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Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

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Young Goodman Brown Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Young Goodman Brown Include:

The story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a dark and eerie tale of one man’s fear and paranoia of evil within the world.

Young Goodman Brown Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

"Young Goodman Brown" Plot Diagram


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A common activity for students is to create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of a plot but to reinforce major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard that captures the concept of the narrative arc in a story by creating a six-cell storyboard which contains the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in a sequence using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example "Young Goodman Brown" Plot Diagram

Exposition

The story begins when Goodman must say goodbye to his wife, Faith, to go on an errand. Faith tells Brown that she is not comfortable staying by herself and wished he would not go.


Major Inciting Conflict

Brown leaves without stating the purpose of the journey, yet the reader infers that the reason is related to dark matters. On his way he encounters the devil who attempts to woo him.


Rising Action

Despite numerous persuasive tactics, Brown refuses the devil; until he thinks he hears Faith’s scream. Using the devil’s staff, Brown is transported to the devil's forest ceremony.


Climax

At the ceremony the fire lights the faces of good pious people in his community: the Deacon Gookin, Goody Cloyse, and others. Suddenly, he realizes that Faith is among them. As he tells her to resist the devil and look towards the heavens he is transported back through the forest alone.


Falling Action

The next morning, Brown returns to the village unaware if what he experienced was real or a dream. He sees the same members of the community that were at the fire and cries out defaming them in wickedness.


Resolution

For the rest of his life, he is changed, trusting no one, especially not his wife, Faith.


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Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of "Young Goodman Brown".


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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"Young Goodman Brown" Vocabulary Graphic Organizer


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Another great way to engage your students is through the creation of storyboards that uses vocabulary from text. Here is a list of a few vocabulary words commonly taught with the short story and an example of a visual vocabulary board.

Example Vocabulary Words from “Young Goodman Brown”

  • melancholy
  • pious
  • visage
  • firmament
  • martyrs
  • festoon
  • proselytes
  • blasphemy
  • wanton
  • anathema
  • catechism
  • cognizance
  • exhorted
  • righteousness
  • wretched

In the vocabulary board, students can choose between coming up with their use of the vocabulary storyboard, finding the specific example from the text, or depicting it without words.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in "Young Goodman Brown" by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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TWIST in "Young Goodman Brown"


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Another great way to engage your students is through the creation of storyboards that asks your students to find Tone, Word Choice, Imagery, Style, and Theme. This activity is called a TWIST (an acronym for the above literary elements). In a TWIST students focus on a particular paragraph or few pages to look deeper at the author’s true meaning.



Using any paragraph of “Young Goodman Brown”, students examine, depict, explain, and foreshadow what will happen in the story while getting a good idea of the tone of the story.

TWIST Example for “Young Goodman Brown”

“While he still gazed upward into the deep arch of the firmament and had lifted his hands to pray, a cloud, though no wind was stirring, hurried across the zenith and hid the brightening stars. The blue sky was still visible, except directly overhead, where this black mass of cloud was sweeping swiftly northward. Aloft in the air, as if from the depths of the cloud, came a confused and doubtful sound of voices. Once the listener fancied that he could distinguish the accents of towns-people of his own, men and women, both pious and ungodly, many of whom he had met at the communion table, and had seen others rioting at the tavern. The next moment, so indistinct were the sounds, he doubted whether he had heard aught but the murmur of the old forest, whispering without a wind. Then came a stronger swell of those familiar tones, heard daily in the sunshine at Salem village, but never until now from a cloud of night There was one voice of a young woman, uttering lamentations, yet with an uncertain sorrow, and entreating for some favor, which, perhaps, it would grieve her to obtain; and all the unseen multitude, both saints and sinners, seemed to encourage her onward.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown

T

TONE

Confused & Perplexed: Young Goodman Brown is confused and in disbelief. His faith is tested when he is tossed into the devil's circle and sees so many members of his community that he once believed were pious.
W

WORD CHOICE

Hid, cloud, black mass, confused, doubtful, indistinct, murmurs, whisper
I

IMAGERY

“...he... had lifted his hands to pray, a cloud, though no wind was stirring, hurried across the zenith and hid the brightening stars. The blue sky was still visible, except directly overhead, where this black mass of cloud was sweeping swiftly northward.”
S

STYLE

The narrator uses particular imagery and metaphors in his description to illustrate the evil around him. Although he searched for God, there were literal obstacles which kept him from goodness.
T

THEME

The narrator speaks of the darkness that surrounds him as a physical veil from goodness. The darkness, doubt, and fear he experiences are clearly the work of the devil. The major theme is the loss of innocence. As he looks around at community members and even at his own wife he realizes that his faith has been shattered.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Perform a TWIST analysis of a selection from "Young Goodman Brown". Remember that TWIST stands for Tone, Word Choice, Imagery, Style, Theme.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Choose any combination of scenes, characters, items, and text to represent each letter of TWIST.
  3. Write a few sentences describing the importance or meaning of the images.
  4. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.
  5. Save and submit storyboard to assignment.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Allegory and Symbols in "Young Goodman Brown"


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When studying allegorical texts, it is important that students understand the concept as a foundation for the reading. An allegory is like an extended metaphor, where elements of the story are symbolic of a deeper meaning. Since allegories are works that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning (usually moral or political), it is important that students engage not only with the surface details, but with this deeper level as well.

In “Young Goodman Brown”, Hawthorne uses each character to represent an extended metaphor for the balance between heaven and hell, goodness and evil, and even his loss of faith. By using a storyboard, students can visually depict each of these symbols like in the example below.


Symbols: Young Goodman Brown Analysis

Young Goodman Brown

This story is meant to be an allegorical reference to Adam and Eve and the fall of man. As Brown is tempted by the stranger with the serpent’s staff, his curiosity and the Devil's trickery get the better of him. Brown knows he should stay away from the ceremony in the forest, but the temptation to know if Faith was there or not became too great for him. By going to the ceremony, Brown gains knowledge that changes him for the worst and causes him to lose faith in humanity.


Faith

In the story, Faith is Brown’s wife. When we first see her, Hawthorne makes note of a pink ribbon in her hair; a symbol of her innocence. As Brown makes his journey throughout the forest, he continually uses “Faith” as his motivation to stay true. However, when he hears Faith’s voice, which he presumes is heard from the Devil’s ceremony, he rushed forward. This time we see Faith ‘cloaked’; when the hoods of the inductees are lifted, Brown learns that his “Faith” is gone. As he looks around and sees numerous community members, including his wife, consorting with the Devil, he metaphorically and literally loses his wife and his religious faith.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows examples of allegory in "Young Goodman Brown".


  1. Identify instances of allegory in the text.
  2. Depict and describe the example of allegory from the text on the left side.
  3. Depict and describe the reference to the larger issue or event on the right side.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Young Goodman Brown Summary

Hawthorne uses heavy allegory to portray the idea that there is a very fine balance of good and evil in the word. The story begins when Goodman must say goodbye to his wife, Faith, to go on an errand. Faith tells Brown that she is not comfortable staying by herself and wished he would not go. However, Brown leaves without stating the purpose of the journey, yet the reader can infer that the reason is related to dark matters.

While on his way a figure, later identified as the Devil personified, accompanies him. The Devil insistently tries to coerce Brown into joining his group of converters. Despite numerous persuasive tactics, Brown refuses the Devil; until he thinks he hears Faith’s scream. Using the Devil’s staff, Brown is transported to the Devil's forest ceremony.

At the ceremony the fire lights the faces of good pious people in his community; the Deacon Gookin, Goody Cloyse, and others. Suddenly, he realizes that Faith is among them. As he tells her to resist the Devil and look towards the heavens, he is transported back through the forest alone.

The next morning, Brown returns to the village, unaware if what he experienced was real or a dream. He sees the same members of the community that were at the fire and cries out defaming them in wickedness. For the rest of his life he is changed, trusting no one, especially not his wife Faith.


Essential Questions for “Young Goodman Brown”

  1. Do thoughts make someone evil, or do their actions?
  2. What are some things in life that you cannot take back?
  3. How do good authors use allegories to make their point known to their readers?

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