Close reading

Close reading


  1. Excerpt: I have been in the midst of those roaring lions, and savage bears, that feared neither God, nor man, nor the devil, by night and day, alone and in company, sleeping all sorts together, and yet not one of them ever offered me the least abuse of unchastity to me, in word or action.  Though some are ready to say I speak it for my own credit; but I speak it in the presence of God, and to His Glory.  God’s power is as great now, and as sufficient to save, as when He preserved Daniel in the lion’s den; or the three children in the fiery furnace.

Answer: This excerpt has a conspicuous meaning of a character wrapped up in an uneasy situation. The passage could also be interpreted to mean the animosity and cruelty of the environment in which the character lives. However, God’s power depicts the essence of believing that some supernatural power exists that can turn bad situations around to opportunities. The theme supported is religion. The perspective upholds the fact that God delivers the believers from any sort of bad omen.

  1. Excerpt: PROCTOR, with a cry of his whole soul:  Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!  [Note to students:  Please keep in mind that there is no historical record of the real John Proctor being asked to pin his name on the church door, or making any comment about his name.

Answer:  Proctor may be literally viewed as a committed religionist. The character’s close association with the church indicates a person leading modern Christian life. However, an in-depth analysis proctor notices the illiteracy in him. He wonders how he would live without his name after being requested to pin it on the wall as part of confession. The excerpt enhances the theme of righteousness in the society. Proctor is depicted as an honest, religious, and blunt-spoken character.

  1. Excerpt: Young Goodman Brown came forth, at sunset, into the street of 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.  “Dearest heart,” whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, “pr’y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed tonight.  A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she’s afeard of herself, sometimes.  Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!”  “My love and my Faith,” replied young Goodman Brown, “of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee.  My journey, as though callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done ‘twixt now and sunrise.  What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost though doubt me already, and we but three months married!”

Answer: A superficial analysis could fail to establish the nature of Brown’s job. Faith’s plea to spend a night with her husband is interpreted to mean the couple spent most of the time apart. The encounter is essential in highlighting the plight of women left alone as their husbands pursue economic goals. Family ties are part of the themes of the story. The use of Goodman’s family and the accompanying nature of life express the mounting need for husband and wife reunion.

  1. Excerpt: “[Faith is] a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven.” [Thought young Goodman Brown].

With this excellent resolve for his future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose.  He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind.  It was all as lonely as could be; and there is this peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveler knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that, with lonely footsteps, he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude.

Answer: Goodman Brown appears held up by his job that prevents the character from spending time with his wife. Although the passage can be interpreted differently, it is almost unnoticed that Brown succumbs to Faith’s plea and chooses to appreciate the woman more than the job. In fact, Goodman hopes to stay close to the beautiful wife even after the one night requested.

  1. Excerpt: At the close of the services, the people hurried out with indecorous confusion, eager to communicate their pent-up amazement, and conscious of lighter spirits the moment they lost sight of the black veil. Some gathered in little circles, huddled closely together, with their mouths all whispering in the center; some went homeward alone, wrapt in silent meditation; some talked loudly, and profaned the Sabbath day with ostentatious laughter. A few shook their sagacious heads, intimating that they could penetrate the mystery; while one or two affirmed that there was no mystery at all, but only that Mr. Hooper’s eyes were so weakened by the midnight lamp, as to require a shade. After a brief interval, forth came good Mr. Hooper also, in the rear of his flock. Turning his veiled face from one group to another, he paid due reverence to the hoary heads, saluted the middle aged with kind dignity as their friend and spiritual guide, greeted the young with mingled authority and love, and laid his hands on the little children’s heads to bless them. Such was always his custom on the Sabbath day. Strange and bewildered looks repaid him for his courtesy.

Answer: Mr. Hooper’s congregation might have had an idea of the nature of mystery before as the superficial concept means. However, the scene turned out scary after witnessing an unexpected activity. Elizabeth’s reactions were not part of the expectations of the crowd. Therefore, the excerpt furthers the theme of supernatural powers among people. The disappearance of the black veil and Elizabeth’s abnormal reaction adds to the mystery.








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