In this world, many people live with uncertainties in their daily life and just as it happens in real life situations, these issues are brought out in the two short stories “The Veldt”, and in “Young Goodman Brown”. In Young Goodman Brown, Goodman Brown struggles between personal freedom and conventionality. He lives with the fear that evil might one day engulf his world of purity. In the Veldt, the two parents are worried that the nursery has taken over their role as parents and therefore their children no longer need them. This essay will, therefore, try to find out whether these characters confronted their fears or not.
It can be argued that the characters in these two stories did face their fears, but if you explore a little bit deep, it comes out clearly that they failed to address their problems head on. In The Veldt, the family failed to address its fears head on. This is shown with the apparent lack communication between the parents and their children. The family never dealt with the deep issues that affected it. The parents entrusted everything to technology, the nursery. It did everything in the family including taking over the role of parenthood. They realized that something was bothering their children but instead of directly asking them, they sought the help of a psychiatrist. This made Peter and Wendy feel neglected; they felt as if they didn’t have parents. The kids were also deeply immersed in technology that they too did not do anything to rescue the situation. They did not tell their parents what was bothering them; they turned to the nursery as a parental substitute, as their guardian. The nursery became their home away from home, it became their parent, and it was always there when they need it. Peter says, “You aren’t going to lock up the nursery for good, are you?” (Bradbury 1).
In Young Goodman Brown, Goodman Brown fears evil so much, in his vision while walking through the forest he says, “There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree.” (Hawthorne 9). He said this while glancing fearfully behind. He added, “what if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!” (Hawthorne 1). He fears the devil so much not knowing that the devil is but himself, it is all in his own imagination. Goodman has just left his recently married wife Faith, to a journey to an unknown destination. During his journey Brown suffers a conflict in the woods; this is something internal, projections of his unconscious. The arguments he engages in with the devil apparently sprung from up in the bosom of his auditor, himself. His fears are even more pronounced when the echoes of the forest mock him. In his vision, Brown has placed his ancestors into one figure, that of the devil, he also associates any authority figure in his life with the devil. He does not understand himself, he is the devil himself, and in fact, we are told that the devil had a close resemblance to Brown. The devil even boosts that he knows Brown’s father and grandfather (Hawthorne 1).
Just like in The Veldt, Brown detests figures of parental authority, which according to him is in league with the devil. On the way Brown sees Goody Cloyse, a very God fearing woman, talking to the devil. He also hears the minister and deacon going to the Sabbath ritual. This led him to lose faith and distances himself from his forefathers and those in authority. In the Veldt, the children and their parents lost trust in each other, and a distance developed between them. The technological fiction in form of the nursery came between members of this family and separated them, and the illusions of evil in Brown’s dream distanced him from the society. At the end of his journey, he refuses to be initiated into the community, shattering his dream vision. He rejects social authority including his dead father, his mother. In fact, the devil says, “All whom yea have reverenced from youth” (Hawthorne p 1). He sees all the good Christian forefathers and all figures of authority as devil worshipers and hence hypocrites. He is faced with to questions, to conform to their way of life and join them or rebel. Brown decides to go his own way, rebel, and a choice that leads to his emotional maturation. He thus confronts his enemy the devil and rejects its allure. He says, “Faith! Faith! “Look up to heaven and resist the wicked one.” Although this makes him achieve independence thereby establishing his own identity, it also leads to a premature hardening of his emotional life. He becomes exactly what he rebelled against, the devil. This type of change can not be said to be growth because he becomes static, he did not move away from what was already there, he “shrank from the bosom of Faith,” (Hawthorne p1). Hawthorne has used Brown to criticize the bad people in society. Brown does not agree to the devil’s attempt to initiate him into the devil society although he ends up one of them. He says, “My Faith is gone! There is no good on earth, and sin is but a name. Come, the devil; for to thee is this world given.” (Hawthorne 1).
In the Veldt we see the mother so terrified by the new technology in the form of the nursery. It can read a person’s mind and project it on the walls. It is real in every respect including sound and smell. It becomes scary when it moves to Africa showing lions hunting and killing with eerily screams. Because of this fear, the parents decide to shut off the room for some time, but as they ponder over this, they discover that the house has been doing everything for them and therefore another fear of who will replace it creeps in. the Husband says, “but I thought that is why I bought this house, so we wouldn’t have to do anything?” (Bradbury 1). This shows that the parents had been deeply affected by the technology, they had become their slave, and they could not do anything without it. It also emerged that the kids were more connected to the nursery than to the parents and therefore the fears conflicted. This does not mean that the children are evil; it is only natural for them to react this way because it is like taking their parents away from them. It is also the parents to blame for introducing their kids to technology. The only difference here is that the parents being taken away are not the biological parents but the house. Parents being torn between the fear of the house and the fear of not disappointing their kids, allow themselves to be lured back into the house. The children lock them in the house, and it is at this moment that they realize that the familiar screams they had heard were, in fact, their own screams. They were being eaten up by the lions (Bradbury 1).
In Young Goodman Brown, Brown represents humankind, through him, we see that in order for man to progress in life, he or she must confront the disillusionment of reality. The way things are in reality is not always exactly the way they are portrayed. People must come to terms with the limitations and imperfections, those they possess and those of others. Before doing anything questions must be asked and their answers sought so that an understanding of the truths that affect humans is reached. Just as what happened in Young Goodman Brown, brown ended up being part of the evil, it is a reconciling relief that more often than not, evil wins over good. An individual should, therefore, attain a higher and greater hope, one that Goodman Brown never achieved because his last hours were full of gloom. In the Veldt the same theme emerges, that people should wake up from their dreams, illusions, and fantasies and face the reality. The technology in form of the nursery is just but fantasy now just as it was those years. The idea that technology would come up strongly and take the important role in the children’s lives is not a joke. The question that should be asked is how much parents are willing to let it influence their children’s lives. It should not be like what happened in the Veldt where the parents allowed the house to do everything including take up their role as parents, only to react when it was too late. This is where the failure to confront their fears comes out clearly. They did not face their fears albeit knowing of their existence, a factor that led to their death. The fear that the lions were eating something was true, and that something was, in fact, themselves. They were being eaten up by their own fear just as Brown was eaten up or engulfed by his own fear. Had they addressed their fears early they would have overcome them.