Hawthorne and Young Goodman Brown

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It has always appeared to be fact that sin was an easy word to define and that merely doing anything that goes against God and his teachings is a sin. In order to avoid sin, one must possess an infinite amount of faith and be able to follow the teachings of a master that one can’t always see, but needs to understand is always there. In literature, many works have been created dealing with faith and sin, but most are usually not written from a perspective in which a sinning man does not seek redemption. Most stories are not allegories dealing with a man leaving his wife – named Faith – so that he can go off into the woods and, literally, dance with the devil. Most stories, however, are not Young Goodman Brown and most are not written by Nathaniel Hawthorne as a response to the guilt he felt over being the descendant of people involved in the Salem Witch trials. An immensely important part of this allegory is the character of Faith, Young Goodman’s wife, who represents just what her name says, and how her character affects the entire story. Her existence alone allows for the crisis Young Goodman Brown feels and even later further enhances that same crisis. She is both the cause and solution to all of Brown’s problems, if only he would allow himself to accept his faith rather than enter into the kingdom of the devil. Faith is a highly subjective thing that all people who wish to have religion in their lives must have and embrace. Now, Hawthorne wrote Young Goodman Brown as a commentary on a seriously religious society that went as far as to drown women who were preported to be witches. As Brown tells his wife that he is going away for a while, she – in her pink bows and her young face, implores him not to go. Brown knows that he’s about to embark on a journey where having faith is important and necessary. Even he acknowledges such a fact when he states “what a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand.” (Hawthorne 614). Brown is fully aware that on the journey he’s about to embark on, he needs his faith. However, he’s also aware that if he brings his faith along then the meeting with the devil will go differently than planned and will end with him maybe not accepting the devil’s pleas.
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