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ERIC Number: ED418428
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 25
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Giving the Devil His Due.
Mallett, Sandra-Lynne J.
In their anthology, Guth and Rico cite as preface to Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," a student paper saying: "The mere doubt of the existence of good and the thought that other human beings are evil can become such a corrosive force that it can eat out the life of the heart." This is what happens to Brown. In the story, he has help from the promptings of the Devil, or, he succumbs to his imagination and projects his own guilt upon his neighbors and family. A choice of these two interpretations may be left up to the individual reader. Teachers' manuals and the questions posed in texts about this story make clear that it is subject to varied interpretations. However, it is helpful in interpretation to consider the devil himself. The worldly-wise, sophisticated older man, as he is portrayed in the story, assists Brown to reach the conclusion or excuse that "everybody does it." The Devil does this by using tactics in current use by advertisers and politicians: poisoning the well and encouraging hopping on the bandwagon. He relies chiefly on his oldest tactic, the business that gave him his name: slander. By suggestion, or Brown's own suggestible imagination, Brown comes to project his own distrust on all of his community. If instructors can help students to understand exactly what happened to Brown, maybe some of them can avoid some of the devilish temptations to which everyone is susceptible. (Contains 19 references.) (Author/NKA)
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A