The Bane of Humanity: Analyzing "Young Goodman Brown" Essay

The Bane of Humanity: Analyzing "Young Goodman Brown" Essay

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The fight between good and evil is present inside every person. For example, forgiveness and revenge are on opposite ends of the spectrum, yet people may be more inclined to seek revenge instead of choosing to forgive. Thus, humanity is in a constant struggle to fight against an evil inclination. Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays this human dilemma in his short story “Young Goodman Brown”, which is about a man leaving his loving wife to travel into the forest for the night. He believes no harm will come of his actions and promises a fulfilling life with his wife after his encounter. Instead, Brown’s errand within the forest changes his aspect on the whole of humanity and uproots his beliefs in God. Hawthorne uses his characters’ names, Faith’s actions, and the townspeople as a whole to demonstrate how humanity’s nature has an inclination towards hypocrisy and evil.
First of all, hypocrisy is one of the main themes in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”, especially when the characters’ names are examined. Each name holds a double meaning. Take a look at the name “Goodman Brown”. While the name “Goodman” implies someone who does good deeds or has a pure heart, his surname “Brown” implies he is impure, as dirt is full of impurities. For instance, when Goodman Brown is first mentioned, he seems truly determined to take care of his loving wife, Faith. Brown explains to his wife that an important meeting must take place tonight, but he promises Faith that he will return and “cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven” (Hawthorne 380). He intends to live a Christian life like his name “Goodman” implies, but he initially has to satisfy his evil curiosity. As Goodman Brown travels through the forest, his purpose, though vague, is unveiled to b...


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... first uses many examples of hypocrisy to show humanity’s true nature. He also demonstrates that even seemingly pure and good-hearted people have dark thoughts or moments where the inclination of evil shows itself. The hypocrisy of the characters’ names represents hypocrisy in their own lives and the secrets that arise when the sun sets. Throughout the story, the reader, like Goodman Brown, discovers the true nature of humanity; however, he cannot cope with knowing everyone in his town is not who they appear. Hawthorne reveals humanity’s inclination towards hypocrisy through his short story and expresses the idea that every person has evil inside of them, even if they are only evil thoughts.



Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 10th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. 380-88. Print

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