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Suspense and Tension “Young Goodman Brown”

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    Tension, suspense and surprise are all essential elements in a story. This is because they not only draw readers’ attention to a story and compel them to continue reading, but they also increase the readers’ emotions as they anticipate with uncertainty on what is going to happen next in the story. Suspense can operate in any in any situation that has a lead-up to a dramatic moment or a significant event, with tension being the principal emotion felt as part of the situation.

    Therefore, this paper shall seek to explain the effects of suspense and tension in The Monkey’s Paw by Jacob, The Queen of Spades by Pushkin, and Young Goodman Brown by Hawthorne. There are several techniques that have been used to create suspense and tension in the story, The Monkey’s Paw. From the onset of the story, the language used not only set the story scene, but it also conveys the mood of the story. For instance, the assertion, “…the night was cold and wet…” (Jacob 1) intrigues the reader since it creates a pathetic fallacy that the story is going to be based on evil.

    This creates tension just as the story begins. The language used makes the story fast paced, and this also plays a dominant deal in creating suspense and tension in the story. The narrator has used words such as ‘slushy’ and ‘beastly’ (Jacob 6). The words represent Gothic genre; thus, demonstrating that the characters and objects have been described negatively. Jacob has also used intriguing character and vague dialogue to create tension. For instance, Sergeant Major Morris’s discomposure while speaking about the paws draws readers’ attention and keeps them hooked.

    The readers’ are able to understand the mysterious history that surrounds the strange talisman. Tension increases exponentially when Morris throws the monkey’s paw into the fire. At this point, the military man’s hatred and true fear of the paw come to light. The entire story’s climax exudes pulse-pounding suspense. At the time of knocking, readers’ are also likely to feel tensed, just like the characters (Jacob 24).

    In as much as Jacob did not reveal the source of the knock, it can be assumed that it came from the mutilated Herbert White’s corpse. Such eerie and disturbing possibility can shock and frighten an easily troubled reader. Thus, it would be accurate to say that suspense plays a significance role to enhance the mood of The Monkey’s Paw. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story, Young Goodman Brown, is a straightforward and unembellished story. However, the discrepancies established between what readers expect the characters and symbols to imply and what they represent creates the twists and tensions that make this fable withstand the tests of time.

    The story revolves around a young man who goes on a journey late at night. The fact that he goes into the forest at night sets the center stage of suspense and tension. It is commonly known that forests are home to dangerous wild animals and creatures that can devour human beings in a flash. Therefore, tension and suspense starts to depict itself right from the onset of the story. This is because readers’ anticipate what is going to happen to Brown in the forest.

    The title of Hawthorne’s fable prompts readers to have several questions. Taking the title, Young Goodman Brown at face value, ‘young’ may refer to the age of the main character; ‘Goodman’ may refer to his nature as a virtuous man and ‘Brown’ serves to identify him by his family or last name. From this analysis, several questions arise. For instance, why must he be young? Why was his last name ‘Brown’ and not ‘Johnson’ or ‘Smith’? Both

    names, ‘Smith’ and ‘Johnson’ were common names for Puritan men in Salem, the town where the fable is set. These questions prompt the audience to read more and find out the mystery behind its title. In the fable, Young Goodman Brown, the main character’s wife is called Faith. However, during his journey in the forest, he mentions ‘Faith’ in a context that keeps readers’ guessing as to which ‘Faith’ was being implied, the wife or belief. When the devilish figure comments on Brown’s late appearance, he replies, “Faith kept me back a while…” (Hawthorne 4)

    This statement can be taken literally to mean, Brown’s wife extended the goodbye by beseeching him to stay. Conversely, it can be analyzed to mean, Brown’s faith had prevented him from taking the journey earlier. Later on in the story, Brown cries out, “My faith is gone!” (Hawthorne 4). The assertion is not clear since it leaves readers’ guessing whether it was the wife or his divinity.

    This is because he exclaimed after seeing a pink ribbon, which was similar to the one his wife wore. At the same time, the scene shows the change in him; before he had strong faith, but later he accepted the evil inside the forest and within himself; thus, turning to a mad man. Alexander Pushkin’s fable, The Queen of Spades also depicts tension and suspense as elements of literary styles.

    The story is exemplary in several ways and extraordinary in its teachings on the thoughtfulness and futility of unbridled greed. Suspense is seen when Herman feigns love to Lizavetta Ivanova with intentions to secure the secret of winning gambling games from the old countess. Readers’ are left guessing whether Herman’s plans would bear fruits. When that fails, Herman pays a visit to the old countess and threatens her with a pistol; an action that leads to the old woman’s death. Tension heightens when Herman does not know what to do after realizing that the old woman had died in her hands (Pushkin 4).

    To the readers’ disbelief, Lizavetta assists him to escape, after realizing that his love was not true. The Queen of Spades also shows suspense by demonstrating Hermann’s realization that he had bet on the Queen of Spades; instead of the ace. It leaves the reader’s thinking what could have happened. The tension in the scene is heightened when the queen on the card appears to wink at Hermann prompting him to flee in terror (Pushkin. 5).

    Lastly, the story leaves readers’ in suspense since they are left to imagine the life Lizavetta would have lived should she had married the greedy and stingy Hermann. In conclusion, suspense and tension plays a significance role in stories. It keeps the readers’ fixed to the pages, as well as makes anticipate them the next thing to happen. The three stories, The Monkey’s Paw by Jacob, The Queen of Spades by Pushkin, and Young Goodman Brown by Hawthorne have expressed the significance of tension and suspense.

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