No matter what period of time you live in there is always the thought in everyone’s mind of the devil or some type of evil spirit. These two short stories, Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and The Man in the Black Suit, by Stephen King, took place in different time periods. Although these two stories took place at different times, they still are very similar and touch upon many of the key points in literature, especially good versus evil. They also have their differences such as the ways they encounter the Devil, and how once encountered, their lives are never the same. They are both considerate men and worry about their families. Both of these main characters, Goodman Brown and Gary, are changed. Goodman Brown, after his dream, lost his faith in God and dies a miserable man. Gary, was terrified of the Devil for the rest of his life. These two stories will be compared and contrasted to show how, once they encountered the Devil, their lives were never the same.
The time frame of Young Goodman Brown, took place around the early 1690’s, in a town in New England during the period of time when the Salem Witch Trials were taking place. The Man in the Black in the Black Suit, was based on the story of Goodman Brown. It took place in 1914, in a country setting. A majority of both stories took place in the forest. Goodman Brown was a recently wed man who cared very much for his wife. He was a good man, as shown by his name, but he had some business to take care of and to do that he had to journey into the forest. Gary, the main character in, The Man in the Black Suit, was a young boy. Gary lived with his parents and had recently suffered the loss of his older brother who tragically died after being stung by a bee. Gary was also journeying into the forest, unsupervised, to go fishing at a nearby creek. These two stories although similar are written from two different points of view. Young Goodman Brown is a story being told by someone, as opposed to The Man in the Black Suit, where Gary is telling his own life story. While the plots of these two stories differ, there are many occurrences during each story that are very similar.
When departing for their journeys, they both leave something behind while walking away. They both worry about their families without them. They both consider going back because they are concerned about what they are leaving. Goodman looks back and sees his young wife, Faith. He looks at her face and sees her worry and concern, but he knows that he must continue and that he will see that face again the next day. When Gary looks back, he sees his mother waving to him. He knows how worried his mother is, not because Gary is going into the forest alone, but because she had already lost one son in the forest. He debates whether leaving his mother to worry is a good idea but takes the risk and continues on his way. Both of these characters show signs of hesitation, but their outcomes are the same. They continue on their way with the belief that nothing is going to happen to them.
They are both walking into a dark area that does not have a designated path. They hear sounds, they smell things, and they feel the gloom that lurks within the forest. While in the forest they both encounter an evil being. They both claim that the evil being before them must be the devil, or an apprentice of the devil. This person speaks to both of them, of course not at the same time, and he knows about their pasts. This person talks to Goodman about knowing his father and his grandfather. In The Man in the Black Suit, the devil kills the bee upon Gary’s lap with the simple clap of his hands. He refers to the death of Gary’s brother as if he had been there and gave great detail to what happened. He also informed Gary that at this moment his mother was suffering a bee sting that would end her life.
The devil as disguised in Young Goodman Brown is as described, “beheld the figure of a man, in grave and decent attire” (63). He assures Goodman that the help he is asking for is not something to be frightened of because both his father and grandfather had asked for help before. The person who speaks to Gary refers to him as “fisher boy.” The devil is disguised in The Man in the Black Suit as, “his face was very long and pale. His black hair was combed tight against his skull and parted with rigorous care on the left side of his narrow head. He was very tall. He was wearing a black three-piece suit, and I knew right away that he was not a human being, because his eyes were the orangey-red of flames in a woodstove. I don’t just mean the irises, because he had no irises, and no pupils, and certainly no whites. His eyes were completely orange – an orange that shifted and flickered” (77).
While Gary’s encounter ended with the meeting of the man in the black suit, Goodman’s did not. Goodman went on to seeing all sorts of evil things. He saw many members of his church congregation, but not in the atmosphere in which he was used to. He saw them all as evil people and all of these people were trying to convert him onto the dark side. This differed from Gary though because the devil did not try to convert, but more or less scared him to death.
Both of these characters when encountering this evil being had the thought to run, but in the end, they were so filled with fear they became immobile. The end of these two stories were almost exact in the way that each character dealt with the experience they had. They both came to the realization that what they saw could have possibly been a dream although there was evidence that there may have been some truth to the situation. However, in Young Goodman Brown’s story, it actually was a dream; a dream to test his faith in God. This journey of Goodman’s left him “a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man…” (71). In “The Man in the Black Suit, this encounter with the devil left him terrified, as shown here: “…those things are gone, but the face of the man in the black suit grows clearer and clearer to some indifferently built castle of sand, that terrible face grows clearer and clearer in my mind’s eye” (72). In either case, what these two characters encountered was something that haunted them throughout their lives and something that they could not let go out of their minds.
There were many similarities and differences I found when comparing and contrasting the theme of these two stories of “Young Goodman Brown,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “The Man in the Black Suit,” by Stephen King. Both stories both showed the theme of good versus evil, and also how once encountered by the Devil their lives were never again the same. Goodman Brown was left a miserable man and soon died a miserable death, but quite the opposite happened to Gary, who on the other hand was terrified for the rest of his life of the Devil and thought that everything about his old age was a curse from the devil. I would recommend anyone to read these two stories because in each of these stories, there was a lesson to be learned. Young Goodman Brown, God only wanted to his faith and steadfastness to see how strong he was in his Christian belief. In King’s story “The Man in the Black Suit,” is about a nine-year-old who totally blew off the devil and even calling the devil a “lying bastard” (79). It just goes to show that no matter how strong you think you are in your Christian beliefs, do not assume that temptation will not come to you. However, there is a similarity in Gary’s story, just because he was nine-years-old, it did not stop him from knowing who he was talking to or how to react to the devil. Thus, this is my conclusion for my essay.