Similarities in Setting and Symbolism in the Novels Young Goodman Brown and The Yellow Wallpaper

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

My essay will be on the similarities between Young Goodman Brown and The Yellow Wallpaper. Both stories seem to have a very dark theme, while also settling. They are both very direct in getting how the characters are feeling across. Young Goodman Brown is known to be a man that is heavily rooted in his faith and shows no temptation, as he not only deepens further into the woods but uncovers the secrecy of sins and evil within the people of his village. The Yellow Wallpaper talks about Jane’s long depression and her marriage that only worsens her mental health. They both discuss dark paths each character took, mentally struggling.

Does Young Goodman Brown encounter the devil as he walks through the woods? Does Jane see this woman behind the yellow wallpaper? Hawthorne says that “the fiend in his shape is less hideous when he rages in the breasts of men,” (Hawthorne). Brown develops an innate judgment and knowing that all sins and evil can come from any being, he becomes very “accepting” of this evil creature. The woman is the “same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight,” (Gilman). The character begins to hallucinate and believes that she has seen a woman creeping secretly outside. Both stories depend on illusions or possible illusions that the narrators describe. The symbolism in both stories is very similar as well. Whether it be in Brown’s journey where it explains how a “hero” embarks on a quest but ends up discovering a dark truth. Or the color yellow in Gilman’s story, which stands for creative, energy, and consciousness. This energy though is meant in more of a darker way. The narrator says “a smoldering unclean yellow dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulfur tint,” (Gilman), which is a perfect example of this symbolism. These symbols have an effect on both characters as a result of their defiance of social norms. Brown lives in a world emotionally cramped and pushed away until his journey, Jane also had an unstable mental state, considered “dangerous” to her baby.

Settings in both are undeniably similar, like the evilness coming from the forest, or the room with its artistic sins. “People with frightful sounds–the creaking of trees the howling of wild beasts, and the yell of Indians,” (Hawthorne), describes just how frightful the forest was. “When you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide,” (Perkins), describes the pain coming from the room despite the fact of the yellow color. Both of these revolting places lead to both character’s continuous downfalls.

Both character’s situations show themselves rejecting from the world. Goodman Brown becomes very bitter, while Jane just separates herself and makes her little world. Both characters face unstable situations causing very emotional tolls, unable to escape the problems they faced. Two different stories, yet both characters face their dilemmas, both may be illusions or denial of any problems. Jane escapes her husband and comes back to reality. While Goodman Brown’s faith faded, showing him he needed to guide his path back to God.

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