In their short stories, Edgar Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne explore the psychological peculiarities of their characters and the transformation of their inner world. This paper is aimed at discussing such works as Young Goodman Brown written Hawthorn and Poe’s famous short story The Fall of the House of Usher. Overall, one can argue that both authors show how characters perceive and respond to the disintegration of the world that has been familiar to them.
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These people suffer a severe emotional trauma. This is one of the main themes that these writers explore. These questions can be better examined by looking at the setting of these short stories, conflicts, the transformation of the protagonists, and style because they can show the techniques used by these writers. These are the main issues that should be taken into account by the readers of these texts.
First of all, Hawthorn and Poe focus on the setting since this element can better explain the behavior of various characters. For instance, Hawthorn emphasizes that the action takes place in the Puritan New England, probably in the seventeenth century. In particular, the readers learn the characters live in Salem, a village which is notorious for numerous witch trials that were held there (Hawthorne 7).
To a great extent, this detail suggests that the narrative will describe some dramatic events. The location is very important for the writer because in this way, he can introduce supernatural element into the narrative. In turn, Edgar Poe does not directly identify the exact time and location of the story, but the readers can see that the action takes place in some desolate location which is not easily accessible to other people.
The first sentence of the story illustrates how Poe describes the setting, “ I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher” (Poe 4). One can say that both authors strive to create an atmosphere of suspense. To some degree, this goal is attained by looking at the setting of these short stories. This is one of the main aspects that can be identified.
Furthermore, much attention should be paid to the main characters of these stories. For example, Goodman Brown is firmly convinced that he lives in a virtuous community in which people try to be immune to sin. He can be described as a virtuous and slightly naïve person who wants to see the better qualities of other people. Nevertheless, he can sense that something is wrong. He feels that the hidden life of people can differs dramatically from their public life.
In turn, the unnamed narrator of Edgar Poe story can notice that his friend Roderick Usher is in the state of physical and psychological collapse, even he cannot understand why he has changed so significantly. He can be viewed as a very perceptive individual who can detect the changes in the behavior of other people. Thus, these characters can be described as very responsive people, and this is one of the similarities that should be taken into consideration.
Additionally, it is vital to look at the conflicts which drive the narratives presented by the authors. Nathaniel Hawthorne examines the conflict between the proclaimed and hidden values of people. It should be mentioned that the residents of the village claim to be virtuous Puritans who are only concerned with the ethical aspects of their behavior.
However, they participate in a witch Sabbath and this ritual is hardly compatible with the ideals that these villagers claim to have. Moreover, there is internal conflict between his own rationality and belief in the better qualities of other people. At the moment of bitter disappointment, the main character says, ‘ My faith is gone…. There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name’ (Hawthorne 23).
In turn, the narrator of Edgar Poe’s story is torn by the conflict to run away from the declining house of Usher and his devotion to his friend, Roderick. The narrator strives to cope with “ the sense of insufferable gloom” when he approaches the house (Poe 4). Nevertheless, he still wishes to meet Roderick. So, the authors explore different conflicts, but these elements of the narrative are vital for explaining the main themes of these short stories.
Apart from that, it is vital to look at different elements of the plot. Nathaniel Hawthorn does not immediately reveal the purpose of the main character’s journey or its outcome. Moreover, the readers do not know what the protagonist will find out in the forest. The plot of this short story contains such elements as exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution. These are some of the details that should not be disregarded.
Similarly, Poe does not reveal what happens to Roderick Usher and why his sister died. This approach enables the writers to focus the readers’ attention on the narrative. Moreover, the writers show how the world, which is familiar to the characters, gradually falls apart. In particular, Goodman Brown sees how the ideals such as faith or devotion lose their value. In turn, Edgar Poe describes the decline of Roderick Usher and emotional response of the narrator. This is one of the key details that should be considered.
Finally, it is important to examine the style of both authors. One can argue that Edgar Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne try to make sure that every detail throws some light on the characters, their inner world or at least the setting. This is one of the similarities in the style of these writers. Yet, there are some distinctions. In particular, Nathaniel Hawthorne shows that his characters use the archaic words or phrases such as “ thou” or “ sayest” (Hawthorne 11).
The speech of these people indicates that these characters could be living in the Puritan New England (Hawthorne 11). Additionally, the characters have such names as Faith or Goodman which were very popular in the seventeenth century. In this way, the author wants to show that the residents of the village wanted to showcase their piety. In turn, Edgar Poe prefers to use various epithets and metaphors which can intensify the feeling of suspense.
The following quote illustrates the writing style of this author, “ feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellised panes” (Poe 8). This passage shows that Poe wants to create vivid images that produce a long-lasting impression on the reader. He wants the reader to imagine the dreary house in which the action takes place.
Overall, these examples indicate that Edgar Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne attach much importance to the psychological development of the characters. They can perfectly describe how they responds to the collapse of something that they have taken for granted.
Goodman Brown is forced to accept that his neighbors and even his wife are not as virtuous and pious as they claim to be. In turn, the unnamed narrator of Edgar Poe’s story is forced to see the decline of his friend. One can argue that both characters suffer from significant psychological trauma. This is one of the main details that be identified.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown, Boston: Wildside Press LLC, 2005. Print.
Poe, Edgar. The Fall of the House of Usher. New York: The Floating Press, 2011. Print.