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The Themes in Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown

The Themes in “Young Goodman Brown”

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” the reader finds several themes. These will be discussed in this essay.

Morse Peckham in “The Development of Hawthorne’s Romanticism” explains what he interprets Hawthorne’s main theme to be:

Once the self has been redeemed from society it can be explored in its own terms, and for this purpose Hawthorne developed his peculiar use of emblematic allegory. . . . This technique, though Hawthorne’s is different from that of European writers, creates analogies between self and not-self, between personality and the worlds. . . .Henceforth Hawthorne’s theme is the redemption of the self through the acceptance and exploitation of what society terms the guilt of the individual but which to the Romantic is society’s guilt (92).

The interplay between the guilt of the individual, Goodman, and society’s guilt, underlies all of “Young Goodman Brown” from beginning to end.

In reading Hawthorne’s tales, Herman Melville in “Hawthorne and His Mosses” (in Literary World, August 17, 24, 1850) makes discoveries relevant to the themes:

Where Hawthorne is known, he seems to be deemed a pleasant writer, with a pleasant style,–a sequestered, harmless man, from whom any deep and weighty thing would hardly be anticipated:–a man who means no meanings. But there is no man, in whom humor and love, like mountain peaks, soar to such a rapt height, as to receive the irradiations of the upper skies;–there is no man in whom humor and love are developed in that high form called genius; no such man can exist without also possessing, as the indispensable complement of these, a great, deep intellect, which drops down…

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

Martin, Terence “Six Tales.” In Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Twayne Publishers Inc., 1965.

Melville, Herman. “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” The Literary World August 17, 24, 1850.

Peckham, Morse. “The Development of Hawthorne’s Romanticism.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

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.

Comparing the Country Estate in Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park

Importance of the Country Estate in Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park

The world of Jane Austen’s novels is a world of the country estate. Her central characters are members of the parish or landed gentry and their lives and adventures often circle around the local estate and the people who live there. One of Austen’s main literary principles was to write only about the things she knew about in her own life, and the world of the landed gentry was one to which she had access. However the country estate in her novels serves a greater purpose than that of a mere background to the lives of her characters. Austen uses the country estate to give the reader an insight into the personalities of her characters, and as a way of discussing political, religious and aesthetic ideas of the period.

One of the most obvious functions of the country estate in both Prideand Prejudice and Mansfield Park is that of mirroring the character of its owners and Inhabitants and thus of providing a symbolic representation of their values and traits of personality. When Elizabeth Bennet visits Pemberley, she is impressed by what she sees:

It was a large, handsome stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; – and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. (p.267)

This description occurs at a point when Elizabeth is being forced to reconsider her opinions of Darcy. She has already read his reply to Wickham’s slurs on his character, but still believes Darcy to be a man of excessive pride, a belief which is overturned during her visit to Pemberley, and this view of the estate is the first stage of her transformation of opinion. The information which the author gives us enables us to start challenging our assumptions about Darcy, and follow the process which is occurring within the mind of Elizabeth. This description of the estate gives us information about many aspects of Darcy’s character. The beauty of the house and grounds make us feel that perhaps he has justification for any pride he displays.

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