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"Young Goodman Brown" Analysis

  • Submitted by: scurto1
  • on March 26, 2014
  • Category: English
  • Length: 1,044 words

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's “Young Goodman Brown”

The story of Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an allegory focused on the concept of the inherent evil nature of mankind and the the loss of a person's faith. The character of Goodman Brown represents mankind confronted with temptation, as is illustrated when Brown enters the forest of sin and tries to leave several times but is constantly held back by the devil. Brown encounters his own evil among the evil of others. Throughout the story, it becomes more apparent that the focus is not on Goodman Brown, but on society as a whole. Brown discovers that the whole town is going to the witch meeting, a final indication that everybody is dealing with evil. Hawthorne suggests that all of us have a dark side; in that sense we are all in league with the devil and we have not fully conquered the evil within ourselves.   The Puritan faith taught its followers that the Bible was God's “true law” and was a guide to one's way of life. They attempted to purify the church and their own lives by redefining the traditional values of Christianity.   The Puritan belief system had strict guidelines to live a holy life constructed to please God, and unlike the Christian belief that sins are cleansed and forgiven regardless of the nature of the sin, Puritans enforced control over their actions to reduce temptation. They emphasized conversion from the “worldliness” of society and repression was evident in their doctrine, as actions were constantly controlled. In this time period the supernatural was a part of everyday life and people believed that Satan was actively present on earth. The Puritans believed in spirits and witches and this belief plays a role in the story, especially when Goodman Brown describes of the spirits haunting the woods:
The traveler knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that, with lonely footsteps, he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude...

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