Young Goodman Brown
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Young Goodman Brown Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- At the beginning of the story, is there anything about young Goodman Brown himself that seems, you know, evil? Why do you think he's following the traveler with the staff in the first place?
- Short story, lots and lots and lots of minor characters. Is there any character who, in your opinion, Hawthorne should have fleshed out? Or why do you think Hawthorne chose not to say more about some of these good folks?
- How would "Young Goodman Brown" be different if Hawthorne had written some of it using Faith's point of view? What if he'd written all of it from Faith's point of view? Can you imagine this? Are you intrigued? Or should Faith just keep playing with her pink ribbons and leave us all alone?
- Okay, what are we supposed to think of young Goodman Brown's hometown? Cool place to live? Boring? Too good to be true? Is Hawthorne trying to make us feel a certain way about Salem, or just describing it and leaving us to think whatever we want?
- Let's get down to business: did young Goodman Brown only dream "a wild dream of a witch-meeting?" You must have an opinion. ("I'm totally confused" is a perfectly good opinion.)
- Does this story ever make evil look, well, kind of attractive? (If they ever make Young Goodman Brown: 3D, the bad guys are getting the best special effects.) Or do you sympathize with young Goodman Brown himself, and dislike the same people he learns to dislike?
- Young Goodman Brown returns to Salem a very changed man. Is he just over-reacting? Or are distrust and gloominess appropriate reactions to what he saw?
- What is this story trying to tell us about human nature? Are people bad by nature, or do we only end up harming ourselves by believing that the world is a bad place?
- And now, time to channel your inner Hawthorne. Pretend that the story breaks off after young Goodman Brown wakes up. Can you think of another appropriate ending for the story? How about another ending that fits, but raises entirely different points about human existence?
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