As one might imagine, it took a while for American literature to develop as an independent genre: the tasks of taking a continental wilderness and turning it into a habitable region, and then into an independent country, left scant leisure time for the generation of literature. However, as the young United States of American began to enter its fourth and fifth decades, some of its first major authors began to emerge. Two of these were Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and their writings began to define the American experience for the rest of the world, and show how the North American continent had shaped its colonists and citizens. "Rip Van Winkle" and "Young Goodman Brown" are two different takes on the changes that the American experience had on European sensibilities.
According to John Hardt, both "Rip Van Winkle" and "Young Goodman Brown" contain examples of "paradisal skepticism," or "a retreat from the paradisal ideal with a recognition of limits in human knowledge" (Hardt, p. 249). ...Show more