.. zabeth Easterley who focuses on the lachrymalimagery in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”. “Literary critics have interpreted the significance of Goodman Brown’s experience in many fashions–allegorical, moral, philosophical, and psychological. However there is an intriguing absence of any reference to the last line of the Sabbath scene to explain Hawthorne’s characterization of the young Puritan, despite the fact that Hawthorne signals the importance of the cold drops of dew in a periodic sentence. In essence, Hawthorne here carefully delineates the image of a young man who has faced and failed a critical test of moral and spiritual maturity” (Easterley).
“Young Goodman Brown is reproached by his creator because he shows no compassion for the weaknesses he sees in others, no remorse for his own sin, and no sorrow for his loss of faith. The one action that would demonstrate such deep and redemptive human feelings does not take place. Goodman Brown does not weep. Therefore, Hawthorne quietly and gently sprinkles “the coldest dew” on his cheek to represent the absence of tears” (Easterley). “The lack of tears, the outward sign of an inward reality, posits the absence of the innate love and humility that would have made possible Brown’s moral and spiritual progression. A meticulous artist and a master of symbolism, Hawthorne uses the twig and the dewdrops deliberately. Drops of water on a man’s cheek suggest tears” (Easterley).
“On a moral level, Brown’s acceptance of others as they are–imperfect and subject to temptation–would have made a mature adulthood and productive and healthy relationships with others possible. But his lack of remorse and compassion, as symbolized by the absence of tears, condemns him to an anguished life that is spiritually and emotionally desiccated. The drops that Hawthorne places on Brown’s cheek are of “the coldest dew,” devastating in their connotation, for they represent the coldness of a soul that is dying, in contrast to the regenerative warmth of true tears and love” (Easterley). “Human tears are an emotional response, and Hawthorne’s allusion to the lack of tears underscores Brown’s emotional barrenness. Critical analyses have hitherto focused primarily on Brown’s faulty or immature moral reasoning, arguing that the puritan fails the test of the Sabbath because he fails to reason on a mature moral level, either because of the legalism of Puritan doctrine or because of his refusal to admit his own sinfulness (Frank 209, Folsom 32, Fogle23, Stubbs 73) (Easterley).
Joan Elizabeth Easterley has opened my eyes. It is interesting to see different views on one story. To wrap up her essay, she ends it by saying, “Nathaniel Hawthorne, the master of symbolism and suggestion, softly sprinkles cold tears on the cheek of young Goodman Brown. This lachrymal image, so delicately wrought, is the key to interpreting the young Puritan’s failure to achieve moral and spiritual maturity. Brown cannot reconcile the conflict caused by his legalistic evaluation of others, nor can he transcend this moral dilemma by showing compassion and remorse. In final irony, Hawthorne tells us that the man who sheds no tears lives the rest of his life a “sad” man, whose “dying hour was gloom” (Hawthorne, 90)(Easterley). “Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, the descendent of a long line of Puritan ancestors.
After his father was lost at sea when he was only four, his mother became overly protected and pushed him toward more isolated pursuits. Hawthorne’s childhood left him overly shy and bookish, and molded his life as a writer. Hawthorne turned to writing after his graduation from Bowdoin College” (Classic Notes by Gradesaver). “In June, 1849, Hawthorne was discharged from his three year long job with Salem Custom House. He was forty five years old, and although starting to gain a reputation as a writer, remained unable to support himself from writing alone. To make the tragedy even worse, only a few weeks later his mother passed away. Hawthorne fell ill as a result of the difficulties he was facing” (Classic Notes by Gradesaver). “Upon his recovery late in the summer, Hawthorne sat down to write The Scarlet Letter.
He zealously worked on the novel with determination he had not known before. His intense suffering infused the novel with imaginative energy, leading him to describe it as the “hell-fired story.” On February 3. 1850, Hawthorne read the final pages to his wife. He wrote, “It broke her heart and sent her to bed with a grievous headache, which i took upon as a triumphant success” (Classic Notes by Gradesaver). “Hawthorne was deeply devoted to his wife, Sophia Peabody, and his two children. Hawthorne, though, had little engagement with any sort of social life.
Hawthorne passed away on May 19, 1864 in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Emerson described his life with the words “painful solitude.” Hawthorne’s classic remains one of the most cleanly composed works of American fiction” (Classic Notes by Gradesaver). Bibliography Fogle, Richard Harter. “Hawthorne’s Fiction: The Light and the Dark. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1964. Folsom, james K.
Man’s Accidents and God’s Purpose: Multiplicity in Hawthorne’s Fiction. New Haven: College & UP, 1963. Frank, Neal. Hawthorne’s Early Tales: A Critical Study. Durham: Duke UP, 1972. Hawthorne, Nathaniel.
“Young Goodman Brown.” Moses from an Old Manse. Ohio State UP, 1974. 74-90. Stubbs, Joan Caldwell. The Pusuit of Form: A Study of Hawthorne and the Romance.
Chicago: U of Illinois P, 1970. Easterley, Joan Elizabeth. Lachrymal imagery of Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” Studies in Short Fiction, Summer91, Vol. 28 Issue 3, p339, 5p. (Located in EBSCOhost). Mikosh, Bert A.
A view of “Young Goodman Brown.” URL:http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/amlit/goodm an/ygmikosh. html (11/26/99). Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essays. 4th ed. DiYanni, Robert, ed.
Ny: The McGraw Hill Companies, 1998. Nathanliel Hawthorne: Classic Notes by GradeSaver. URL:http://www. gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Authors/hawthorne.html (12/14/99).