Young Goodman Brown 3 Essay, Research Paper
In Hawthorne’s allegorical short story, “Young Goodman Brown,” and in “The Night Nurse” by Joyce Carol Oates, darkness and night is used to evoke fear in the protagonist in each story. As Young Goodman Brown bid farewell to his young wife Faith, dusk turned to the darkness. The trees make the forest appear darker. Young Goodman Brown seems to be a man of determination. He is afraid of leaving his young wife and of what may unfold from the deep hidden depths of forest darkness. After the young man enters the tree line and rounds the crook in the road, a creature of the dark speaks to Goodman and asks why he is late. Young Goodman replies with a hesitance in his voice.
The fear builds slowly throughout the story, but the plot is different in Joyce Carol Oats’ “The Night Nurse.” In this piece, there is anticipation. Grace Burkhardt had a fear of dying from a blood clot in her leg. Or perhaps, it is the nurse of the night. She pressed the buzzer and nothing happened. Again she pressed. Nothing. Then she hears a voice, although not very comforting to her. Then a long pause, maybe even minutes passed before someone came into the room. Pain shoots through her leg then to the rest of her body. She falls asleep into a deep sleep and she awakes abruptly to a dark night. When she realizes she’s in the hospital, a terror flows through her body like the pain in her leg. The room not totally dark, due to the light left on by the nurse, made unrecognizable images on the single glass window. Again her mind is filled with fear of dying in a hospital bed. Outside, darkness arrives. But outside the door in the hall she hears voices, but when she holds her breath, she no longer hears them. This leads one to believe that it was just in her head. The night nurse antagonized her with questions of her past. She inquires about friends she knew when she was young. Again Grace’s mind seems to wonder off to a different time, a time when she was young. At the same time, Grace wonders about the night nurse. The questioning created a scene as if Grace was on trial for a hideous crime. When she could not remember, the nurse becomes even more bitter with each answer.
Young Goodman Brown’s fear is much the same. Hiding behind the trees while resting he hears the pounding of hooves. They stop right in front of him but he can’t see with the thick cover of the woods. He hears voices, some of which he recognizes. His fear now turns to curiosity, and wonders why would these holy men would be so far in the badlands. He hears what he thinks is his wife’s voice and he screams her name, but only echos returned. Terror and despair struck his body. As the dark clouds parted, the stars shown bright symbolizing peace. Peace did not come, only the ribbon from his wife’s hair. Or maybe they parted to let out a soul of someone who died.
The setting is taking place at night in both of these stories represents fear of the unknown. The narrator uses witches, devils and night nurses with inquisitive minds. Even so the setting in both led to a mood of fear and rage giving its readers hints as to what or who is around the corner. The antagonist in both stories shows plenty of emotion, which in turn, is passed on to the reader.