Rigidity of Puritanism Exposed in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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Rigidity of Puritanism Exposed in Young Goodman Brown

Proverbs 10:28 implies the idea of the universality of sin in

saying "The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked

come to nothing." In "Young Goodman Brown", Nathaniel Hawthorne

illustrates this through Brown's actions. When Brown lives a righteous

life with good faith, his thoughts remain pure and happy. He has a

wonderful wife, and he enjoys the presence of everyone. As he takes his

walk into the forest and into evil ways, his hopes and faith disappear. He

no longer loves his wife in the same way, and he despises everyone whom

people consider were holy. When he loses his faith, he loses his happiness.

To regain his happiness, Brown must find his righteousness again.

Puritans believe there is no hope for a sinner. Hawthorne uses a variety

of writing techniques to condemn the rigidity of Puritanism.

For example, Hawthorne uses a wide variety of diction to create a

mystical and hopeless mood. As Brown walks into the "dreary" forest, an "

uncertain" feeling comes over him as he looks ahead to the "gloom" awaiting

him. The forest is very dark and dreary and these words help create the

eerie mood. These words create an insecure and unsure feeling in the

reader's mind. The reader feels as if he stands right there on the

outskirts of the forest along with Brown. That type of feeling scares even

the bravest of men. Hawthorne also describes the events taking place in

the forest as "devilish," "horrid," and "evil." Evil completely surrounds

Brown in the forest. It puts a thought in him which drives him crazy.

These words give a v...

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...ands before him with the guilt of sin.

He can never remember these people in the same way in which he wants to.

His views on the righteousness of humanity change from good to bad. Hence,

Brown loses his comradery with his neighbors, and he dies a lonely death

with no hopeful verse on his tombstone.

Works Cited

Benoit, Raymond. "'Young Goodman Brown': The Second Time Around." The Nathaniel Hawthorne Review 19 (Spring 1993): 18-21.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Complete Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc.,1959.

James, Henry. Hawthorne. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.

Martin, Terence. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Twayne Publishers Inc., 1965.

Wagenknecht, Edward. Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Man, His Tales and Romances. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1989.
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