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Excerpt from lecture, "Figurations of Salem in 'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House,'" by Rita K. Gollin.

Excerpt from lecture, "Figurations of Salem in 'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House,'" by Rita K. Gollin.

In this passage Rita Gollin emphasizes the way in which Hawthorne had internalized the shameful events of Salem's history in which his ancestors played critical roles. For her, Young Goodman Brown's journey into the dark forest serves as a metaphor for Hawthorne's own dark introspections.

"Beyond his fictional veil, Hawthorne accuses his two most eminent ancestors of consorting with the Devil. But the dark forest where Brown's horrific nighttime adventures occur is more than the locus of Salem's shameful past, including his ancestors'. It is also the dark interior of the self in which the author himself often wandered during his "twelve lonely years" in Salem. The story's climactic Witches' Sabbath where Salemites await the initiation of Goodman Brown and his Faith into evil is an analogue of the Salem witchcraft frenzy. The entire story dramatizes the either-or mentality which underlay the Puritans' persecution of Quakers and other non-believers and the events at Gallows Hill. But it must also be read as a journey into the dark inner reaches of the self."



Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/10415/


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