301 Reading Questions on Hawthorne's
"Young Goodman Brown"
Be able to define the following
vocabulary terms and apply them to the literature we read
allegory, Calvinism, Gothic,
Character Identifications: Young Goodman
Brown, Faith Brown, Goody Cloyse, Deacon Gookin, the
(1) What are the differences and what are the similarities
between Transcendentalism and Romanticism?
(2) What does the title "goodman" and "goodwife/goody"
mean in Puritan society?
Introduction: How was
Hawthorne's grandfather connected with the Salem witch
trials? How might that familial guilt have influenced
Hawthorne's depiction of the Puritans?
- Where is young Goodman Brown headed after sunset?
- What signs do we see in the text that this destination
is a frightening one on this particular night of the
- With what character is
the leit-motif of the pink ribbon associated? Why
for this character?
- How is Brown's wife an allegorical figure given her
- How is Brown's own name and title potentially allegorical?
Where does Brown fit on the spectrum of black and white?
- Who does Brown meet first in the dark woods? Why
do you suppose that figure appear the way the does
in terms of clothing and mannerisms?
- What is this figure's connection with Brown's family,
if we can believe the figure's claims?
- Who is Goody Cloyse? Why was she special to Brown
in the development of his beliefs?
- What falls from the sky that convinces Brown his
wife is attending the witches' sabbat?
- Who attends the Satanic coven in the woods, i.e.,
what sort of people?
- What happens when Brown calls out to Faith to look
to heaven rather than partake of the unholy ceremony?
- How does this event--real or imagined--affect Brown's
interactions with his community?
- What is carved on Brown's tombstone when he dies?
Be able to identify the source
of the following quotations and explain their significance:
heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly,
when her lips were close to his ear, "pr'y thee,
put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your
own bed to-night. 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!"
B. "Poor little Faith!" thought
he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am
I, to leave her on such an errand! . . . Well; she's
a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night,
to her skirts
and follow her to Heaven."
C. . . . The second traveller was about
fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life
Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance to him.
. . .
They might have been taken for father and son. He had
an indescribable air of one who knew the world, and would
not have felt
abashed at the governor's dinner-table, or in King William's
court. But the only thing about him, that could
be fixed upon as remarkable, was his staff, which bore
the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought,
that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself
like a living serpent. This, of course, must have been
an ocular deception, assisted by the uncertain light.
D. "I have been as well acquainted with
your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and
that's no trifle to say. I helped your grandfather, the
constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly
through the streets of Salem. And it was I that brought
your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth,
to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip's War.
They were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant
walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily
after midnight. I would fain be friends with you, for
E. "That old woman taught me my catechism!" said
the young man; and there was a world of meaning in this
F. The cry of grief, rage, and terror,
was yet piercing the night, when the unhappy husband
held his breath for a response. There was a scream, drowned
immediately in a louder murmur of voices, fading into
far-off laughter, as the dark cloud swept away, leaving
the clear and silent sky above Goodman Brown. But something
fluttered lightly down through the air, and caught on
the branch of a tree. The young man seized it, and beheld
a pink ribbon.
My Faith is gone!" cried he, after one stupefied moment.
G. "Lo! there ye stand, my children," said
the figure, in a deep and solemn tone, almost sad, with
its despairing awfulness, as if his once angelic nature
could yet mourn for our miserable race. "Depending
upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue
were not all a dream! Now are ye undeceived! Evil is
the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness.
Welcome, again, my children, to the communion of your
H. And when he had lived long, and was
borne to his grave, a hoary corpse, followed by Faith,
an aged woman, and children and grand-children, a goodly
procession, besides neighbors, not a few, they carved
no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
- How does the nighttime wilderness serve
as a foil for the daytime village in this story?
- Why is nothing carved on Brown's tombstone?
- Why would Satan look so much like Brown himself? Why is
that creepier than a demon with horns and pitchfork and
- Brown declares that he has "lost his faith." Faith in
what, exactly? God? Or something else?
- When describing the events in the woods, count how
many times Hawthorne uses ambiguous language in diction
like seems, must, appears, perhaps,
and maybe. Why does Hawthorne want to leave
all this so ambiguous? Why not tell us clearly whether
something is happening or not happening?