Conflict, Climax, Resolution of “Young Goodman Brown”
Hugo McPherson in “Hawthorne’s Use of Mythology” makes a statement regarding the nature of the conflict in the works of Hawthorne:
Everything he has to say is related, finally, to ‘that inward sphere.’ For the heart is the meeting-place of all the forces – spiritual and physical, light and dark, that compete for dominance in man’s nature. …Those who read him as a Christian moralist recognize instantly an opposition between Head and Heart, reason and passion which is related not only to Puritan theology but to the Neo-Classical view of man….(68-69)
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” is, in the estimation of various literary critics, an example of various types of conflicts. This essay will examine them and also the climax and resolution of this short story.
Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living” state that “’Young Goodman Brown’ uses the background of witchcraft to explore uncertainties of belief that trouble a man’s heart and mind” (31). The conflict between pride and humility is the direction that Clarice Swisher in “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography” tends: Hawthorne himself was preoccupied with the problems of evil, the nature of sin, the conflict between pride and humility” (13). There is little doubt about the pride of the protagonist as he scolds his wife for not fully trusting him: “’My love and my Faith,’ replied young Goodman Brown, ‘of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done ‘twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three mo…
…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.
Martin, Terence. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Twayne Publishers Inc., 1965.
McPherson, Hugo. “Hawthorne’s Use of Mythology.” 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.
Williams, Stanley T. “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.