Does Young Goodman Brown Achieve Goodness

analytical Essay
1288 words
1288 words

Does Young Goodman Brown Achieve Goodness?

Nathaniel Hawthorne often emphasizes the ambiguous nature of sin, that good and evil do not exist in parallel with each other but at many times intersect with each other in his fiction. In "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne applies what he believes is the virtue of recognizing cosmic irony of taking into account the contradictions inherent in the human condition, to his portrayal of Young Goodman Brown.

According to Hawthorne's view, Browns failure to recognize the inherent sinfulness in himself as well as the rest of humanity, results, not in a rewarding life of reveling in righteousness, but in isolation and obscurity. Hawthorne juxtaposes the village of Salem, Massachusetts in …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how nathaniel hawthorne emphasizes the ambiguity of sin, that good and evil do not exist in parallel but intersect with each other in his fiction.
  • Analyzes how hawthorne juxtaposes the village of salem, massachusetts, with the mystical forest where evil and the supernatural reside to symbolize brown's misguided perception of the mutual exclusivity of good and evil.
  • Analyzes how hawthorne creates the blurred lines between sin and virtue for brown with the appearance of all of the respected community elders in the forest.
  • Analyzes how hilda's approach to the portrait of beatrice illustrates her internalization of the puritanical precepts of righteousness, the absolute nature of good and evil.
  • Explains that hawthorne, nathaniel, and julia reidhead, the norton anthology of american literature.
  • Analyzes how hilda's mutually exclusive view of sin makes her appear as an elevated angelic and inhuman presence that wields cold judgment upon the human beings below.

He becomes suspicious of all the members in his community who he deems as completely sinful. As a result of his clinging to the doctrinal viewpoint he becomes "a distrustful, if not desperate man" (75). Brown's only rewards from his rejection of sin are isolation from his community and family. Even at his death Brown is remembered only as a stern man: "they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom"(75). Hilda from _The Marble Faun_ also loses a sense of her own humanity by clinging too closely to the idea of the mutual exclusivity of virtue and sin. Hilda, in devoting herself to prescribed Puritanical values, forces herself to reject the friendship of her closest confidant, Miriam because she refuses to effectively deal with the ambiguity of sin in the guise of justified murder. Hilda's inability to deal with the ambiguity of sin is made evident in the chapter entitled "Beatrice" in which Hilda and Miriam comment upon the character of Hild'as copied portrait of Beatrice Cenci, a woman who murdered her own father. While Miriam's compassion causes her to remain unsure of Beatrice's sinfulness "it may have been because her nature was too feeble for the fate imposed upon her," Hilda characterizes Beatrice as a woman whose …show more content…

Hilda's cold detachment from the nature of human suffering as a result of sin almost makes her appear as an elevated angelic and inhuman presence that wields cold judgment upon the human beings below. Hilda's insistence to remain above the battle of the human being with the evil within all of human nature by living in her tower, to refuse to see the darkness below the "sunlight on the mountaintops," creates a distance between herself and the humanity around her, in a similar manner to Young Goodman Brown who isolates himself first from his community, then from his family, and finally, from his own humanity (462). Rather than acknowledging one's human nature, both Young Goodman Brown and Hilda internalize a highly Puritanical doctrine in which the lines between a life of goodness and a life of sinfulness are clearly drawn in parallel, and residing on the side of goodness means isolating oneself from the rest of humanity. As a result of their own self-exile, each of their fates lie in ignorance and

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