Comparison of Dover Beach and Young Goodman Brown
It is always complicated to compare the literary pieces that belong to different kinds of literature. However, the word order is not the determining point due to perception and interpretation of literature. The lyric poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold and the short story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne are the pieces almost from different realms. However, a closer look at both of them might help observe the similarities in the vision of Hawthorne’s protagonist and Arnold persona in the poem. It is represented differently, for Matthew Arnold portrays it as the features of nature around, while in the Hawthorne’s novel it is the decay of the protagonist’s admiration with the world and people in it. Thus, the main thing that connects the two works is the portrayal of a smooth transition from joy and excitement to the obscure frustration with reality.
The similarities between narrators in Dover Beach and Young Goodman Brown is the transitional tone incorporated in the two compositions. Both works begin with a romanticized view of the world. The persona sees all the beauty of a calm evening by the sees. It is filled with serenity and joy of being alive and be able to touch so simple things as sunset or not to worry about anything. The persona sees the complete harmony of nature, and joins it, feeling the bliss of the unity with the universe. In Dover beach, the narrator is captivated by the water: he observes the beauty in nature. “The sea is calm tonight / the tide is full, the moon lies fair.” He paints a perfect picture of Dover Beach. However, it is only an introduction to his further philosophical speculations the lead him to the pessimistic conclusions. Listening carefully to the movement of pebbles thrown back to the beach by the endlessly coming waves, He starts to think of the entire matter of living and the eternal conflict of and dissonance that the waves represent. The narrator recognizes the “grating roar” the only sound that is impossible to confuse for him, which he call “the eternal note of sadness.” This is a message from nature itself, and only a thinking human being is able to recognize this sound. This sound is dedicated to the lone wanderers around the shore, who were led there by suffering the uncertainty and the vagueness of the matter of existence (Grob 2002). By the end of the work, the persona is all alone, facing the dark reality.
The protagonist takes the first steps in the path through the woods as a naive and idealistic person. He sees the world as joyful and simple thing. Young Goodman Brown is also living a fantasy with his newly wed wife, Faith. He describes her as “a blessed angel on earth.” She is so perfect, in his eyes, that he wants to preserve her just as he has with faith in God. He is certain that all his ancestors were all decent and virtuous people anв good Christians. The community he lives in consists solely of best of people, and their pastor is simply a saint. This is the community that he intentionally leaves to the travel to the dark forest. This walk, for some reason, does not disturb Brown. All the events of the story align in the chain of psychological need after a certain incident, lying outside the story and accomplished in the mind and heart of Brown. The agreement to a meeting with the dark force is the product of subconscious unbelief. This journey shows him the dark side of the entire world he lives in. Those people who are separated by social status, reputation, race, religion by day unite in the darkness of night and in the worship of evil (Connolly 1962). After his return to the village, he looks with horror at living normal lives of Christian citizens, whom he saw in the forest, turn out to be terrible hypocrites. He loses the faith in humanity and God. This is a presentation of a gradual loss of hope, the entire idea of the world and people collapsed before his very eyes, and this is a state of mind, with which he lived till the end of his life.
To conclude everything mentioned above, the works mentioned have in common the tragedy of the persona, which finds them differently. As the two works develop, the tone change drastically. At the beginning both of the stories ode to the world and enjoy their lives being certain of everything they know. However, Dover Beach turns into a sad cruel place which people misinterpret into a paradise, while the author sees it as a dead end of the idea of existence. Young Goodman Brown sees everything that he ever believed in is false and he is surrounded by sinners and hypocrites. He develops into a cold, anti-social man who mistrusted everyone in town and lived in suspicion, as he does not know what to believe in.
Connolly, Thomas E. “How Young Goodman Brown Became Old Badman Brown”. College English, vol 24, no. 2, 1962, p. 153. JSTOR.
Grob, Alan. A Longing Like Despair: Arnold’s Poetry of Pessimism. 1st ed., Newark, University Of Delaware Press, 2002.
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