The story ‘Young Goodman Brown’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne shows the struggle of the internal conflict faced by one man in choosing between good and evil. The man believes in good but the whole community is surrounded by evil doings. Mr. Goodman Brown embarks on a trip deep into the dark forest. He does this so as to justify his faith in being a Puritan. He leaves his wife, Faith behind and as he walks in the forest’s depth, he encounters the devil that convinces him to walk the crooked path with him. Brown struggles to fight back the evil that is inside him. He tries to convince himself to go back to his faith, but the devil works so hard in trying to make him lose this faith. Brown’s faith in doing good was strong but is shaken when he sees his childhood catechism teacher and gets to know that she has also turned to the evil. This deters his confidence in faith completely and it gets worse when he gets to the middle of the forest and sees the whole community engaged in satanic acts. This stirs up the conflict within him on whether to stick to doing good or join the majority in the evil ways. This is a similar conflict to the ‘Rocking-horse Winner’ where the family is torn between believing the truth that they do not have money, or keep thinking of themselves as rich (Hawthorne, 2005 pg 13).
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In the ‘Rocking-house Winner’ by D.H. Lawrence, there is the conflict of the family living in luxury. Despite the father of this family not being lucky to have money, the family still believes that they do have a lot of money. Paul is the boy in this family and he realises there is a conflict when it comes to money and the family needs more of it. The mother says she became unlucky after getting married because she had money before that (Lawrence, 1966 pg 7). The conflict develops when the boy, Paul, gets to know that he has a lucky hand in betting. He bets on horses and wins himself a lot of money which he gives to his mother. His mother however does not know the source of that money.
The characters in both of these books play a major similar role which is developing the themes and morals of stories. This can be drawn from the qualities that they possess and the roles that they play in developing the story. In the ‘Young Goodman Brown’, Mr. Brown is a man who portrays the importance of faith and doing good. He tries to fight back all the temptations within him to join in the satanic nature that his community has indulged in. The devil plays a role of being the evil enforcer. He helps develop theme of evil in the story as he lures Mr. Brown into the forest and tries to convince him to turn away from doing good. To do this, he uses Mr. Brown’s former teacher Mrs. Goody Cloyse to shake up his confidence, as Mrs. Cloyse is already part of the satanic acts and is even attending a Witch’s meeting. Mr. Browns’ wife, Faith, plays a big role in keeping up his faith in believing in the good. Mr. Brown is resistant in giving in to the devils wishes as he knows he has left his wife behind and this keeps the faith in him strong. His wife helps build on the theme of doing good and believing in ones’ faith in goodness (Lawrence, 1966 pg5).
In the ‘Rocking-horse Winner’, the characters also play a major role in building up the story and the themes in it. The boy in the family, Paul, helps portray the theme of unselfishness and generosity when he goes out to seek wealth for his family through gambling and he willingly gives it to his mother. His mother is important in developing the theme on materialism as she comes out in the story complaining about how she used to have money before she got married. She also shows greed as she is not content with what she has but wants to have more of it. She wants to live above her income. This greed causes her unhappiness and in the end, the death of her son too. The theme about the destructive power of materialism is reinforced by Paul’s uncle who in the end ironically states that Paul was mad and he was now better of dead as he was free from agony of satisfying his mother (Hawthorne, 2005 pg 9).
Both the setting of these two stories played the role of creating the suspense and making the narration of the story more realistic to the situations. In the ‘Young Goodman Brown’, the story is set deep in the forest. This is significant because the forest gives a perfect setting for evil spirits and evil practises to take place. The devil appears to Mr. Brown in the forest and begins to lead him deep into it. This creates the suspense about the evil nature of a dark forest and it keeps the readers guessing on what might be coming next. In the story ‘The Rocking-horse Winner’, the setting also plays an important role in developing the themes in the story. The story revolves in the family’s household. The house they live in is nice and big and it is fully equipped. It has got a lot of staff who include gardeners and housekeepers giving a sense of wealthy living. However, much as they are comfortable in this house, the family has got money problems. This has stressed the members in the family but no one utters a word. This setting is significant to the story in bringing out the money problems and the theme on materialism.
The themes in these two stories are both significant in the morals about the doing good in the society while considering how what we do affect others and not just ourselves. In the ‘Rocking-horse Winner’, the author brings out the theme on materialism and greed. Paul’s mother is so materialistic and she lives beyond her means. She keeps on complaining that the money is not enough and wants to have more of it. Her greed for more money makes her son, Paul to engage himself in gambling at the horse tracks just so he could make money to satisfy his mother. However, the mother’s greed for wealth is too much and eventually leads to him stretching his limits to satisfy her and in the process he meets his death. His mother was acting only on her own personal interests without thinking of what might happen to her son. In the story ‘Young Goodman Brown’ however, the writer portrays the theme of evil and good and how good can overcome evil. When Mr. Brown is confronted by the devil, the devil tries to convince him join the evil ways. Despite being in the forest, Mr. Brown however still believes in doing good and acts in the best interest of his wife Faith and his community. He is not selfish to give into the devils lures. He refuses to lose his faith and engage in evil. In this story, the theme about faith is portrayed through Mr. Brown’s Strong stand in what he believes in.
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