Point of View of “Young Goodman Brown”
Point of view is “one of the most prominent and persistent concerns in modern treatments of the art of prose fiction” (Abrams 231). This essay will treat of how the story is told in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” what type of narrator tells it, and through whose perception the reader receives the tale – in other words, the point of view of this short story (Axelrod 336).
In this story the mode or point of view by which the author presents the characters, dialogue, actions, etc. is that of a third-person narrator, who uses proper names and third-person pronouns to designate the various characteris in the tale:
YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.
The narrator possesses the capablility of reading the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, the young Puritan husband, Goodman Brown, only among all the characters. As Brown turns the corner at the meeting house, he thinks:
"Poor little Faith!" thought he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought, as she spoke, there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But, no, no! 'twould kill her to think it. Well; she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven."
This ability of the narrator’s gives the story a limited point of view (Abrams 232) since it does not apply to other characters in the story. We find another example of the narrator feeling, thinking and perceiving what Goodman experiences while he is accompanying his travelling companion through the woods:
As nearly as could be discerned, the second traveller was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a
considerable resemblance to him, though perhaps more in expression than features. Still, they might have been taken for father and son. And yet, though the elder person was as simply clad as the younger, and as simple in manner too, he had an indescribable air of one who knew the world, and would not have felt abashed at the governor's dinner-table, or in King William's court, were it possible that his affairs should call him thither. But the only thing about him, that could be fixed upon as remarkable, was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent. This, of course, must have been an ocular deception, assisted by the uncertain light.
And when the companion...