraph 12, when Faith exclaimed “The devil”, readers understand that it is the devil who is leading Goodman and Faith to the communion.

Although the both the short story of Young Goodman Brown and the retelling had a gothic and dark mysterious vibe to it, the retelling of the story in Faith’s perspective gave readers a lot of answers that they were searching for in the actual text. Young Goodman Brown, being told in third person limited omniscient only allowed a small peephole into the actual events of the story through the eyes of Goodman Brown. Because Goodman was confused with the events of the night, the readers were confused with the events of the night. The retelling of the story through Faith’s perspective is also limited to only her thoughts and feelings but because Faith is more aware of the story, the readers are also more aware of the events that happened. When readers read both versions of the story, they come to a better understanding of the characters of Goodman and of Faith. Readers understand their differences in handling the same situation as well as the outcome of the story, answering some of the vagueness at the end of Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne.



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