Comparing Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"
with the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil"
Subject: Literature/Literary Devices: Theme;
Ages: 14+: High School Level;
Length: Video: 8 minutes; Lesson: one 45 - 55 minute class periods.
Excerpts from the Complete Snippet Lesson Plan
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students studying American Literature will gain a sense of the writing of Nathaniel Hawthorne and see connections between his advanced thinking and similar themes found in pop culture. Students will make connections between the written word and other forms of media and be able to analyze and interpret the ideas and express contained therein. They will practice expressing heir ideas in a compare/contrast essay. Click Here for the specific College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards, set out in the 2010 Common Core State Standards, which are served by this Snippet Lesson Plan.
Rationale: The comparison between American literature of the first half of the 19th century and modern rock and roll will engage students and interest them in completing their assignments.
Description of the Film Clip: Hawthorne tells a story about a young man who leaves his wife, Faith, to explore the dark side by going into the forest at night to see what evils lurk there. He has an appointment to meet a stranger who can be seen as the personification of the devil. The stranger shows to Goodman Brown the hypocrisy and evil of the allegedly good people in his town and his family. The lyrics of "Sympathy for the Devil" communicate the same idea making reference to historical events in an echo of the examples given by the stranger. The events transcend time and are dissimilar in detail showing the broad range of evil in human affairs and the frequent duplicity in human behavior.
USING THE FILM CLIP IN THE CLASSROOM
1. Review the story and the video to make sure they are suitable for the class.
2. Print the sections of Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown" that you intend to use to make the comparison between Hawthorne's literature and the music video. You may want to the students to read the story from the beginning since it sets up the situation. The specific paragraphs you will use for comparison to the music begins with "His head being turned back" and a description of the stranger nine paragraphs into the narrative. They end when the stranger says to Brown, " . . . prithee, don't kill me with laughing."
3. On the Internet, look for the rendition of the music video of Sympathy for the Devil that will work best for the class. Note the drawings on Jagger's left arm and chest when he takes off his shirt.
4. Photocopy the lyrics for "Sympathy for the Devil" for distribution to the class or write them on the board before the class enters.
Step by Step
5. Ask several to students to describe what the devil and evil means to them. Response will vary and all serious efforts should be respected. Some students will state that the devil is a real being, the fallen angel Lucifer; others will see the devil as a concept representing a person's loss of integrity.
6. Introduce the reading by explaining Nathaniel Hawthorne's place in American Literature. The depth of the presentation will depend upon what students already know about both Hawthorne and the historical period of which he wrote. For information on Puritan society, see TWM's Learning Guide to The Scarlet Letter. Should your students be assigned to read The Scarlet Letter you will be able to use both this excerpt and the music video to prepare them for the tone and tenor of the novel.
7. Hand out the short story excerpt and read it with the class.
[The remaining steps in the Snippet Lesson Plan provide discussion questions, suggested responses, and assignments comparing the themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" with the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil."]
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A comparison of "Young Goodman Brown" and "Sympathy for the Devil" will provide new perspectives on Hawthorne's classic in light of the Rolling Stones' song.
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