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It's All In The Details

"'But, were I to go on with thee, how should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem village? . . . .' Thus far the elder traveler had listened with due gravity; but now burst into a fit of irrepressible mirth, shaking himself so violently that his snake-like staff actually seemed to wriggle in sympathy."
~pages 3-4 of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"

We're told time and time again that it is better to show rather than tell a story. There were a few instances in this story, like in the quote above, I couldn't help but recall this--not because Hawthorne went against this mantra, but because it really drives the point home that sometimes less is more. Hawthorne could have come right out and written that the minister was not as good of a man as Goodman Brown thought he was, but the elder traveler’s laughter conveys that message much better than had it been literally spelled out on the page. Another example that was interesting was "'That old woman taught me my catechism,' said the young man; and there was a world of meaning in this simple comment" (5). Even though we are told that there is a world of meaning, we are shown how the character feels by this statement. He is not simply stating a fact; he is shocked and, in all likelihood, appalled. There is plenty of room for the reader to still fill in the gaps.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 1, 2009 12:02 PM.

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