How does one define evil? It is universally thought of as bad, negative, harmful, vicious, corrupt and wicked. In all of humanity there stands an image or figurative concept of evil, differing from each culture of the globe. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1836—enunciated a theory of symbol in his first book Nature, that retained validity through much of the century (Dunne 107). A fundamental doctrine of many mid nineteenth century American writers was a belief in the symbolic authority of nature (Dunne 107). Nathaniel Hawthorne has intended to emphasize that no single person can endure the escape from the devil’s nature in his short story “Young Goodman Brown”. Using an abundant amount of symbolism, Hawthorne illustrates how the follies of mankind are established. An ingenious magnitude of allegory expands the meaning of the tale. An unspoken transformation takes place in the protagonist, Young Goodman Brown that produces an intellectual realization whispered with definite evil props and characters. It has been thought that the story, “Young Goodman Brown” corresponds as a direct echo of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s own life. That in itself indicates a symbolic presumption. Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts and a descendant of Puritan immigrants (Mays 340). The Puritans were an exceedingly religious society who believed witchcraft to be an abomination.
It seems difficult to imagine that Hawthorne did not intend to inspire his readers on a meaningful level. Herman Melville, the notable, American author of Moby Dick recounted, “I feel that this Hawthorne has dropped germinating seeds into my soul. He expands and deepens down, the more I contemplate him, and further and further, shoots his str...
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...redmore 253). This resulted in Brown living a distrustful, suspicious, and reclusive life. He died in an hour of “gloom” and “no hopeful verse upon his tombstone” (Hawthorne).
Hawthorne emphasizes that no one can escape wickedness, corruption, or any other definition of evil that may be acknowledged in each culture. Without that escape, a person will endure a damaging transformation, as Young Goodman Brown did. This short story cannot be limited to the evils and temptations only a Puritan person faces. Corruption is not prejudice and all will have to face malevolent forces at one point in the journey of life. The saddest part of this story is that Hawthorne failed to recognize the need for both evil and good. If he could have only not allowed the crookedness of man to harden his heart, he would have come out stronger. “It’s always darkest before the dawn…” (Machine).
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