Get help from the best in academic writing.

Stylistic Features in Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown

Stylistic Features in “Young Goodman Brown”

Henry Seidel Canby in “A Skeptic Incompatible with His Time and His Past” states: “And indeed there is a lack of consistence between the scorn that our younger critics shower upon Hawthorne’s moral creations and their respect for his style. They admit a dignity in the expression that they will not allow to the thing expressed” (62). The style found in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” has not only a “dignity in the expression” as stated above, but also many other interesting aspects, discussed in the following essay.

Canby continues:

Hawthorne’style has a mellow beauty; it is sometimes dull, sometimes prim, but it is never for an instant cheap, never, like our later American styles, deficient in tone and unity. It is a style with a patina that may or may not accord with current tastes, yet, as with Browne, Addison, Lamb, Thoreau, is undoubtedly a style. Such styles spring only from rich ground, long cultivated, and such a soil was Hawthorne’s. . . . Holding back from the new life of America into which Whitman was to plunge with such exuberance, he kept his style, like himself, unsullied by the prosaic world of industrial revolution, and chose, for his reality, the workings of the moral will. You can scarcely praise his style and condemn his subjects. Even romantic themes that would have been absurd in lesser hands get dignity from his purpose. . . . As Shakespeare, the Renaissance man, gave feudalism its final lift into the imagination, so Hawthorne, the skeptic with a moral obsession, raised New England Puritanism – not the theory, but the practice and still more the results in mind and spirit – into art. This lies behind his style (63).

… middle of paper …

…: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Fuller, Edmund and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

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

James, Henry. Hawthorne.

Kaul, A.N. “Introduction.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Swisher, Clarice. “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

Wagenknecht, Edward. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Man, His Tales and Romances. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1989.

The Style of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads

The Style of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads

Bennett states in his introduction that “forms….dictate themselves” and that material demands to be “written in a particular way and no other”. Each of the characters, according to the author has a “single point of view” and none is “telling the whole story”. He says that his characters are “artless” and “don’t quite know what they are saying”. It is true that this is so. We, the listeners, can make conjectures about all of them. Graham’s ambiguous sexuality, Susan’s alcoholism and Muriel’s perverted husband are not revealed directly through any statements made to us. They are hinted at by what is left unsaid or by what is obliquely inferred. In a very real sense, though, this is true to life and Bennett cleverly constructs each monologue to be as realistic as possible. In speaking to an inanimate object – the camera – each character is, so to speak, alone. The audience is not “there”, as far as the speaker is concerned. Better still, the camera is like a hidden priest in a confessional. Each person is able to speak quite frankly to the anonymous listener. If we make judgements we have no means of interaction. This is not a two – way process of confidential gossip, for none of the characters expect a reply. Bennett lets his characters reveal themselves openly and we are left to form our own opinions of them. He calls the style “austere” and so it is, for there is no authorial decoration of expression. What each character actually says is all we are given to work on and we must sift the inner meanings for ourselves.

One of the author’s most impressive gifts is his ear for idiom. All of the characters use an idiomatic turn of phrase exactly suited to their lifestyles and backgrounds. Bennett’s use of cliché is extensive, each character again using appropriate language with regard to background and upbringing. Their choice of idiom is often very funny, sometimes intentionally, as in the case of Susan’s “Hazflor” episode and sometimes unintentionally, as in Doris’s “Love God and close all gates”.

It is difficult to categorise the form of these stories. Bennett calls them monologues, which, strictly speaking, they are, but he also says that several of them could be plays.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.