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Essay/Term paper: Diversity of hawthorne's writings in "young goodman brown", "ethan brand", and "the birthmark"

Essay, term paper, research paper:  World Literature

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Diversity of Hawthorne's Writings in "Young Goodman Brown", "Ethan Brand", and
"The Birthmark" .

Michael Duncan ENG. 111 T/TH 9:30 am

"... it is no delusion. There is an Unpardonable Sin!" , a quote
by Ethan Brand that is at the root of many stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Nathaniel Hawthornes gloomy, dark style of writing is an emphasis on his theme
of evil at societies heart. Writing about what he knew Hawthorne described the
puritan society in different periods of time and defined different characters
but all connected through his style. The stories that exemplify the diversity
of Hawthornes writing are "Young Goodman Brown" , " Ethan Brand" , and "The
Birthmark" .

Having read these stories it is possible to become engrossed in
the darkness that is portrayed and none is better than "Young Goodman Brown" .
Young Goodman Brown, the character, is first introduced to us in the clearing of
Salem village and we learn that he has faith in the goodness of the village and
Faith for his companion as well. The people that we meet in Salem village in
the first few paragraphs are just Goodman and Faith. These two characters are
very important to understand for their surface characters or illusional
characters. It is soon learned that Goodman Brown is not such a good man and
later Faith shows us just as much false character. Goodman and Faith are not
the only characters that are not all they seem to be. We come to meet more
characters in the short story that are superficial as is the village itself.
Goodman Brown leaves the bright, warm, goodness of his village to make a journey
in the woods to meet a stranger. A good place to meet a stranger would be
these surrounding woods of Salem for it is here that described by Nathaniel
Hawthorne that "He had taken a dreary road,darkened by all the gloomiest trees
of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through,
and closed immediately behind." and like the scheming mind of an evil person
the dark woods leads one down the wrong pathway.

The woods are not an allusion as was the village, the woods are
exactly what they seem to be therefore the characters met inside the woods will
be as shady as the woods themselves. Leading Goodman Brown to his despair is
the first character, the stranger. The stranger is much older than the Goodman
but the two converse easily and both understand each other even though they
talk around Goodmans evil purpose. It is this easy conversation that Hawthorne
writes to us about Goodmans evil. Though Goodman Brown believes himself to be
alone in his journey down the trail the stranger tells him that it is a beaten
path and has been taken even by his father. So does the world that has been
built up around Goodman Brown begin to crumble and with the first blow he is
set up for more devastation into the world of the devil. " Wickedness or not,
I have a very general acquaintance here in New England." The devilish stranger
explains how even the noblest of people have an evil in their character and
those who hide are those who are trusted the most. Many of these characters
that the stranger knows are companions of the Goodman and these are Goody
Cloyce ,the Deacon, the other patriots of Salem, and even his own wife Faith
who he sees worshiping in the woods behind a hazy fire. By telling the story of
a devil worshiping town in Salem, which is already known for its witch scare,
Hawthorne tries to convey his beliefs that in all of humanity there can and is
evil. For those who believe themselves to be good are not and those who do not

" Ethan Brand" is a different sort of story that will take place in
the side of a mountain where a man and his son and one particular a llimekiln
stoaker enter the scene. Visualized to us by Hawthorne Bartram and his son are
sitting by the kiln, Bartram the steady worker burns limestone and talks to his
son about Ethan Brand. Ethan Brand is a mystery and is representative of the
people who are not understood or who may be the outcasts of society. Ethan
Brand was a mystery to his townspeople who by leaving the daily routine of
life and discontinuing the collective society was branded an outcast and maybe
even evil. Hawthorne tries to tell the reader through the words of the
character Ethan Brand about the unpardonable sins in the world. " what need
have I of the Devil? I have left him behind me, on my track. It is with such
halfway sinners as you that he busies himself. Fear not because I open the door.
I do but act by old custom, and am going to trim your fire, like a lime-burner,
as I was once." by this one statement Ethan Brand decides that he is not a
pawn of the devil as thought to be. The characters that Nathaniel Hawthorne
writes about in this story are on the opposite side of the good and evil
idealism. These characters are not worshiping the Devil as those in " Young
Goodman Brown" but are just as devilish in their track of thought. Both ,
described by Hawthorne, are small towns and the thinking is small as well.
This small thinking connects them and I believe that Hawthorne meant the group
opposed to the individual are the devils pawns. Though the main characters in
the stories believe themselves to be evil somehow Hawthorne portrays them to
have the most humanity of any of the characters. " There are many such lime-
kilns in that tract of country, for the purpose of burning white marble which
composes a large part of the substance of the hills. Some of them, built years
ago, and long deserted, with weeds growing in the vacant round of the
interior..." setting the scene for the Devils advocates Hawthorne writes about
the hills of the limekilns. The vivid details of the characters surroundings
shapes the characters themselves and we read about them both to help understand
Hawthornes idea of evil in humanity. Overall in the description of both these
the reader can visualize how a person can be evil.

Evil is at the root of the story in " The Birthmark" for it is here that
Hawthorne writes about the most sinful character. In all of the seven deadly
sins committed by man; the deadliest of all is pride. Priding ones self is
terrible but carrying this vanity to another can be deadly. After reading " The
Birthmark" the character Aylmer finds for himself that pride costed him dearly,
he lost his lovely wife. Aylmer is representative of the sin pride. Hawthorne
describes the character in such a way that Aylmer portrays himself as Godlike.
The character Aylmer is evil because according to Hawthorne " He had devoted
himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from
them by any second passion.". Is this the possible pride that leads a man to be
considered evil? Yes, according to evidence in the story Hamthorne makes the
character Aylmer in human by taking away his passion for his wife and having it
replaced by passion for only his work. Hawthorne describes Aylmers
preoccupation with perfecting his wifes beauty in the story when writing " At
all the seasons which should have been their happiest, he invariably and
without intending it, nay, in spite of a purpose to the contrary reverted to
this one disastrous topic." . Through this text the author creates a character
that we may see into in order to reveal the one tracked mind. Pride is the
ultimate goal for Aylmar; he intends to make a prize of his wife by trying to
make her extraordinary person and alleviating any blemishes. His wife
Georgianais the innocent victim in the story because she must follow her
husbands wishes. Hawthorne once again writing in his time period made
traditional characters of society and these people were in an average class;
henceforth keeping traditional good and evil characters as in many fiction
stories. Hawthorne has created a couple who are the examples of good and evil;
Georgiana has the mark of innocence upon her and Aylmer carries delusions of
grandeur. Georgiana is admired for her beauty by the publics eye and Aylmer is
envied by the same. Hawthorne tells us outright that the two are not happy but
what must be understood is that because Aylmer is unhappy with her birthmark ,
" My peerless bride, it is successful! You are perfect!, ...dearest Aylmer, I
am dying." , pays the ultimate price for perfection.

Nathaniel Hawthorne is a world renowned writer for his many skills
but especially for his vivid descriptions of gloom and darkness. These skills
define his writing and have an affect on the reader of astonishment. The dark
gloomy writing that Hawthorne portrays in all of these stories give an insight
to the evil of normal people and how it has fatal potential.


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