Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Jack London’s To Build a Fire are two stories that are similar in the way that both men embark on a journey into the unknown and face a threat to themselves within it. The two narratives have like features and similarities in their plots, settings, and themes. These can however be also used to show the two tales differences. Young Goodman Brown is less effective at showing the flawed and self-destructive nature of humans compared to To Build a Fire because it has more imagination elements while To build a Fire uses more realistic attributes to strengthen its message.
Both of the stories incorporate the same idea for the plot, which being the main character ventures out to a remote place and experiences a danger or threat to themselves. In, Young Goodman Brown, Brown takes a walk into the forest and comes across the devil in the body of a man with the people of the town around him. “They did so; and, by the blaze of the hell-kindled torches, the wretched man beheld his Faith, and the wife her husband, trembling before that unhallowed altar.”, this shows that anyone is able to be corrupted into doing evil and bad sins. This is proven by the fact that even the main character’s own wife joins the devil himself, which means that even the most trusted of people can be holding deep dark secret. Goodman Brown also sees every single person that had any relation to the church were corrupted and had turned from the light side to the dark side. We automatically trust someone that we think we know; however, people could be using your trust as an excuse to not be someone who they say they are or making you perceive them as something they aren’t. The key factors that make the plot effective in showing that people are flawed are the time period and story line. Both of those factors fits with the mentality that people of the time were in. In colonial times around the 1700s when the story took place people saw the devil as an icon that used people’s temptations and desires against them.
However, in Build a Fire, the plot is even more effective at displaying the flawed nature of humans since the main character in this story makes very impulsive and unintelligent choices. The plot revolves around the man making the choice to travel into the artic even though “He remembers the old-timer telling him that it’s a really bad idea to travel alone in temperatures below minus fifty” and “Undoubtedly it was colder than fifty below”. To Build a Fire brings up a set of more realistic situations and consequences. The inpatient man being stubborn to the advice he was given and his naivety is his flaw. He went on his journey even thought it was the exact conditions the old man had warned him against, putting both himself and his dog’s life in danger. This mistake of his, revealed the man’s crude natural survival instinct was to “…kill the dog and bury his hands in the warmth of the body until the numbness went out.”, an incident that could’ve been avoided if he had been more aware and thoughtful about what the “Old timer” had advised him on. The lesson that can be taught to the reader from this situation is that humans do not take things that would lead themselves to harm into consideration, but instead do whatever is most beneficial to themselves.
Both stories have a similar plot to the movie Bird Box. It’s similar to Young Goodman Brown because in both plots the protagonist take a trot into the woods and find themselves dealing with a supernatural entity. It’s similar to To Build a Fire by the fact that both characters are made aware of the dangers of the actions they decide to take but take them anyways leading to the demise of both of them. The author also sets up her plot where the characters don’t take the clues and marks shown to them and their ignorance causes their death like the man in To Build A Fire, while on the other hand Goodman Brown takes advantage of the things he’s see and that lets his keep his life and go back to his life.
The main difference between the characters in Young Goodman Brown and To Build a Fire is the fact that the supporting characters in Goodman Brown were the ones that were self-destructive while in the other story the protagonist was the one that brought his downfall upon himself. The man’s selfish and ignorant actions, even after getting a warning from the old lead him to be willing to hurt his own dog and ultimately the taking of his life. The people in Young Goodman Brown gained their temptations from the Devil the man in To build a fire was brought to his demise by his own hard-headedness. This makes the role of the character more realistic compared to the other story because it a more plausible to happen in everyone’s day to day lives. The main factor that made the man self-destructive was his arrogance and self-confidence. “Undoubtedly it was colder than fifty below- But the temperature did not matter. He was bound for the old claim on the left fork of Henderson Creek.” this was the man’s mentality when he was first making his major mistake and “You were right, old hoss, you were right.” this was his final thought. Even though he knew it was below freezing outside he still decided to go out onto his eight hour walk across the artic plain. He figured out his mistake right as he was about to die and confessed that he was wrong, but then it was too late.
Both stories of Young Goodman Brown and To Build a Fire use the similar literary elements such as theme, plot, characters, and setting to portray the same message. The message being that human being have a tendency to be self-destructive and most of the time have multiple flaws. To Build a Fire does a better job at explaining the consequences of those actions because the plot is more realistic, relatable, and more likely to happen