Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

So begins my foray into horror short stories! Seeing as I didn't really have any idea where to start in this book, I figured I would start with the first story by American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. Andd I sincerely hope that not all the stories in this anthology are similar to this one.

Young Goodman Brown is a very religious book, based on Hawthorne's growing up in New England in the 1800's. My understanding of this story is that Brown leaves his young wife Faith one night with the intentions of joining a witch's circle in the wilderness. After meeting the elderly traveler who is to lead him toward the circle, he expresses hesitation and doubt about committing such a sinful act, and the effects that it may have on himself and his wife, but the traveler convinces him to resume the trip to the meeting regardless.

Once they make it to the meeting, Brown realizes that many of the members of this meeting are goodly, God-respecting people and he is quite surprised at some of the faces (the mayor, Brown's wife Faith... wait, his WIFE?!) and he attempts to stop his wife from partaking in the devil worship and acts of the night just before losing consciousness. Upon awakening, he is no longer the person he was; it is as if the witch's meeting the night before, be it real or a dream, but he became sullen and depressed, no longer able to pray or to tolerate even hearing prayers or song. In my opinion, it sounds as though the potential for him to sin detracted from his life, and sentenced him to a life of gloom and misery.

Okay, I'm assuming this was a little more of a horror story back in 1835 when it was published to a much more pious audience than today's readers. I was more than a little confused, because so little actually happens in this story. Or maybe I'm just not yet in the short story groove, and am used to much more plot and development (and about 300 more pages in a story). All told, I was a little let down, and am definitely hoping that the story I plan to read for tomorrow, "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe, is a little more on par with my whole I-wanna-be-scared thing. It would have to be though, right? I mean, it is Edgar Allan Poe..


1 comment:

  1. Hello my love!

    First of all, I'm so excited for this project of yours! I love horror and short stories so I am super excited to see what you read. I plan on getting inspired to check out some new stories!

    Second, I love "Young Goodman Brown" and I was pleased to see this was your first post. I agree, however, it is rather vague. It's one of those stories that grows on you, the more you think about it. I first read it in freshman year of college and was sort of "...ok" A couple years later I encountered again and I realized how thoroughly creepy and depressing it is.

    It was pretty subversive of Hawthorne to write about these God-fearing Puritans appearing as Satanists and witches and I thought it was very clever of him to never be clear if the witches' meeting was real or if Brown dreamed it. The fact that he can never trust his neighbors and even his wife was another cool element.

    I would also recommend checking out Stephen King's short story "The Man in the Black Suit" (it's in the volume Everything's Eventual). It is a contemporary homage to "Young Goodman Brown" and, in my opinion, one of King's scariest stories. Quick read too.

    Okay, time to stop rambling. Can't wait to see the rest!!