Had Young Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the woods and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch meeting? - Essay Prowess

Had Young Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the woods and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch meeting?

Had Young Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the woods and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch meeting?


ENGL 1118 / Reading and Writing Critically II





Consider the question posed towards the end of “Young Goodman Brown”:  “Had Young Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the woods and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch meeting?”  Your task is to answer this question.

You can attempt to answer in the positive (yes:  he falls asleep, and it’s all a dream) or the negative (no:  he’s awake, and it’s all real).  In either case, it’s not enough simply to make your statement:  You need to provide textual evidence to support your view!

In addition to conforming strictly to the MLA guidelines for format, your essay will include flawless grammar, cogent reasoning, precise textual evidence, a compelling conclusion, and citations from the text to back up your assertions.


to present your understanding of a work (in this case, “Young Goodman Brown”) and to explain – through textual evidence – what led you to that understanding


You’ll be writing for people who, though familiar with the story that you’re examining, may need a little reminding about particular events, and who are willing to be persuaded by your interpretation.  In practical terms, this means that you should avoid plot summary – that is, don’t tell your readers what happens in the story; tell them your argument about the story.


Your textbook offers a number of these on p. 1128, as follows:

  • Make quick notes as you read or reread the work.
  • Consider which aspect of the work affected you most.  (Note:  This bit has been taken care of for you, as above:  You’re attempting to answer the question of whether or not Goodman Brown is asleep or awake.)
  • Be candid in your writing.
  • Try to understand and explain why you have reacted the way you did.
  • Refer to the text in your paper – that is, use quotes from the story to support your points.


Your essay should conform to the MLA standards for format and citations; scroll down for a reminder (which you may also find in D2L Files:  Level 03 – Documentation).  You may also find excellent examples at Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab: 


Outside Sources?

No:  you are to build your argument exclusively on textual evidence of your own discovery and arrangement.


You’ll find in Ch. 29 a sample reaction essay (1128-1130); the work is O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” (assigned for this unit).


two full pages, double spaced; this means all the way down to the bottom of the second page


in the drop box by 11:59 PM Sunday 06 September.  Please be sure to save your file with this name

Lastname Essay 01

Misnamed files will not be accepted.

Questions, Comments, Confusion?

Talk to me.

(page follows)


  • Use one-inch margins all around and double-space your text (you never single space in the MLA format).  If you haven’t reset the default settings in Word, you’ll need to:  the right and left margins are preset to 1.25 inches, an unacceptable width.
  • Papers should be in either a 10- or 12-point font size and in a standard font (standard fonts include Time New Roman – in which this handout is done—Courier, and Arial).  If you haven’t reset the default settings in word, you’ll need to:  the default setting for text is Calibri 11-point, an unacceptable font.
  • Every page needs a header:  In the upper right-hand corner of the every page (including the first and the list of works cited) and half and inch from the top of the paper, place your last name only, a space, and page number.  The header should be in the same font and size as the rest of your essay; I you haven’t reset the default settings for Word, you’ll need to:  the default setting for headers is Cambria 11-point, an unacceptable font.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of your first page, place your name, the professor’s name, course name, and date the paper is due.
  • Center your title, which should follow the standard rules of capitalization:  in other words, your title should not appear in all caps, or in bold, or italics, or underlining, or quotations marks, or in anything but the same standard font in which you’re doing the rest of your paper.  Moreover, your title should give your reader some idea of your subject and your thesis statement (i.e., Essay 01 is not an acceptable title)
  • Be sure to mention in your first paragraph (which should likewise contain your thesis) the full names of the author(s) and the complete title of the work(s) that you’re examining.  Afterwards refer to the author(s) by last name only.
  • As a rule, all your verbs should be in present tense (“literary present”) – e.g. “The author states in this work,” not “The author stated in this work” – even though you’re referring to a historical text.
  • To avoid floating quotes, make sure that your citation fits smoothly into a sentence.  Reference the citation in parenthesis, using author’s last name only and page number with no comma in between, e.g. (Author 457).  Punctuation comes after the parentheses.
  • Avoid citations of more than four typed lines; in shorter papers of the kind you’re writing, they look like filler.  Keep the length of your citations to four or fewer typed lines.
  • You’ll need a list of works cited on a separate page at the end of your essay.  Works Cited (or Work, if you’ve examined only one) will need to appear centered one inch from the top of  the page.  This is the basic format:

Last name, First name. “Title of Story.” Title of Textbook, edition, edited by Editors’ Name(s), Publisher, Year, Page range of entry.

Here’s an example

Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, 4th edition,

                edited by Tobias Wolff, Vintage, 1994, pp. 306-07.

Note that the titles of shorts stories go in quotation marks.  When you reach the end of the first line in an entry, tab in for the second and all subsequent lines.  Please note that the list of works cited is neither single spaced nor the entries numbered.

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