“Young Goodman Brown” and “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” are stories of young men on journeys that are both real and allegorical. I have found that studying the two together can be helpful in gaining a better understanding of Hawthorne. To lighten your writing load, I am only requiring that you answer written questions about “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” and then to write a short paragraph on Goodman Brown. This paragraph is a new part of the assignment. I used to assign a comparison/contrast of the two stories, but I was not seeing original thought in those paragraphs.
“My Kinsman, Major Molineux”
To be honest, this story is like so many of Hawthorne’s stories. We could delve deeply into symbolism and hidden meanings; however, I plan to stay more “on the surface” with this one. That does not mean that this will be a simple and easy analysis of the story, though. I have taught this several times in earlier years and decided to add it back into the mix of Hawthorne stories because I have always liked it, I think it is easy to read, and it is great for helping you understand Hawthorne.
Before you read, review the themes found in Hawthorne, specifically the subconscious, loss of innocence, and ambiguity. You can find these themes in Content.
Robin Molineux is on a quest – a “real” one and an allegorical one. That will be the focus of the questions. Also, note that the first paragraph of the story describes the local unpopularity of the royally appointed Colonial governors in the American Colonies during the seventeenth century. This information serves as an important “preface” to the story. As you read on, you will understand why.
1. The first scene of the story shows Robin crossing the river on a ferry boat. What details do we learn in this scene about his situation and his character? (Think of his name – What does the name “Robin” bring to mind? Notice his dress, his physical features, age, etc. READ CLOSELY.)
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