Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was born on July 4, 1804, in Massachusetts state of United States of America, has been prominent not only in America, but also in entire globe due to his excellence writing skills. As Meltzer (2006) explains it was not a simple task for Hawthorne as it is well known that during his time, very few American writers coasted into fame and fortune (p. 9). Hawthorne prowess in writing, especially in novel and poems, has made him to become a reference figure in the writing profession. In this paper I will analyze the two famous works of Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Scarlet Letter".
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These two stories are appropriate for me to compare and contrast, because they have many similarities. In young Goodman Brown, writer narrates a journey through a mysterious paths, which is composed of witches and wicked behavior in the outskirt of a puritan village. He demonstrates his writing skills by giving a clear difference between good and evil thus permitting creativeness to prevail. The readers also are set to be curious throughout, being not sure which side the heroines is. Sumner and Miller (2009) writing with suspense keeps the reader wondering how the story will turn out (p. 124).
The sin element is also found in the "The Scarlet Letter" story, however, it is not in forest, but embodied in the symbol by Hester Prynne. In the both stories writer has used wood, explaining them as the place, which whispers secrets of the town. In the Scarlet Letter, we find that Hester committed her crime of passion in the wood, yet eccentrically enough it is the place where she was convicted to be most peaceful in the world. Goodman used woods to show the ambiguity of the town, and in the process found out that, the world was not as enjoyable as he had perceived. Following that trip to woods, Goodman was completely transformed.
When you continue to explore the story of Hester in the Scarlet Letter, it is reviewed that, woods turns out to be a place of privacy and escape. According to Solove (2007) one challenge we normally face in exposed world is that of information, which rarely hidden (p. 12). Hester was escaping the whispers of the town, and attraction created to many with the symbol she boldly carried in her chest. The natural scene in the woods was the main point of attraction to her, thus she felt satisfied whenever she was there with her daughter Pearl. Hester reviews how she was excited with the babbling of the stream, the joy of her child, and invisible minister, when she was in the woods. She could walk through meadows meditating how this place was beautiful and helped him to get relieved.
Hester holds her Scarlet letter, applying it to protect her and pearl from the authoritative puritan society. This embarrassing symbol turns to the source of encouragement to Hester and she parades around the town together with pearl without any fear. Hester seems to be overconfident to wear the symbol fearlessly upon her chest; however it is due to the fact that she was a shining light to the society where she lived.
According to Hawthorne, every character in Salem where Goodman resided knew about or had gone through the path leading to the mysterious woods where all did not come along as perceived. The woods are expressed as bad and evil, men normally clear the woods, if there were any suggestion of witches brew and women supported them joyfully. This appears to be different from the story of Hester, whereby she began her trip as a sign of adultery. The woods were viewed as a humble place, a symbol of peace and harmony, described as a place one would go to be pleased with nature. Both Goodman and Hester undergoes a dynamic life events in the woods, however, the way each approaches the new life is very distinct from each other. For instance Good began his journey losing everything whereas Hester had nothing to lose. The approach of these two characters, absolutely different in nature, reveals their eventual fate.
Young Goodman Brown started his trip in the woods bearing in the mind that he is getting into devil's playground. From the start, he has a negative attitude, which a bad approach to this mission. The main reason why Goodman had this attitude toward the mission was due to his selfishness, to find out what exist beyond the mysterious forest. Goodman left his faithful wife and followed his conscience which leads him foolishly down the path to the iniquity that waited forth. According to Rand and Branden (1964);
Most men do not accept or practice either side of altruism's viciously false dichotomy, but its result is a total intellectual chaos on the issues of proper human relationships and on such questions as the nature, or extent of the help one may give to others (p. 173).
Goodman in his mission, he experienced his worst panic in deep woods and is possible for of to assume that he visualized his future and past there. Goodman, upon his return is surprised to find his wife, taken from him and the evil he overlooked now appears clear as a day. He knew what was awaiting him, when he entered the woods.
After Goodman discovered what had happened, he could not believe and went back to his dirty facts a discouraged and confused man upon the realization of sin. He discards his world and assumes that all he experienced in the woods was true. He believed that evil was common, and thus views is better to accept it then to overlook it. Whereas Hester started her journey by knowing the sin, Goodman had to go through it in order to realize it. Hester also accepts her punishment of sin, while Goodman tries to run from the truth and live the rest of his life in isolation planning not to face it again.
This aspect of isolation can viewed as both strength and weakness. Both Hester and Goodman separated themselves from human form voluntarily, without being intimidated by anybody. Goodman, resolves to go against world and ignore it completely and starts living his own live alone and pessimistic. On the other hand, Hester turns to be the symbol which was humbled for, showing it without fear on her chest. In her strategy to justify for future action, and changing the embarrassing symbol to a positive model to other people, Hester used her crime.
The stories of Hawthorne's "Goodman Brown" and "The Scarlet Letter" are very comprehensive. The literature application is excellent are it has depicted what is good and evil, what belongs to dark and what belongs to light, what is beautiful and what is ugly. One notable thing, and which Hawthorne deserve appreciation is the manner in which he combines both features of a character so intensely leaving the reader wondering the ending.
In conclusion, we can generally agree, despite the fact that these two stories differ in various ways, character in each stories undergoes emotional ride to find who they are, evaluating the strength and revealing the weaknesses. On his side, Goodman determined the depraved ways of man and sin; he goes back with full understanding of sin knowing it exist. Hester on her side she allowed a dream of a selfish minister who compelled her to counter crime alone, thus being responsible alone.
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