THESIS: In “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, imagery and characterization are employed to illustrate the ever present inner darkness of humanity. However, the authors set very different themes in how their protagonists reflect upon and respond to being faced with it. Both men must choose whether they will reject and confront evil or simply abide it with apathy.
I. The dark imagery used in both stories convert evil into a nearly tangible entity. a. The lack of visibility in these stories corresponds to the fear felt by both men. b. The dense jungle/forest instills a sense of chaos that disallows either man to tread a safe path.
II. The antagonists of these stories are both characterized as incarnate evil, however, each exhibit deceptively likable traits. c. General Zaroff and old Goodman Brown are both very friendly, accommodating, intelligent and well spoken. d. Rainsford and young Goodman Brown are both wooed and encouraged by their respective villains to join them willingly.
III. Rainsford and young Goodman Brown both resist the impending darkness, yet the final disposition of each set very different themes. e. Both men attempt to flee from their dark companions until they realize the futility of their efforts. f. Rainsford is firm in this contempt of the evil presented to him and demonstrates how a person can confront and overcome evil. g. Young Goodman Brown chooses to accept man’s dark nature with a sense of inevitability and malaise.
The story Young Goodman Brown is one that examines the true disposition of mankind. In the story, the devil declares that Evil is the nature of ... that evil prevails in all people. Our first look into the true character of man is when it is revealed that Goodman Brown is ... making a journey for an evil purpose. Instead of staying ...
The Short Story: A Comparison and Contrast of “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Most Dangerous Game”
In “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, imagery and characterization are employed to illustrate the ever present inner darkness of humanity. However, the authors set very different themes in how their protagonists reflect upon and respond to being faced with it. Both men must choose whether they will reject and confront evil or simply abide it with apathy.
The dark imagery used in both stories gives dread feelings a near tangible quality. The hero’s of both tales are apprehensive of the blackness around them right from the onset; as if they not only sense the danger they are approaching, but can almost feel it as well. Young Goodman Brown begins his trek with a strong feeling of solitude. The inability to see far in front or behind sends him into a fearful rant, “What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!” (Hawthorne, 263) Likewise, the blackness that Sanger Rainsford finds himself in is nearly impenetrable, “‘You’ve good eyes… but even you can’t see four miles or so through a moonless Caribbean night’ said Whitney. ‘Nor four yards,’ admitted Rainsford “. (Connell, 1)
In addition to the lack of visibility, both men find that the respective dense forest or jungle which surrounds them adds to their sense of desperation. Goodman Brown sets off down “…a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through…” (Hawthorne, 263).
So precarious is his route that he actually worries about hidden marauders along the way, “There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree” (Hawthorne, 263).
Similarly, Rainsford, in his frantic attempts to evade General Zaroff, struggles through the “…trackless wilderness…with hands and face lashed by the branches…” (Connell, 10).
Other than the grave imagery in their surroundings, the villains in these stories are characterized as incarnate evil. However, both old Goodman Brown and General Zaroff are introduced as very likeable fellows. Hawthorne describes young Goodman Brown’s companion, who is later revealed as Lucifer by reference to “his once angelic nature” (270), as one who “would not have felt abashed at the governor’s dinner-table, or in King William’s court” (264).
The Traditional Approach 1. ) Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem Massachusetts in 1804. Hawthorn was also a descendant of Puritan ancestors, one of which being a judge responsible for the Salem witch trials. Therefore the combination of Hawthorn's family history and the given history of his birthplace, helped influences his choice for maintaining a Puritan New England type setting for much of ...
From the outset of their walk together, old Goodman Brown is very accommodating. He offers the younger his staff to help speed his pace (Hawthorne, 264).
He even shares a jolly banter with Goody Cloyse, an elderly woman whom young Goodman Brown recognizes, and likewise, offers his staff to aid her (Hawthorne, 266).
Old Goodman Brown also gives an articulate counter for every argument young Goodman Brown has to cut their walk short and return home. For example, when young Goodman Brown boasts the honesty and goodness of his father and grandfather, the traveler responds that “I have been well acquainted with your family… They were my good friends” (Hawthorne, 264).
The fact that young Goodman Brown had never heard of such a communion spoken of in his family is almost convincing to him of its plausibility.
Connell also masks General Zaroff’s evil nature with an air of friendliness and respectability. From the moment that Rainsford appears at the front door, the general is welcoming and kind. He gives Rainsford food, shelter, and offers his own clothes for Rainsford to wear (Connell, 4).
During the course of their conversation, General Zaroff explains to Rainsford that they are kindred spirits as fellow hunters. Having dominated every prey he has ever stalked, Zaroff has become bored with traditional hunting and extols the merit of a new game that he has devised, “it supplies me with the most exciting hunting in the world. No other hunting compares with it for an instant” (Connell, 6).
The general is sure that, as a fellow enthusiast, Rainsford will be inspired by the genius of matching human hunting skill against the resourcefulness of human prey.
Rainsford and young Goodman Brown are both resistant to the suggestions and advances of their dark companions. They attempt to escape from the evil they perceive until they realize the futility of their efforts. Young Goodman Brown, after thinking of his wife, Faith, proclaims, “…my mind is made up. Not another step will I make on this errand” (Hawthorne, 266) and sits down by the roadside. It is only after he hears the voices of two of his most trusted mentors traveling on to the witch’s meeting and that of his dear Faith being taken there forcibly, that Brown resigns himself to his fate and continues.
Yong Goodman Brown - the development of plot 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. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap while she called to Goodman Brown." ...
Similarly, Rainsford makes several flat firm demands to leave the general’s island. He places his trust in the fact that Zaroff is a gentleman and will honor his request despite his knowledge of the murderous game that takes place there. It is only after the general turns the tables and suggests that Rainsford participate, not as a hunter but as prey, that he has full realization of his predicament. The general solidified his intentions by saying, “I drink to a foeman worthy of my steel – at last” (Connell, 9).
The fundamental difference in the underlying themes of these stories is illustrated in the final disposition of each protagonist. Young Goodman Brown, after seeing the dark nature that is present in all humanity is described as “a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man” (Hawthorne, 271).
He looks at the world and people around him with disdain despite any good that might be outwardly evident. The inevitability of evil was so pressed on him that, “… they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom” (Hawthorne, 271).
On the other hand, Rainsford sets out from the general’s gate frantically at first, but soon resolves to beat Zaroff at his own game. Rainsford’s methods and devices become more complex as the hunt continues and the will to survive takes hold. His determination is made clear as he tells himself, “I will not lose my nerve. I will not” (Connell, 11).
Rather than consigning himself to the seeming pointlessness of evading the general and giving up, Rainsford maneuvers until he gains the upper hand and finishes the game on his own terms. The satisfaction of victory over impending darkness is summed up in Connell’s ending, “He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided” (13).
A fundamental choice is presented in these two short stories. Even though evil is real and present in the world, does one accept its existence or overcome it? The authors’ final statements regarding young Goodman Brown and Sanger Rainsford are excellent depictions of the merit, if any, of both alternatives.
Sanger Rainsford: The Realist The most dangerous game began as a sport for one man. His name is Sanger Rainsford. In Richard Connell's story "The Most Dangerous Game," Sanger Rainsford, an avid hunter, is lost at sea, stranded on "Ship-Trap" Island-every sailor's worst nightmare. Rainsford goes through a series of events that prove to be life-altering. Even though Sanger Rainsford went through ...
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Sixth ed. Ed. Kennedy, X.J. and Dana Gioia. New York, NY: Pearson, 2010. 263-71. Print.
Connell, Richard. “The Most Dangerous Game.” ENGL 102: Composition and Literature. Liberty University, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2011