Comparing The Hypocrisy Of Young Goodman Brown And The Scarlet Letter By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Several of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story settings are during the time of the Puritans in the early settlement of America. In a couple of Hawthorne’s stories, his characters commit a sin so grave that, in the views of the Puritans, they are isolated from the community. This study will analyze one of Hawthorne’s short stories, “Young Goodman Brown” as well as his novel The Scarlet Letter to show the hypocrisy of the Puritan’s treatment of sin. In these stories, the Puritans treat sin with such severity that at times the treatment itself is worse than the actual sin; this shows how highly the Puritans viewed the necessity of punishment of sin. However, when it came to seeing the faults in people of high order in their community, they often ignored the issue or argued that their sin was for the good of the community; thus, revealing their hypocritical society. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Brown ventures off to the forest, a place the Puritans often associate with evil, to have a meeting with the devil. During the beginning of his journey with the devil, Brown keeps saying that he has gone too far into the forest and must return to his wife, Faith. Brown claims that his “father never went into the woods on such errand, nor his [grandfather]” and that they…show more content…
Yet, most readers are able to distinguish the hypocrisy in the Puritan’s society. Some have even argued that Hawthorne’s stories were a way of him “commenting on the hypocrisy of the Puritan society in the treatment and handling of sinners” (Sterling). They “hated and feared anything private”; thus, they treated sinners as a lesson to show everyone what happens when they sin (Baym). However, when it came to seeing the sins of their beloved leaders, they would turn a blind eye. Therefore, showing that the Puritans were biased and not fulfilling their roles as respectable Christians with which John Winthrop described in “A Model of Christian

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