Loss of Faith in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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Loss of Faith in Young Goodman Brown

In the Bible, God commands Moses to go up Mount Sinai to receive divine instruction. When he comes back, his people, the Israelites, have gone crazy. They have forgotten Moses, and forgotten their God. They form their own god, a golden calf, and build an altar. They even had a festival for the golden calf. "Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and sat down to indulge in revelry" (Exodus 32:6). Moses then went down the mountain and got so angry that he smashed the tablets with the Ten Commandments on them. The Israelites lost faith because they could not see the God they were worshipping, so they forgot him and began worshipping a false idol. The Israelites are not very different from modern man. In his short story, "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne shows why man loses faith. Man loses faith because of pride, weakness, and erroneous values.

Pride causes man to lose faith. Often man tries to handle situations on his own. He seeks to contend with evil by himself. In "Young Goodman Brown," the title character becomes crazy and confronts evil, "Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powwow, come devil himself! And here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you!" (Hawthorne 324). Goodman Brown feels that he will be the demise of sin. He assumes that he is strong enough to conquer it all single-handedly. Pride also prevents man from realizing his own imperfections. When wandering in the wilderness, Young Goodman Brown says, "A marvel, truly, that Goody Cloyse should be so far in the wilderness at nightfall" (Hawthorne 320). The wilderness symbolizes any sinful place. Young Goodman Brown fails to realize that the only reason...

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...ke Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who cast off the beliefs of post World War I America. Many of these thinkers moved to Paris and try to make find meaning in their meaningless lives. They would throw wild parties, "drink excessively, and have scandalous love affairs (Kaiser)." They gained prominent places in the twentieth century because of their spiritual alienation. Loss of faith may cause fame and fortune, as it did for the lost generation, but with this loss came inescapable emptiness.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. Ed. Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson. Harcourt College Publishers: Fort Worth, 2002. 316-328.

Kaiser, Nancy. "The Lost Generation." University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 29 October 2001. < http://ils.unc.edu/~kaisn/pathfind.html>

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