Research Essay Proposal
The stories chosen for this research proposal are Young Goodman Brown by Hawthorne and The Yellow Wallpaper by Gilman. Both stories are full of themes and symbols that can be found in the other as far as power and evil are concerned. In fact, the basis of each story can be summed up as the struggle of a good person and their eventual failure. While Goodman falls inevitably into evil, the narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper also gives in to the evil around her.
Women’s Position in Society
Both stories talk extensively about how society has shifted power away from women. For Young Goodman Brown, the women were not given the opportunity to make their own choices. Brown’s Faith was forced into the initiation ceremony held by the devil. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator was not allowed to make decisions on how she wanted to be treated. In both cases, thus, the society has viewed women as people to be protected as they are deemed fragile. In the end, however, the women in both cases can no longer be viewed as damsels in distress as they had effectively thrown off the label of innocence.
The Evils of Society
It was surprisingly in both stories to learn that the characters are plagued with evil from the very beginning to the ends. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator is afflicted with her condition. As the story develops, the reader can assume that the progress of her illness is due to the availability of a kind of talent. As she slowly makes an analysis of the painting, one can imagine that she was coming up with great ideas only to end up in a frenzy and illusional. On the other hand, Brown is plagued with a certain curiosity about evil that he ends up being corrupted by it. In his story, one hopes that he will overcome evil only to fall by the wayside when he gives in to the temptation of the staff.
In both stories, the aspect of irony reigns supreme. In the first case, it is ironical that the husband to the narrator does not seem to offer her what she needs to get well. He is a doctor who should know that dealing with such a condition requires someone to be outdoors and getting active. Rather he keeps her indoors where she eventually gives in to insanity. For Brown, the people he thought were the pillars of hope in society such as the clergymen were the known people at the ceremony held by the devil. It is also ironic that Brown’s wife, symbolically named Faith, ends up a part of the devil’s plans. Everything changes for the worse in both tales.
Symbolism stood out very much as far as the shifts in power went. In the first incidence, the narrator slowly takes interest in the yellow painting on the whole. Although the painting starts off as a simple object on the world, it crystallizes into a symbol of torment that sends the narrator into insanity. On the part of Brown, the pink ribbon worn by Faith were a symbol of innocence but ended up falling from the sky as a sign of the lose of innocence. The shift of power in both cases went from the afflicted to the evil in society which is insanity and the devil respectively.
These cases show that society is rife with evil that tramples the innocent giving them the option of giving in to it or remaining to suffer. In both cases, the dominance of the evil ones is evident.
Gilman, C. P. The Yellow Wallpaper. The New England Magazine. 1892.
Hawthorne, N. Young Goodman Brown. The New England Magazine. 1835.
Hugvisindasviq, E. Behind the Wallpaper. Haskoli Islands.
This source provides a feminist view of the story and how women were treated. It is important given that it presents a different view to the one prevalent.
Hollister, M. Analysis: Young Goodman Brown.
This analysis presents a contemporary view of the story.
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