Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

Fundamental Themes in Roger Malvin's Burial

In his short story, "Roger Malvin's Burial," Nathaniel Hawthorne explores such fundamental themes as good, evil , sin, family, pride, and penance. However ,from the onset he warns us, "my tale is not of love"(Hawthorne 25). This is instead a tale of the depths of the human psyche and an explication upon the horrors of a tortured soul. Hawthorne uses the afflicted heart of Reuben Bourne as a medium to promulgate on the consequences of not following one's own conscience. For from his story we can surmise, as he makes it quite apparent, that the retribution for not following one's innate sense of right and wrong is severe and to be suffered intensely. Furthermore, it is a sin that must be expiated.

To begin to understand Hawthorne's message, it is vital to examine his primary vehicle, and main character, Reuben Bourne. Bourne is introduced to the reader as a lighthearted youth on the brink of being "born" into manhood. On his way home from battle his real journey begins. What initially appears to be slightly ironic about this section is Hawthorne's description of the surroundings, "The early sunbeams hovered cheerfully upon the tree tops"(18). This seems unexpected here...

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