The Discovery Of Evil And Fear Essay

The Discovery Of Evil And Fear Essay

Length: 1008 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

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The Discovery of Evil and Fear “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a short story that delves into the idea that humans have the capacity for great evil. The story is interesting in this aspect because the characters are Puritans; a very conservative religious group from the 16th and 17th centuries in Salem, Massachusetts. Puritans were a holy and somewhat legalistic people who strove to commit no sin and follow God in everything. The title character of Hawthorne’s tale is a Puritan man named Young Goodman Brown. For three months he has been married to his young wife Faith, and he wishes to journey into the woods for an unknown reason. Faith wishes him to say, but Goodman Brown feels he must go. Brown encounters many strange things in the woods, including an old man who reminds him of himself and may be the devil. The climax comes when Brown runs through the forest to find his entire town gathered for a wicked and evil ceremony. “Young Goodman Brown” has many examples of irony and symbolism, while also employing excellent use of tone and theme.
Goodman Brown is not as good as he seems to be. This seems like a simple idea, but it is the main irony of the story that humanity can look like one thing and in actuality be something completely different. The stranger resembles Goodman Brown as an older version of him and carries a black staff that is shaped like a serpent. Brown is hesitant about going into the woods on an evil errand because he is convinced his father and forefathers never did anything of the kind. The stranger interrupts Bro...

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...ights such as the one that haunted him, he would have been able to handle it better. Instead, he is left with broken memories and a new outlook on the world around him. It is as if his rose colored glasses have been lifted; only for him to realize that true sight is so much more painful.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was very clever at pointing out the inconsistencies and self-righteousness of the Puritans of his time. “Young Goodman Brown” points out the hypocrisy of the Puritan community not acknowledging specific sins and trying to live a perfect life. Hawthorne shows a cynical side to Puritanism that is not usually talked about. Goodman Brown found it very difficult to move on his life after his faith was lost. It is reasonable then, to try and understand Brown’s distrust and gloominess, because humanity always seems to be searching for answers to problems in life.

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