Comparing “The Story of an Hour” and “Young Goodman Brown”
Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” described the different forms of the characters’ struggle and life before, during, and after a certain situation within their lives. Chopin and Hawthorne’s attack in their stories is both Feminist but not on the same direction. Chopin’s point of view lies within the context of isolation, fear, and transformation. On the other way around, Hawthorne’s point of view lies within the context of freedom, culture, tradition, and identity. These aspects emerged in the stories with certain justifications through the characters, the setting, or some relevant happenings as the narrative went to its ending. Therefore, it can be said that Chopin and Hawthorne’s stories are the realizations of social and religious values within the identities of the protagonists as they conquer their personal circumstances.
Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is about a woman named Mrs. Mallard. She is a simple wife with no freedom. She was shocked after knowing that her husband is already dead. She could not absorb the news in the beginning but as she tried to understand the fact, she tends to collapse. So that no one could see her, she went to her room to think and grieve. While inside her, she remembered her moments with her husband. She knew that she could not live without him – she depends on him. Nevertheless, she realized that her husband death is the new beginning of her life. She will become free from anything. No one would harm her physically and emotionally. That is why there is no room for pity and grief because today, a new Mrs. Mallard is born.
Chopin’s point of attack in this story described an hour of woman’s life. The protagonist transformed her emotions, ideas, and perspectives as she tried to realize the new beginning. It is a social empowerment that the author is trying to convey. Mrs. Mallard as the protagonist showed hope and ending of isolation and aloneness. “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, and the color that filled the air (Chopin).” After realizing her freedom, her joy becomes spontaneous – she almost killed her self from excessive happiness but she controlled and planned her life immediately. This is a form of Feminism for it empowers women not only Mrs. Mallard but all readers. It is also a form of social deconstruction that deals with the idea of opposing the dictation or perspective of the society towards the feelings or emotions of a widower. Mrs. Mallard did not grieve so much but she found her self dealing with her new future.
Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” discussed the life of a new couple as they live in an isolated community. Young Goodman Brown has his secret belief that exists within the forest. One night, he went to the forest to practice his belief along with his ‘special friend.’ Before he went to the forest, he told her wife that he is going to a special place that only he must go. Faith, his wife would want to go with him but she could not – Young Goodman Brown would not let her. Young Goodman Brown went to different obstacles before he found the ‘sacred place’ where his ‘friends’ are waiting for him. As the ritual started, a group of women praised their god. Into his surprise, Young Goodman Brown saw Faith as one of them. He did not know what to do. He went back to their home and check if Faith is there but her wife did not exists. He felt trouble because he knows that the ritual would not let his wife go back with him because Faith’s soul is already part of them.
“`My love and my Faith,` replied young Goodman Brown, `of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married?` (Hawthorne)” Hawthorne speaks for the religious aspect of society in this story. There are several symbolisms emerged especially the identity of Faith. Faith serves as the belief of Young Goodman Brown. She also serves as his life and fulfillment as a ma. The concept of faith was not with him even in the beginning of the story. When he left his wife, he also left his belief to his true god. He started to trust someone else like giving up her wife in distress. Hawthorne’s attack is significant and full of transformation. Like the concept of faith, someone will gain while someone will lose. The author described how the game of life works through the hands of the bearer.
In comparison of the two texts, the authors described their idea of belief and social transformation. In Chopin’s story, Mrs. Mallard transformed into a free woman dealing her new life with new challenges and fate. “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air (Chopin).” In Hawthorne’s story, Young Goodman Brown transforms into isolation because his so-called faith took his wife away from him. “`Faith!` shouted Goodman Brown, in a voice of agony and desperation; and the echoes of the forest mocked him, crying, `Faith! Faith!` as if bewildered wretches were seeking her all through the wilderness (Hawthorne).” Chopin’s story empowered women while Hawthorne’s story deprived men at the end – leaving them in vain and alone.
Hawthorne made his readers realized the strengths and weaknesses of men because of their women. Young Goodman Brown is full of pride and strength while he is with his wife. He knew that after the ritual, he will go back with his life and will a start his life with her but everything changes. It shows that Young Goodman Brown isolated his wife and did not let her be part of his identity. The character of Young Goodman Brown is selfish. Through his being self-centered, his loved one left him without knowing the truth behind it. However, in Chopin’s story, the narrator described through the realization of Mrs. Mallard while she was in her room how her husband treated her. She has no power and authority even in her own life. She is isolated in a situation that no one could ever save her. That is why after dealing with the fact that her husband is already dead, she started to obtain happiness and life. Instead of feeling distress, she is full of joy. Through this justification, it can be said that the authors showed that men are logically weak without a woman beside or behind them. Nevertheless, women are happier without a man on their side as based on the context of the stories.
In conclusion to this, it can be said that the authors played a significant role in describing the idea of feminism, social and religious realization. They deconstruct the social notion about men and women. Because of this, they can be seen as great authors having their own ideas and identities as man and woman of literature.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Writing About Literature. Edgar V. Roberts.
Hawthorne Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Writing About Literature. Edgar V. Roberts. 11th Edition