Solitude And Isolation Of Hawthorne And Young Goodman Brown

2101 words - 8 pages

 
        In the Nathaniel Hawthorne tale, “Young Goodman Brown,” we see and feel the solitude/isolation of the protagonist, Goodman. Is this solitude not a reflection of the very life of the author?

At the very outset of the tale we see a purposeful secretiveness if not outright deception by Goodman Brown when his wife of three months pleads with him to stay home on this particular night:

"Dearest heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, "pr'ythee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed tonight. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she's afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!"

 

"My love and my Faith," replied young Goodman Brown, "of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done 'twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married!"

 

Goodman’s secretiveness/deception is an indicator from the very beginning of the tale and the beginning of his married life that he is a loner, an isolationist – one who is not a  naturally gregarious sort of individual.

 

Throughout the majority of the story, Goodman is alone with the devil – veritable solitude. And at the climax of the tale Brown is left totally alone in the middle of the forest:

 

Whether Faith obeyed, he knew not. Hardly had he spoken, when he found himself amid calm night and solitude, listening to a roar of the wind, which died heavily away through the forest. He staggered against the rock, and felt it chill and damp, while a hanging twig, that had been all on fire, besprinkled his cheek with the coldest dew.

 

When Goodman entered Salem village the next day, he was totally isolated psychologically from every resident of the town, even his own wife. This state would continue until his dying day:

 

The next morning, young Goodman Brown came slowly into the street of Salem village, staring around him like a bewildered man. The good old minister . . . . He shrank from the venerable saint, as if to avoid an anathema. Old Deacon Gookin was at domestic worship, and the holy words of his prayer were heard through the open window. "What

God doth the wizard pray to?" quoth Goodman Brown. Goody Cloyse, that excellent old Christian, stood in the early sunshine, at her own lattice, catechising a little girl, who had brought her a pint of morning's milk. Goodman Brown snatched away the child, as from the grasp of the fiend himself. Turning the corner by the meeting-house, he spied the head of Faith. . . . But Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting.

 

. . . Often, awaking suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith, and at morning or eventide, when the family...

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