Young Goodman Brown
Young Goodman Brown , German The Young Neighbor Brown , is a short story by the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne , which first appeared in April 1835 in New England Magazine . The story takes place in 17th century New England at the time of the Puritans and the Salem Witch Trials (1692). Because of its ambiguity, this is one of Hawthorne's most widely interpreted short stories . The focus is on a ghostly wandering of the protagonist, a young man named Goodman Brown, through the nocturnal forest to face evil. Marked and changed by this experience, after his return until the hour of his death in his puritanical environment he can only recognize Phariseeism, hypocrisy and sin.
One sunset night shortly after his wedding, Young Goodman Brown says goodbye to his wife, Faith. Despite her protests, but with her blessing, he goes to the forest outside Salem to meet a dark fellow there. He witnessed an eerie ritual meeting of the "community of the wicked" in which many respected members of his community participate, including the pastor, the catechism teacher and his own wife, but also mocked sinners.
A dark figure leads the meeting and promises enlightenment - however, Brown resists evil and is suddenly alone in the forest.
The next morning Brown returns to his village and shrinks from his good old pastor, is afraid for a child who is being taught by Goody Gloyse, the teacher, and refuses to kiss his happy wife. Did he fall asleep in the forest and only dream the witches' meeting?
Dream or reality, Brown becomes a desperate, hopeless man who hears evil and blasphemy in hymns and sermons, and freezes when his wife and children kneel to pray. After his death, no verse is engraved on his tombstone because the hour of his death was marked by darkness.
An important characteristic of Hawthorne's novels and short stories is ambiguity. This story, too, is full of ambiguous statements. The ambiguity of this narrative arises mainly from the projection of the main events into the atmosphere of the dream and their simultaneous questioning. The unequal relationship between commentary and narrative report also reinforces the secret nature of this story. A striking example of the narrator's ambiguity is found in his last statement about the reality of Goodman Brown's experiences:
Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting? Be it so if you will ;
“Did Goodman Brown fall asleep in the woods and only dream the crazy dream of a witch's meeting? Let it be like that if you want. "
Since authorial notes on interpretation are almost completely absent, the degree of uncertainty in the text and thus the scope for interpretation increases accordingly. Accordingly, while the majority of critics consider Young Goodman Brown to be one of Hawthorne's best short stories, they disagree about their meaning. The critics give various topics as topics:
- the reality of sin,
- the penetration of evil,
- the hidden sin and hypocrisy of all men,
- the hypocrisy of Puritanism,
- the consequence of doubt or disbelief,
- the crushing power of moral skepticism
- or the demoralizing power of the discovery that all human beings are hypocrites and sinners.
Young Goodman Brown's reception of contemporary literary criticism was mixed. Herman Melville put the content of the story on a par with Dante's work ( “as deep as Dante” ), while Henry James' judgment was rather derogatory or muted: “The magnificent little romance of Young Goodman Brown (...) evidently means nothing as regards Hawthorne's own state of mind, his conviction of human depravity and his consequent melancholy; for the simple reason if it meant anything it would mean too much "
In Young Goodman Brown , Hawthorne's color symbolism is used as a leitmotif , which, as in the novel The Scarlet Letter published in 1850, serves to identify the psychological state between malice and innocence. The pink ribbons ( "pink ribbons" ) to Faith's hat, with its color quality between "scarlet" are (dt. "Scarlet") and "white" in the atmospheric contrast to the color "brown" in the name of the title character link, and soundtrack important elements in the temptation process of the protagonist, which archetypically corresponds to the biblical representation in Genesis III, 1 - 7.
The structure- forming metaphor of travel and the wilderness in Hawthorne's story is in the literary tradition of John Bunyan , who in The Pilgrim's Progress allegorically depicts the protagonist 's life as a journey through the seductive wilderness of this world to the heavenly Jerusalem. With these echoes of the archetypal tempted man, Goodman Brown is, in a sense, portrayed as some sort of new Puritan Adam. However, the motif of the journey, which already characterizes the first two sections of the story (crossing the threshold, kissing goodbye, wandering), is reversed by Hawthorne in the further course of the story to a journey to the devil cult. The numerous biblical allusions and motifs such as narrow path, journey to heaven, the staff of Moses, erect snake or pulpit, sermon, baptism, altar, communion and liturgy are also twisted as design elements or expanded contextually to a foreign area. The profanation of the biblical references and the connection with stations or props of the Witches' Sabbath allows an understanding or a reading of the Hawthornian narrative as a biblical counterfactor .
- The young neighbor Brown . German by Hannelore Neves and Siegfried Schmitz. In: Nathaniel Hawthorne: Stories. Sketches, forewords, reviews . Winkler, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-538-05255-7 .
- The young Goodman Brown . German by Lore Krüger . in: Nathaniel Hawthorne: Mr. Higginbotham's Doom. Selected stories . Edited by Heinz Förster. Insel-Verlag, Leipzig 1979.
- The young Goodman Brown . German by Heiko Postma . jmb , Hannover 2013, ISBN 978-3-944342-25-2 .
- Godfather Brown . German by Elisabeth Schnack . In: American Narrators: From Washington Irving to Dorothy Parker. Ed. And transl. by Elisabeth Schnack. Manesse Verlag, 7th edition Zurich 1996, ISBN 3-7175-1008-8 .
- Werner Arens: Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown . Karl Heinz Göller and Gerhard Hoffmann (eds.): The American short story . August Bagel Verlag, Düsseldorf 1972, ISBN 3-513-02212-3 , pp. 36-48.
- Harold Bloom (Ed.): Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations) . Chelsea House, Philadelphia 2004, ISBN 978-0791081242 .
- Thomas E. Connolly (Ed.): Nathaniel Hawthorne: Young Goodman Brown . Merrill, Columbus OH 1968, ISBN 978-0675095624 .
- Werner Arens: Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown . Karl Heinz Göller and Gerhard Hoffmann (eds.): The American short story . August Bagel Verlag, Düsseldorf 1972, ISBN 3-513-02212-3 , p. 36 f.
- Cf. Werner Arens: Hawthorne · Young Goodman Brown . Karl Heinz Göller and Gerhard Hoffmann (eds.): The American short story . August Bagel Verlag, Düsseldorf 1972, ISBN 3-513-02212-3 , p. 48.
- Quoted from Werner Arens: Hawthorne · Young Goodman Brown . Karl Heinz Göller and Gerhard Hoffmann (eds.): The American short story . August Bagel Verlag, Düsseldorf 1972, ISBN 3-513-02212-3 , p. 36.
- See Werner Arens: Hawthorne · Young Goodman Brown . Karl Heinz Göller and Gerhard Hoffmann (eds.): The American short story . August Bagel Verlag, Düsseldorf 1972, ISBN 3-513-02212-3 , pp. 38 and 41.
- See Werner Arens: Hawthorne · Young Goodman Brown . Karl Heinz Göller and Gerhard Hoffmann (eds.): The American short story . August Bagel Verlag, Düsseldorf 1972, ISBN 3-513-02212-3 , p. 42.