The Age of Romanticism

A review of “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne as an example of literature from the age of romanticism.

This paper analyzes the book “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a man’s struggle with morality and his capacity for heroism. It discusses Hawthorne’s approach to literature in a time period when many of the formalities and superficialities of literary expression, were subverted. It shows how the narrative is an exploration of man’s most personal emotional canon, that which gauges his division of good and evil and how such an intimate investigation would have been impossible by the formalized standards of classical literature.
Another of romanticism’s most distinctive characteristics was its disregard for reason in exchange for unfettered authority of the self. Individualism found its greatest advocate in the romantic movement, which stressed man’s singular ability to made a genius and a hero of himself. Therefore, there was no greater virtue in the field than to be a man unto his own values and visions. Further, there was no greater priority than to detail the personal triumph of individuals under considerable pressure to deviate from rightness by external forces. Young Goodman Brown was a man in just such a position of compromise. He promises himself that he will resist Satan’s efforts to sway him, chalking his confidence up to a pure family lineage and his own well-honed constancy.