Essay On The Value Of Dreams In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

739 words - 3 pages

Young Goodman Brown:  The Value of Dreams

Young Goodman Brown   The Birthmark   Nathaniel Hawthorne's stories "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Birthmark" both make use of dreams to affect the story and reveal the central characters. With each story, the dreams presented are extremely beneficial to the development of the story as they give the reader a new view of the plot itself, or the characters within. At the same time, however, it becomes difficult to determine how much of the dream has been affected by the character, and how much is pure fantasy. This is true with Young Goodman Brown, who cannot determine whether the events in his life actually occurred, or if they simply were created in his troubled mind while he slept. In "The Birthmark," Aylmer too is haunted by his night-time musings as he dreams of mutilating his wife in order to rid her of a small birthmark. This small detail later turns out to foreshadow the conclusion of the story, while giving readers further insight into his diabolical nature. Dreams thusly play an important developmental role in the explication of Hawthorne's characters.

    Young Goodman Brown's dream near the end of his story has a most profound effect on his character. After a night of making deals with the Devil, having all of his fellow countrymen show their Satanic sympathies and himself becoming affiliated with the Fallen Angel, Brown understandably looks to account these incredible events to a dream state. However, Brown acts coldly towards Faith after that particular night, and completely changes his demeaner as he begins to question whether the dream was, in fact, a dream, or reality. What may have been but a dream turns out to haunt Brown for the rest of his life, as he can no longer accept the people in his life for what they appear to be, and can not forget that he saw them all at the witch-meeting. In contrast, is the debatable question of whether or not the dream was only a "wild dream" (Hawthorne, 318). If Young Goodman Brown indeed did dream of the witch-meeting, then he has wasted his life with his unrestrained, unrelenting paranoia. Because of the ambiguity of...

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