Point of View in Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"

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About this sample


Words: 629 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 629|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. First Aspect: Third-Person Limited Point of View
  3. Second Aspect: Unreliable Narrator
  4. Third Aspect: Omniscient Narrator's Interventions
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography


What makes a story captivating and memorable? One crucial element is the point of view from which the narrative is told. Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is no exception. This dark and enigmatic tale explores the journey of a young man named Goodman Brown as he delves into the depths of his own soul and confronts the darkness that resides within himself and his community. By examining the point of view employed by Hawthorne, we can gain deeper insights into the story's themes and symbolism. This essay will analyze the point of view in "Young Goodman Brown" and its effects on the reader's interpretation of the narrative.

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First Aspect: Third-Person Limited Point of View

The story "Young Goodman Brown" is predominantly narrated from a third-person limited point of view, which means that the reader sees the events unfold through Goodman Brown's perspective. This choice of point of view allows the reader to experience the story alongside the protagonist, sharing in his confusion, fear, and moral dilemmas. By aligning the reader's perspective with Goodman Brown's, Hawthorne creates a sense of empathy and immersion. For example, the narrator states, "Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset into the street at Salem village; but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife" (Hawthorne). This close proximity to the protagonist's thoughts and feelings intensifies the psychological impact of the story, drawing the reader deeper into the narrative.

Second Aspect: Unreliable Narrator

While the story is primarily told from a third-person limited point of view, it is important to note that the narrator in "Young Goodman Brown" is unreliable. This adds another layer of complexity to the interpretation of events. Throughout the story, the narrator presents the thoughts and perspectives of Goodman Brown without explicitly stating their source, leaving room for ambiguity and differing interpretations. This ambiguity could be seen in the following passage: "Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?" (Hawthorne). The use of the conditional "had" indicates uncertainty, prompting the reader to question the reliability of the narrator and consider alternative explanations for the events described.

Third Aspect: Omniscient Narrator's Interventions

While the story primarily employs a third-person limited point of view, there are instances where an omniscient narrator intervenes, providing additional insights and commentary. These interventions serve to guide the reader's interpretation and deepen their understanding of the story's themes. For instance, the narrator remarks, "It was strange to see that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints" (Hawthorne). By offering this broader perspective, the omniscient narrator encourages readers to reflect on the hypocrisy and moral ambiguity inherent in human nature. These interventions also highlight the narrator's authority and control over the story, further emphasizing the themes of judgment and self-reflection.


In conclusion, the point of view in Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" plays a crucial role in shaping the reader's understanding and interpretation of the narrative. The third-person limited point of view creates a strong connection between the reader and the protagonist, allowing for a more immersive and emotionally charged experience. The presence of an unreliable narrator adds layers of ambiguity and complexity, challenging readers to question the truthfulness of the events described. Additionally, the interventions of the omniscient narrator provide guidance and insight, encouraging readers to reflect on the deeper themes of the story. Through these various narrative techniques, Hawthorne effectively crafts a tale that invites readers to explore the dark recesses of the human psyche and confront their own inner demons.

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Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." The Norton Anthology of American Literature, edited by Nina Baym et al., W.W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 568-577.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Point of View in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Point of View in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Point of View in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Point of View in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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