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Young Goodman Brown 
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
I heard about "Young Goodman Brown" in Stephen King's collection of short stories, Everything's Eventual. King writes a blurb about each of his "dark tales" and here's what he had to say about his O.Henry-winning story, "The Man in the Black Suit:"

My favorite Nathaniel Hawthorne story is "Young Goodman Brown." I think it's one of the best ten stories ever written by an American. "The Man in the Black Suit" is my homage to it." As for the particulars, I was talking with a friend of mine one day, and he happened to mention that his Grandpa believed—truly believed—that he had seen the Devil in the woods, back around the turn of the century. Grandpa said the Devil came out of the woods and started talking to him just like a natural man. While Grandpa was chinning with him, he realized that the man from the woods had burning red eyes and smelled like sulphur. My friend's Grandpa became convinced that the Devil would kill him if he realized Grandpa had caught on, so he did his best to make normal conversation until he could get away. My story grew from my friend's story. . . . I thought the finished product a rather humdrum folktale told in pedestrian language, certainly miles from the Hawthorne story I liked so much.

Anyway, I don't have much to say about "Young Goodman Brown" and truth be told I actually liked "The Man in the Black Suit" better. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't put this particular Hawthorne tale in the top ten stories by an American.

By the way, the title of King's story reminds me of one of Bob Dylan's great songs, "The Man in the Long Black Coat." I'm intrigued with the following lines from that song:

. . .Preacher was talking there's a sermon he gave
He said every man's conscience is vile and depraved
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it's you who must keep it satisfied


I think this is a certain Puritan idea that was firmly entrenched in religion back in the day. Hawthorne's story touches on that theme. And obviously Dylan's song does too. There's a certain apocalyptic quality to both, although as I said earlier it could be that Hawthorne is satirizing the idea.

Edit note: this from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Goodman_Brown

Quote:
. . .Nathaniel Hawthorne is known in his writings for his criticism of the teachings of the Puritans.[citation needed] Young Goodman Brown is no different as it seeks to expose his perceived hypocrisy in Puritan doctrine. The plot and textual references in Young Goodman Brown reveal the Puritans as being like "a city upon a hill" as John Winthrop said, a founder of Puritanism, and wanting to be seen that way as good, holy men. However, their doctrine teaches that all men are inherently evil and they strive to cause each person to come to terms with this and realize their sinful nature. This hypocrisy that Hawthorne presents in his story is how he reflects on the hypocritical teachings of the Puritans. They taught that man was inherently evil in nature much in accordance to Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Hobbes. They presented themselves as pure, holy, righteous, moral people when, according to their very own teachings, they were beings fueled by sin and evil.


And here are those lyrics:

Man In The Long Black Coat
by Bob Dylan

Crickets are chirpin' the water is high
There's a soft cotton dress on the line hangin' dry
Window wide open African trees
Bent over backwards from a hurricane breeze
Not a word of goodbye not even a note
She gone with the man in the long black coat.

Somebody seen him hangin' around
As the old dance hall on the outskirts of town
He looked into her eyes when she stopped him to ask
If he wanted to dance he had a face like a mask
Somebody said from the bible he'd quote
There was dust on the man in the long black coat.

Preacher was talking there's a sermon he gave
He said every man's conscience is vile and depraved
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it's you who must keep it satisfied
It ain't easy to swallow it sticks in the throat
She gave her heart to the man in the long black coat.

There are no mistakes in life some people say
It is true sometimes you can see it that way
But people don't live or die people just float
She went with the man in the long black coat.

There's smoke on the water it's been there since June
Tree trunks unprooted beneath the high crescent moon
Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumbling force
Somebody is out there beating on a dead horse
She never said nothing there was nothing she wrote
She gone with the man in the long black coat.


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Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:36 pm
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
geo wrote:
Anyway, I don't have much to say about "Young Goodman Brown" and truth be told I actually liked "The Man in the Black Suit" better. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't put this particular Hawthorne tale in the top ten stories by an American.

There isn't much I'd have to say about it, either. I can see why King might like it, though, since he works in a similar vein in his fiction. Most American short stories from this era--including Irving, Hawthorne, Poe, and even Twain--come from the tradition of the tale, rather than from the tradition that developed later along the lines of realistic fiction. The tale is now out of the mainstream of the short story form. None of the writers I mentioned, including Hawthorne, would be considered masters of the form. They are treated more like precursors of the short story.

YGB is both allegory and satire, to my thinking. The allegory is obvious, as allegory always is. The satire, concerning the religious obsessions and hypocrisies of the Puritans, is broad and fairly entertaining. I don't see much psychological coherence or depth here, unlike in Hawthorne's masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter.
Quote:
By the way, the title of King's story reminds me of one of Bob Dylan's great songs, "The Man in the Long Black Coat." I'm intrigued with the following lines from that song:

For me there is a "Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name" quality to this story, too.



Last edited by DWill on Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:59 pm
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
DWill wrote:
Most American short stories from this era--including Irving, Hawthorne, Poe, and even Twain--come from the tradition of the tale, rather than from the tradition that developed later along the lines of realistic fiction. The tale is now out of the mainstream of the short story form. None of the writers I mentioned, including Hawthorne, would be considered masters of the form. They are treated more like precursors of the short story.


Hello DWILL, what would you say is the main difference that would distinguish a “tale” from a “short story”? It’s interesting that you mention Poe because he is famous for his short pieces of work and I have always read them as short stories. This leads me to Aesop and the Grimm brothers and their “fables” and “tales”. What links these would be the presence of a moral, that there is something to be learned after the reading. I’m not quite sure if I agree that modern day writers of short stories are not in fact writing “tales”, but thank you for piquing my curiosity to learn more about “tales” and “short stories” and “fables” and the differences between them. I am now gathering my memories of recently read short stories by modern writers to compare with YGB to notice similarities.

I’m thinking that Dickens “A Christmas Carol” may also be placed in the category of a tale, or fable. Scrooge wonders if his experiences were real, or whether or not he was dreaming. This question is also a lingering question in YGB. It is unclear whether or not the events in YGB actually happened. I see the experiences of Brown to be dreamlike. If you read it as if it were a dream, I think it changes the overall outcome, or the overall feeling. For Brown to have this dream would suggest to me that he was predisposed to evil, and the dream featuring people from the church would somehow justify this evil. YGB could be seen as paranoid, HA! Just like some of Poe’s characters.

What’s interesting is that “Faith” never leaves him. She wants him to stay home, but then appears in the woods, “Faith” has followed him. I think there should have been a character named “Hope”, because hope is what he losses. His “Faith” changes, becomes less innocent, but is a constant in his life enduring a long marriage. His hope seems to have been lost forever.

It would be interesting to read the King story for comparison, however, I cannot find it on line, I don’t find this surprising.



Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:30 am
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
Suzanne wrote:
If you read it as if it were a dream, I think it changes the overall outcome, or the overall feeling. For Brown to have this dream would suggest to me that he was predisposed to evil, and the dream featuring people from the church would somehow justify this evil.


No, this is wrong, it is backwards. Brown has lost faith and hope in humanity due to the injustices commited on innocent people during the witch trials of Salem. He is predisposed to believing that people are primarily good, but because of the horror he sees in Salem, he realizes that he can no longer distinquish between good and evil. Hmm . . .



Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:57 am
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
Suzanne wrote:
Hello DWILL, what would you say is the main difference that would distinguish a “tale” from a “short story”? It’s interesting that you mention Poe because he is famous for his short pieces of work and I have always read them as short stories. This leads me to Aesop and the Grimm brothers and their “fables” and “tales”. What links these would be the presence of a moral, that there is something to be learned after the reading. I’m not quite sure if I agree that modern day writers of short stories are not in fact writing “tales”, but thank you for piquing my curiosity to learn more about “tales” and “short stories” and “fables” and the differences between them. I am now gathering my memories of recently read short stories by modern writers to compare with YGB to notice similarities.

I’m thinking that Dickens “A Christmas Carol” may also be placed in the category of a tale, or fable. Scrooge wonders if his experiences were real, or whether or not he was dreaming. This question is also a lingering question in YGB. It is unclear whether or not the events in YGB actually happened. I see the experiences of Brown to be dreamlike. If you read it as if it were a dream, I think it changes the overall outcome, or the overall feeling. For Brown to have this dream would suggest to me that he was predisposed to evil, and the dream featuring people from the church would somehow justify this evil. YGB could be seen as paranoid, HA! Just like some of Poe’s characters.

What’s interesting is that “Faith” never leaves him. She wants him to stay home, but then appears in the woods, “Faith” has followed him. I think there should have been a character named “Hope”, because hope is what he losses. His “Faith” changes, becomes less innocent, but is a constant in his life enduring a long marriage. His hope seems to have been lost forever.

Thanks, Suzanne. You've done the story better justice than I did. As for this difference between the short story and the tale/fable, of course it's not a strict division, and I think you've indicated what some of the difference consists of. The tale to my mind would have a clearer ancestry in the oral tradition; it would consist of feats and wonders and perhaps as you said include a nice moral for the audience. It would tend to be populated by stock characters, and the point would be what happens to the characters, but not in a manner as to emphasize any subtle changes in their understandings or personalities. I think it's probably natural that a national literature would start with the tale/fable, as it's more a folk form than a literary one.

The tale and and the short story are both in the category of short fiction, but the second seems to develop after the first. Not that the tale dies out and the story completely takes over. Twain was still writiing partly in the tradition of the tale, while his exact contemporary Henry James had pioneered (for Americans) the literary short story. Twain's stories would lend themselves well to oral reading, while for me, at least, James is to be read silently.



Last edited by DWill on Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:41 am
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
Wow, wouldn't YGB be a great story to tell around the fire at night while camping!



Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:51 pm
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
DWill wrote:
Twain was still writiing partly in the tradition of the tale, while his exact contemporary Henry James had pioneered (for Americans) the literary short story. Twain's stories would lend themselves well to oral reading, while for me, at least, James is to be read silently.


Very interesting observation, Dwill. I would agree that it would be very difficult to listen to listen to, say, an audiobook of Henry James's stories while Twain's would probably work great.

Suzanne wrote:
Suzanne wrote:
If you read it as if it were a dream, I think it changes the overall outcome, or the overall feeling. For Brown to have this dream would suggest to me that he was predisposed to evil, and the dream featuring people from the church would somehow justify this evil.


No, this is wrong, it is backwards. Brown has lost faith and hope in humanity due to the injustices commited on innocent people during the witch trials of Salem. He is predisposed to believing that people are primarily good, but because of the horror he sees in Salem, he realizes that he can no longer distinquish between good and evil. Hmm . . .


Yes! Maybe! On the Avatar thread someone mentioned that we are still trying to come to terms with atrocities committed against Native Americans and as such we wish to reenact in story form these kinds of conflicts so that we can make sense of them. Nathaniel Hawthorne was fascinated with the Salem witch trials and possibly the role his own grandfather played. There's a certain pathos when you read the story with this in mind and you can see poor Hawthorne trying to understand the nature of good and evil and especially of the hypocrisies in religion. Many of us believe that humans are basically good, but others believe our goodness is only a veneer and that when the chips are down and survival is at stake we are capable of doing horrible things.


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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
He was definitely working out, or trying to work out, what could have happened to to cause these atrocities (Suzy Witten, are you out there?) But he was also obviously trying to figure out, rather obviously, if Faith was a good thing or bad thing, something to be trusted or not, but nevertheless something that would not leave you or you it. You were stuck with it, good or bad. It's worthwhile reading other Hawthorne stories, especially "Rappacini's Daughter" and I enjoy comparing the subtle horror, the doubt, of Hawthorne to the more blatant, more up-front horror of Poe. But the subtlety of both writers is one reason I adore them but immensely dislike S. King.


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Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:29 am
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
I thought it was interesting to read that Hawthorne also had an eye on what was happening in his own time, as he wrote YGB. The Second Great Awakening was occurring, so unlike what I had assumed, Hawthorne bringing this story out wasn't just a comment on a along-past episode of our history, but could have spoken to the growing fervor he himself observed in religion.



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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
Suzanne suggested I post this info here about my book THE AFFLICTED GIRLS:

THE AFFLICTED GIRLS makes Amazon list of recommended books about Salem
Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Recommended-Books ... KX8CM7V4KV

It is one of 2 novels on this list. All the rest are academic non-fiction histories.
The list was compiled by noted Salem historian M. M. Drymon (she posts on Amazon as "Witch Mark")

Suzy



Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:04 pm
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
Hawthorne manages to cram a great deal into 8 pages, an exploration of a man's soul, the place of the church and its 'soul', good and evil through the Puritan lens and the lens of surrounding society and still make the story entertaining and creepy. Like Suzanne said, good fodder for sitting around the campfire on a dark night. He closes with an epilogue, which takes the reader into the future, not just the future of Goodman Brown, but of the society he lives in. Given the grip of the Puritan church, perhaps Hawthorne is wondering if Salem can throw off the legacy of the witch trials and the entrenched Puritanical thinking that went with it ? Well, about 150 years have passed and I guess it has not. The first thing that drew me to read this story was the Salem/witch trial connection. I haven't been to Salem but a quick look at their website tells me that witch tourism is alive and well, including modern day witchery. Somehow, I think Hawthorne would approve.



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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
After reading your post, Giselle, I read Young Goodman Brown for the first time. It definitely has the same "flavor" as my book, THE AFFLICTED GIRLS,which also addresses corruption of the soul in Salem. My point of view and Hawthorne's are similar on some points, different on others, which Oblivion first pointed out. As I'd never read this short story before, I really enjoyed it. So much of what Salem was was so expertly crammed into these descriptive eight pages, who but a genius can do that? Suzy



Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:30 pm
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Post Re: Young Goodman Brown
Quote:
YGB is both allegory and satire, to my thinking. The allegory is obvious, as allegory always is. The satire, concerning the religious obsessions and hypocrisies of the Puritans, is broad and fairly entertaining. I don't see much psychological coherence or depth here, unlike in Hawthorne's masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter.

I pretty much agree with DWill here. As was said before, allegory and irony are the keynotes of "Young Goodman Brown." Someone said somewhere that Hawthorn always gave his character's meaningful names.

This does not have the depth or subtly of The Scarlet Letter but it is more of a slap in the face of Puritan hypocrites. Brown's suspicion of his wife hurts her, this neighbors, but mostly himself.


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