Writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne

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

³... it is no delusion. There is an Unpardonable Sin!² , 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 ³ Young Goodman

Brown² , ³ Ethan Brand² , and ³The Birthmark² .

Having read these stories it is possible to become engrossed in the darkness

that is portrayed and none is better than ³ Young Goodman Brown² . 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

³He 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.² 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. ³ Wickedness or not, I have a very general acquaintance here in New England.²

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 are.

³ Ethan Brand² 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.