Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story or tale, “Young Goodman Brown,” is an interesting example of the multi-faceted style of the author, which will be discussed in this essay.
Edgar Allan Poe in “Twice-Told Tales – A Review,” which appeared in Graham’s Magazine in May, 1842, comments on Hawthorne’s “originality,” and “tranquil and subdued manner” which characterize his style:
The Essays of Hawthorne have much of the character of Irving, with more of originality, and less of finish; while, compared with the Spectator, they have a vast superiority at all points. The Spectator, Mr. Irving, and Mr. Hawthorne have in common that tranquil and subdued manner which we have chosen to denominate repose. . . . In the essays before us the absence of effort is too obvious to be mistaken, and a strong undercurrent of suggestion runs continuously beneath the upper stream of the tranquil thesis. In short, these effusions of Mr. Hawthorne are the product of a truly imaginative intellect, restrained, and in some measure repressed, by fastidiousness of taste, by constitutional melancholy and by indolence.
Peter Conn in “Finding a Voice in an New Nation” discloses a characteristic of Hawthorne’s tyle with regard to his short stories: “Almost all of Hawthorne’s finest stories are remote in time or place” (82). Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale “Young Goodman Brown” is no exception to this rule, being placed in historic Salem, Massachusetts, back in the 1600’s.
Herman Melville in “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” (in The Literary World August 17, 24, 1850) has a noteworthy comment on Hawthorne’s style:
Nathaniel Hawthorne is a man, as yet, almost utterly mistaken among men. Here and there, in some quiet arm-chair in the noisy town, or some deep nook among the noiseless mountains, he may be appreciated for something of what he is. But
unlike Shakespeare, who was forced to the contrary course by circumstances, Hawthorne (either from simple disinclination, or else from inaptitude) refrains from all the popularizing noise and show of broad farce, and blood-besmeared tragedy; content with the still, rich utterances of a great intellect in repose, and which sends
few thoughts into circulation, except they be arterialized at his large warm lungs, and expanded in his honest heart.
How beautifully does this critic capture the basic attitude of Hawthorne, who avoids the “noise and show” and emphasizes his “rich utterances.
Powerful Women of The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost
Two very powerful female figures are presented in Error of The Faerie Queene, and Sin of Paradise Lost. These two characters are quite similar in description, Milton making a clear tribute to Spencer’s work. Both characters have the same monster qualities, and both posses allegorical names and qualities.
Error is by far the most disgustingly described of the two monsters. In Book 1, Canto 1, she is the first obstacle to meet the knight and his party. She represents the consequences of the night’s foolhardiness and over-confidence. Seeking shelter from a storm while lost in the woods, the knight and his party come across a cave. He is warned by Una not to enter the dark and foreboding cave, “Oft fire is without smoke, / and perill without show: therefore your stroke / Sir knight with-hold, till further triall made.(103)” Even the dwarfe warns that “this is no place for living men.(117)” But the knight, “full of fire and greedy hardiment (118)”, enters “the darksome hole.(120)”
After entering, his “glistring” armor reflects some light into the dark cave, allowing him to plainly view the woman-beast. Reacting to the light, her “thousand” disfigured off-spring crawl into the sanctity of her wretched mouth. These young ones are mimicked by Milton in his descriptions of Satan’s daughter in Paradise Lost. The first connectio…
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…iption, Milton offers mere comparisons-perhaps a more powerful comparison would be one to Error herself.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Elledge, Scott, ed. Paradise Lost: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources, Criticism. New York: Norton, 1975.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Roy Flannagan. New York: Macmillan, 1993.
Spenser. Ed. Annabel Patterson. New York: Longman, 1998.
Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queene. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams.
Webber, Joan Malory. “The Politics of Poetry: Feminism and Paradise Lost.” Milton Studies. Vol. 14. Ed. James D. Simmonds. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1980. 3-24.