Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

Hawthorne and Poe take us to Hell College

In both “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Cask of Amontillado”, evil is something that the characters carry with them throughout the stories. The revelation of their personal evil is a journey that begins with the ostensible picture of faith and good will and as the stories progress; the characters strip their masks in the journey into darkness and chaos. At the end of the stories, the characters return to a place of structure but something is broken.

The first thing to note about the structure of the stories is that they are both purposefully modeled from Dante’s Inferno, which was based in the “journey to hell” genre so popular in the Middle Ages. What distinguishes Dante from the countless other poets and writers is that Dante has a psychological component to his journey into hell. The journey into hell is both a literal journey and a psychological journey into the darkest and grimmest parts of Dante’s soul. The major difference between Dante and the works of Poe and Hawthorne is that Dante moves through Purgatory and Heaven in order to rebuild his fractured soul. In both Poe and Hawthorne, the return to normalcy is only superficial. Upon confrontation with their evil natures, the characters never get to rebuild themselves....

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