An Analysis of Various Hawthourne Short Stories. "Rapaccinni's Daughter, " "Young Goodman, " "The Birthmark,""Look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one"

Essay by Nick LeFevreCollege, UndergraduateB+, November 1996

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In many of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short stories, he creates characters with either a malicious or evil feature to relay to the reader a more allegorical meaning. Many would say he targets woman without justification. Therefore a reader may interpret him to be a misogynist. In the story "Rapaccinni's Daughter" he uses Beatrice as a carrier of a deadly poison. In "Young Goodman" he targets Faith as the character who is lost to the Devil. In the stories "Rappaccini's Daughter," and "The Birthmark," Hawthorne also uses men as transmitters of evil illicitly. The men involved in the stories have their own flaws which contribute to the flaws of the women in their lives. Ultimately, Hawthorne in the cases above can be seen as a misogynist who directs his maliciousness on only women, yet he also uses male characters as vile transmitters of evil, therefore he is not a misogynist and targets both sexes equally.

In Young Goodman Brown, Faith, the wife of Young Goodman Brown is a character who loses her faith and submits to the Devil. Hawthorne, in this case directly uses faith as the carrier of a flaw. That is, she does not contain enough self-control, or faith to refuse the calling of the Devil. Even with the emotional plea from her husband, "Look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one," (1590) Faith cannot resist the Devil's temptation and has "uncertain sorrow," (1587) after submitting to him. The character of Faith which Hawthorne portrays is one of uncertainty and one which has a lack of self control. Faith is a good example of how Hawthorne uses a woman to symbolize a deeper significance, in this case, it is to evoke the hypocrisy of the Puritan people, that is, Puritans are really not as pure as we...