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Essay on the Women of Young Goodman Brown, The Birthmark, and Rappaccini’s Daughter

The Women of Young Goodman Brown, The Birthmark, and Rappaccini’s Daughter

In his short stories, “Young Goodman Brown,” “The Birthmark,” and “Rappacciniâs Daughter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne uses his female characters to illustrate the folly of demanding perfection in the flawed world of humanity. Although Hawthorneâs women appear to have dangerous aspects, they are true of heart, and thus, they cannot be fully possessed by the corrupt men who seek to control them.

Hawthorne endows each of his heroines with both light and dark elements. Although each one is inherently pure, none of these women are entirely free from the accusations leveled by the men in their lives. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorne presents Faith as the ideal new bride. Trusting and childlike, she begs her husband not to leave her home alone. He admonishes her for doubting him. There is no reason to conclude that Faith has anything but perfect trust in Goodman Brown. Any such idea that he may have is merely a projection of his own feelings of guilt and shame (Colacurcio 390). Hawthorne never describes Faith in anything other than tender and glowing terms. She is all that Goodman Brown could hope for in a wife. He himself refers to her as “a blessed angel on earth” (Hawthorne, “Young” 65). However, Hawthorne allows both Goodman Brown and his readers to develop feelings of doubt about Mrs. Brown, introducing a darker aspect to her character. He casually, yet obviously, drops Faithâs pink hair ribbons into the story. The color pink seems to suggest that Faith is occupying some middle ground between white, which is “completely pure,” and red, which is “brazenly sinful” (McFarland 37). The pink ribbon mysteriously appears deep in the forest, where Goodman Br…

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…eâs Tales. Ed. James McIntosh. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1987. 186-209.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Nathaniel Hawthorneâs Tales. Ed. James McIntosh. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1987. 65-75.

Heilman, Robert B. “Hwathorneâs ÎThe Birthmarkâ: Science as Religion.” Nathaniel Hawthorneâs Tales. Ed. James McIntosh. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1987. 421-427.

McFarland, Melissa Pennell. A Nathaniel Hawthorne Encyclopedia. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.

Mitchell, Thomas R. “Rappaccini’s Garden and Emerson’s Concord Translating the Voice of Margaret Fuller.” Hawthorne and Women: Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition. Ed. John L. Idol. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999. 75-91.

Tharpe, Jac. Nathaniel Hawthorne: Identity and Knowledge. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967.

Making Hard Choices in The Grapes of Wrath

Making Hard Choices in The Grapes of Wrath

In literature as in life, people often find that they must make difficult choices in order to survive. The reasons behind their decisions and the results of their subsequent actions affect our opinion of them. In the Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck, the author portrayed situations where two main characters became involved. The nature of their choices, the reasons behind their decisions, and the results that followed affected them greatly. However, the choices that they made were surmounted successfully. Ma Joad and Tom Joad are two strong characters who overcame laborious predicaments. Their powerful characteristics helped to encourage those that were struggling.

In fact, one principal character who was involved in a difficult situation was Ma Joad. She was a wife and mother whose only occupation in life was a housewife. She lived in an unfair time period; women were forced to do almost everything that the man commanded. However, Ma Joad was different. Ever since the family traveled to California, she slowly began to take charge. This was first seen when Tom, Ma’s son, suggested that the family continue driving while he and Casy, the preacher, stayed behind to fix the Wilson’s (a family the Joads met on their way to California) automobile. Ma Joad was furious with this idea. She brought out a jack handle and said, “ ‘You done this ‘thout thinkin’ much. What we got lef ‘in the world’? Nothin’ but us. Nothin’ but the folks…An’ now, right off, you wanna bust up the folks’ “ (Steinbeck 218). Ma J…

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…s can make a person do unbelievable things. Although he was still an outlaw of society at the end of the book, his status changed immensely. Throughout the novel, he experienced reeducation and rebirth. He became a new man who fought for social amelioration and a better way of life for his people and for all struggling people. Tom learned that a man cannot just look after himself; in the spirit of compassion, he is also obligated to help others.

In literature as well as in life always find themselves making difficult choices. However, their decisions and actions can greatly affect the outcome. In The Grapes of Wrath, we learned that the characters also found themselves in tough predicaments. Nevertheless, the nature of their choices helped to make a triumphant result. Ma and Tom made hard decisions and survived.

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