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Negative Consequences of Learning the Truth, in Hawthorn’s Young Goodman Brown and Chopin’s Desiree’s Baby

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Whoever said the truth will set you free must not have read the works of Nathaniel Hawthorn and Kate Chopin. It is in Hawthorn’s story “Young Goodman Brown” and Chopin’s “Desiree’s Baby” that learning the truth is not liberating but leads to isolation and bitterness because the truth is too much to comprehend. In “Young Goodman Brown” Brown’s experience of the satanic group in the woods causes him to discover part of his community’s identity with evil and this causes his withdrawal of himself from the community because of his lack of trust. “Desiree’s Baby” problem deals with Armand’s unwillingness to accept the fact that his mother was African American, which leads him to resentful acts and his inability to accept responsibility for his actions.
During Brown’s venture through the woods he first discovers the truth behind those and others whom he knows personally and from a distance. “Young Goodman Brown caught hold of a tree for support, being ready to sink down on the ground, faint and overburdened with the heavy sickness of his heart. He looked up to the sky, doubting whether there really was a heaven above him,” (530). This particular quote is an example of Brown’s initial shock after learning of the ties these seemingly good Christian people had with evil. It is with this realization that Brown begins to doubt all he has been taught to accept as true. This also begins Brown’s struggle to accept such discoveries and to catalyze not only his faith in mankind but also his spiritual faith.
Brown is brought forth during this communion to become a convert and he “stepped forth from the shadow of the trees and approached the congregation, with whom he felt a loathful brotherhood by the sympathy of all that was wicked in his hear...


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... home and his name,” (249). However, the only injury Desiree brought upon Armand is the reminder of what he refuses to come to terms with.
While the truth is usually intended to allow one to reach peace of mind and acceptance it is not always the case. Brown learns the true identity of members in his community who seem to be good Christian people but are truly part of this satanic group. Brown’s learning of the truth leads him to distrust those around him and lose his faith. While Armand knows what is true he is unwilling to accept the truth leading to the destruction of the lives of his wife and child so he can maintain his lifestyle. The situations that Goodman Brown and Armand face show that the fear and trauma that is experienced in learning the truth can lead to negative consequences and not be able to accept the truth for what it undoubtedly exists to be.



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