Young Goodman Brown Close Reading
Lily Elizabeth . J Ms. Wilson Gothic Fiction 5 October 2011 Young Goodman Brown Revised Nathaniel Hawthorne uses characterization to develop the theme of deceit and sin. Sin and deceit cannot be missed in the story of Young Goodman Brown; Hawthorne shows the reader these themes through the use of characterization. Brown the main character who is on a journey through the woods meets several characters who are not as perfect as he had once thought to be.
Hawthorne shows the reader the theme of deceit in this passage: “how many a woman, eager for widows’ weeds, has given her husband a drink at bedtime and let him sleep his last sleep in her bosom” (1041).
The women in the passage are deceiving their husbands’ because they are married to the men and had to love then at some point. By poisoning the husbands the women show deceit toward them because the men most likely never saw it coming and thought their marriage was going ok, but in the eyes of their wives was not.
Not only is the author bringing us deceitfulness but the theme of sin with the woman killing her husband in his sleep. With sin and deceit being constantly highlighted, Nathaniel Hawthorne makes it his point to teach his readers a twisted version of the saying don’t judge a book by its cover. Hawthorne shows this by the all of Goodman Brown’s friends that he met in the forest that he had once held up high on a pedal stool but then to find out they all had dark sides when seeing them again. Once again Nathaniel Hawthorne changes perception of characters in this sentence using characterization. This is a quote that does so. This night it shall be granted you to know their secret deeds: how hoary-bearded elders of the church have whispered wanton words to the young maids of their households” (1041). This one sentence is exploding with deceit. For instance when someone pictures a man of the church many think of a man that could do no wrong, one that is holier than thou. Hawthorne characterizes this man to be somewhat of a womanizer. The word “wanton” (2) in this line does not mean a type of Asian food, but an immoral promiscuous woman; for an elder of the church to be whispering these kinds of words to a woman is quite uncanny.
Hawthorne has changed the view of the reader as well as Brown with the portrayal of the church men in a completely different light. This is yet another quote which shows the theme of sin in this passage. “how many a woman, eager for widows’ weeds, has given her husband a drink at bedtime and let him sleep his last sleep in her bosom”(1041). The women poisoning her husband is a sinful action that helps to characterize the women in this part of the story. When Hawthorne uses the word widow and how the woman kills her husband, this goes along with the nature of the black widow spider.
The black widow spider kills her mate after he has fertilized her eggs. This correlates with the woman poisoning her husband. Hawthorne is spot on in using characterization to develop his themes in the short story of Young Goodman Brown. The theme of deceit and sin can easily be identified by the reader in just the one small paragraph. This passage is important to the larger scheme of the work because it helps the reader to continue developing the characterization to emphasize the themes. Works Cited Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Virginia: Electronic Text Center. 4 Oct, 2011 2. “wanton. ” Dictonary. com. Web. 4 Oct, 2011
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