Young Goodman Brown
by Nathaniel Hawthorne The same event, or chain of events, can be seen in different ways through the eyes of different people. This is perfectly illustrated by comparing the stories "Rappacini's Daughter" and "Young Goodman Brown", both by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In both these stories there are similar events with similar figures involved. The two scenes both have a dialogue between lovers. The results of the scenes are also very similar. In both, the person who was formerly thought of as evil turns out to be pure and good, and the person who was formerly thought of as pure and good ends up being evil. The tables are turned. However, in one story, the person who comes out on top is the good person, while in the other story the evil person comes out on top. The way the lovers see each other leads to the way that the reader views them. It's as if the reader is placed into the argument. In "Young Goodman Brown" the two characters involved are Goodman Brown and his wife Faith. At first we think of Faith as a "blessed angel" as signified by her general innocence and her pink ribbons. Contrasted to her is Goodman Brown, who is about to embark on his "present evil purpose". However, their images of each other change in their confrontation. This meeting takes place in a dark forest, as they are about to be accepted into the evil community of those around them. Goodman Brown is seen as innocent in this scene when he cries "Faith! Faith!...look up to heaven and resist the wicked one." On the other hand, in their only other meeting we know about after that scene, Goodman Brown looks disdainfully upon his wife, causing the reader to feel the same way. This escalates to the point where he even "passed on without a greeting" to his beloved wife, making her the evil one of the two. The exact same chain of events occurs in "Rappacini's Daughter" (in a similar setting). At first Beatrice is believed to be the "accursed one" and a "poisonous thing". Giovanni is the good one comparatively. This is shown by Beatrice's quote: "I, it is true, am the horrible thing thou namest me. But thou what hast thou to do." However, things change by the end of the conversation between the two lovers (which takes place in the garden, surrounded by evil plants). This is most simply put by Beatrice's remark to Giovanni, "Oh, was there not from the very first, more poison in thy nature then in mine?" It turns out that although on the outside Beatrice is evil and Giovanni is good, on the inside Beatrice is the pure one and Giovanni is bad. The difference is the way in which one views the outcome of these two scenes. The way a person sees an outcome of an argument depends on through which character's point of view it is seen. The outcome of an argument is always a change in the feelings of a person. In these two stories the reader sees the scene through the eyes of the main character, or the character on whom the story focuses and never has a scene without. Although our view of the characters comes from both of them, we can only see the feelings of the main character, to whom we feel, in a manner, attached to. In "Young Goodman Brown" the reader sees the story through the eyes of Goodman Brown, the main character. His role in the story is the lover who begins as evil and ends up being good. On the other hand, in "Rappacini's Daughter" the main character is Giovanni, and we therefore see the confrontation through his eyes. In the story he is the person who starts out as good and ends up being evil. The effects of this fact don't take place until after the confrontations. Goodman Brown, the person who ends up being good has a horrible end to his life and "his dying hour was Gloom". With Giovanni, the person who ends up being bad, the reader has the feeling that he is the person who ends up losing from the confrontation. This is because he is the one who is left by his lover, while his lover leaves for a place that she wants. She says that she is going to a place where "evil...will pass away like a dream". In these quarrels between lovers, the person who ends up being good is the equivalent of the person who is justified in a real life fight between lovers. Yet we see that no matter from whose point of view we see the story, the other person always seems to come out on top. So the moral is that no one truly benefits from a fight between lovers. In these stories, both the person who is in the end good, or justified (Goodman Brown), and the person who ends up being evil, or unjustified (Giovanni), seem to themselves to be the losers in the end. Therefore, if this is applied to our lives, we see that whether we are justified or not, we will seem to ourselves to be the losers of an argument.