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Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown – Point of View

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” how does the author present the characters, dialogue, actions, setting and events which comprise the narrative in this short story? This essay will answer these questions.

R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Time: Hawthorne” states that “there is always more to the world in which Hawthorne’s characters move than any one of them can see at a glance” (77). In Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” this fact is especially true since the main character, Goodman Brown, is a naïve hero and since the narrator tells much of the story through the limited point of view of the protagonist.

In this story the author uses a third-person narrator, who uses proper names and third-person pronouns to designate the various characteris in the tale:

YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.

The narrator possesses the capability of reading the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, the young Puritan husband, Goodman Brown, only, from among all the characters. As Brown turns the corner at the meeting house, he thinks:

“Poor little Faith!” thought he, for his heart smote him. “What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought, as she spoke, there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But, no, no! ‘twould kill her to think it. Well; she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I’l…

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…agonist as the character through whom the perceptions of the site are arriving to the reader. This inconsistency of viewpoint within given paragraphs may be a source for ambiguity within the tale.

In conclusion, we have seen how in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” the author presents the characters, dialogue, actions, setting and events which comprise the narrative in this short story, and what may be a source of ambiguity in the tale.


Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” 1835.

Lewis, R. W. B. “The Return into Time: Hawthorne.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Contrasting Lucas Beauchamp of Go Down, Moses and Joe Christmas of Light in August

Contrasting Lucas Beauchamp of Go Down, Moses and Joe Christmas of Light in August

Lucas Beauchamp, found in Intruder in the Dust and Go Down, Moses, is one of William Faulkner’s most psychologically well-rounded characters. He is endowed with both vices and virtues; his life is dotted with failures and successes; he is a character who is able to push the boundaries that the white South has enforced upon him without falling to a tragic ending. Living in a society which believes one drop of black blood makes a person less than human and implies criminal tendencies, a society in which men like Joe Christmas are hunted and killed for fear of racial mixing, Lucas is a character who contradicts all that we have come to expect from a typical tragic character of mixed blood, such as Joe Christmas or Charles Bon. By contrasting the Lucas Beauchamp we find in the “The Fire and the Hearth” section of Go Down, Moses to a model tragic figure such as Joe Christmas from Light in August, one can measure Lucas’ success by his own merit, not by his white ancestry.

Environment is key to understanding Faulkner’s characters. Daniel J. Singal argues Faulkner’s intentions of creating Lucas Beauchamp as a “model transitional identity,” a bridge from Jim Crowism to the end of segregation (268). Segregation produces a structure of society that feels threatened by that which cannot be arranged into the roles of hierarchy. Andre Bleikasten states, “To divide is to pass judgment, to name the categories of good and evil, to assign them to fixed locations, and to draw between them boundaries not to be crossed” (326). Jefferson society divides its citizens into categories of black and white. Each individual knows where he or she stands; each knows at a glance which category every other citizen belongs to, and treats others accordingly. Any deviation from this structure is a threat to the society (326). In Light in August, Joe Christmas poses such a threat to Jefferson society because he is able to cross the boundaries. He looks white, but allegedly has black blood.

He never acted like either a nigger or a white man. That was it. That was what made the folks so mad. For him to be a murderer and all dressed up and walking the town like he dared them to touch him, when he ought to have been skulking and hiding in the woods, muddy and dirty and running.

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