Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804-1864

Nathaniel Hawthorne biography

Born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1804, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories include “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” (1832), “Roger Malvin’s Burial” (1832), “Young Goodman Brown” (1835), and the collection Twice-Told Tales. He is best known for his novels The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851). His use of allegory and symbolism make Hawthorne one of the most studied writers.

Allegory – a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

Symbolism – the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities.

  • The Staff
  • Pink Ribbons

What do you know about Salem, Massachusetts?

Henry James, influential American novelist, writing about Hawthorne says:

The most valuable example of American genius.

Herman Melville, writing in The Literary World in August of 1850, praises Hawthorne:

“who in the name of thunder, would anticipate any marvel in a piece entitled “Young Goodman Brown”? You would of course suppose that it was a simple little tale, intended as a supplement to “Goody Two Shoes.” Whereas, it is deep as Dante; nor can you finish it, without addressing the author in his own words–“It is yours to penetrate, in every bosom, the deep mystery of sin.”

Gothic Literature

Gothic Literature can be defined as style of writing that investigates the dark side of human nature.

The term Gothic fiction refers to a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion. These emotions can include fear and suspense.

Encyclopedia – Gothic Literature

Characteristics of the Gothic include: death and decay, haunted homes/castles, family curses, madness, powerful love/romance, ghosts, and vampires.

Major Gothic writers and texts include:

  • Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto (1764)
  • Ann Radcliff: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
  • Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1897)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: The House of the Seven Gables (1851) and “Young Goodman Brown” (1835)
  • Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre (1847)
  • Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831)
  • Edgar Allan Poe: many of his stories
  • Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
  • Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
  • Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)

Young Goodman Brown


  • Young Goodman Brown
  • Faith
  • The Old Man/Devil
  • Goody Cloyse
  • The Minister
  • Deacon Gookin


What are some themes in the story?

Summary and Review

Young Goodman Brown Video Interpretation


The Weakness of Public Morality: Corruptibility that results from Puritan society’s emphasis on public morality.

The Loss of Innocence: People are inherently evil which leads to Goodman Brown losing his innocence. Whether the events were real or not, his loss of innocence was inevitable and real.

The Fear of the Wilderness: Puritan belief that the wild new world was something to fear and then dominate.

Female Purity: Goodman Brown clings to the idea of Faith’s purity throughout the night. A popular idea was that a man’s wife or mother would redeem him.