Why does Hawthorne always beat the reader over the head with meaning?

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"He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind."

Okay, honestly now, what all does it really take to say that Goodman (I wonder what sort of person he is?) Brown is doing something bad....well, apparently quite a bit. (In the line before this it mentions that he's on a "evil purpose") Beyond that I count no less than four words with negative connotation, creep, dreary, gloomiest, darkened.

Beyond that he subtly personifies the trees and path, (this bit is actually quite clever) giving the passage a more secretive, as well as sinister feel.  Personally, however, I think the clever bit would have been more effective had he left out a few of those adjectives.

Overall, good story. It had more to offer than simply calling the Puritans hypocrites, which is about as witty and original as calling George W. Bush stupid, or Nazis evil. I especially enjoyed the ambiguous ending, just because it seems to throw Goodman into a dilemma. By making it potentially a dream, he runs the risk of being labelled a crazy person, which could be lethal in Salem at that time as they tended to refer to crazy people as witches. If he trys to fight against the witches, they have a massive advantage in the public arena. It's even a difficult choice as to whether to discuss it with Faith as he could have dreamed it, or she could have joined, meaning she may support the witches over him and, well, slit his throat in his sleep. Overall, Goodman is forced into inaction, which was kind of where people who lived during witch trials were stuck. They knew that innocents were getting burned and hung by those in power (yeah, the church), but were in no position to fight it, for fear of being next in line for the gallows/stake.

2 Comments

Jennifer Prex said:

This story does tend to do that. I think that is, in part, because it is an allegory--Everyman is another good example, with the characters having names such as Everyman, Good Deeds, Knowledge, and Strength. Regardless, not much is up to reader interpretation in that respect. Then again, who would have guessed that Faith would be converted to witchcraft in the end, unless it was in fact a dream and therefore yet another allegorical trick.

DavidWilbanks Author Profile Page said:

Then again, with the assumption that it wasn't a dream, and Hawthorne is allegorically condemning the church, it would make sense that the innocent are led to support them due to their faith.

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