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Vocabulary in Young Goodman Brown

Vocabulary Examples in Young Goodman Brown:

Young Goodman Brown


"how many a woman, eager for widows' weeds, has given her husband a drink at bedtime and let him sleep his last sleep in her bosom;..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Based on context, the expression “widows’ weeds” likely refers to the mourning clothes worn after the death of a woman’s husband. The devil continues to emphasize how many people have performed sinful deeds when not in the public eye.

"converts..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The noun “convert” is generally used as a religious term for someone who accepts a new faith. Here, the meaning is twisted as the converts are not accepting Christianity; they are turning to the devil.

"As the red light arose and fell, a numerous congregation alternately shone forth, then disappeared in shadow, and again grew, as it were, out of the darkness, peopling the heart of the solitary woods at once...."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Since Hawthorne has revealed the forest to be a place full of sin, the presence of a “congregation” in the “heart of the solitary woods” reveals the pervasiveness of evil. A “congregation” typically refers to a group of people who gather for a church service, giving this word religious and moral connotations. While Puritan congregations try to cleave away their evil tendencies by appearing good to one another, this congregation in the dark woods further supports the idea that evil is an indelible part of human nature that will always find its place.

"Spur up..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The verb “to spur up” means to increase speed. It comes from the practice of using spurs to prick a horse in order to make it go faster.

"Indian powwows..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The noun “powwow” is rooted in North American Indian culture and tradition. It can refer to a religious or magical ceremony. It also can refer to a council or conference of Native Americans. Regardless of the nature of the meeting, the Puritans viewed powwows as a kind of non-Christian, or pagan, behavior.

"ordination..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

In a religious context, the noun “ordination” refers to the ceremony in which an individual takes vows to become a preacher or priest.

"we shall be there in a twinkling..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The noun “twinkling” means the time required for a wink—which is instantaneous for the purposes of this expression. Another similar expression is to say “be there in a flash.” The idea that witches could travel in supernatural ways was a popular superstition among the Puritans.

"the juice of smallage, and cinquefoil, and wolf's bane...."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The list of items here are all associated with sorcery and witchcraft: “smallage” and “cinquefoil” are herbs, and wolf's bane is toxic if consumed, making it a kind of poison.

"Deacon Gookin..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The title of “deacon” refers to a minister or officer in the Christian church. Typically deacons perform administrative functions at the church and distribute the elements at communion during the Sabbath.

"Goody Cloyse..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The name “Goody” is a shortened form for Goodwife and is used as a title before a woman’s last name. In the case of Goodman, it is the masculine form of Goodwife. These titles are archaic forms now often replaced with “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” or “Ms.”

"a pitch-pine knot..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

A “knot” is usually a combining of parts of one or more ropes, strips of cloth, or anything flexible enough to bind. The compound adjective “pitch-pine” refers to the “pitch,” or sap, from a “pine,” a type of evergreen tree. A pitch-pine knot then is likely highly flammable, and such a thing could be thrown into a village and cause a fire—exactly like what the devil says Goodman Brown’s father did.

"having kept covenant by meeting thee here..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The noun “covenant” refers to an agreement, in particular one that is solemn and binding. The word has been historically associated with making a covenant with God to be a Christian. Because Goodman Brown had previously vowed to journey into the woods to meet the devil, his covenant is an inversion of his Puritan faith.

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