Secret Sin and Seclusion

Powerful Essays
"Young Goodman Brown" and "The Minister's Black Veil" are two of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short stories that explore the prominence of Puritan beliefs in early American towns. Despite the religious influence, sin and depravity pervade even the most respected members of the communities. Both main characters struggle with an awareness of the human propensity to hide their sin, but while Young Goodman Brown focuses on the shortcomings of others, Father Hooper is concerned with building up the faith of his parishioners. Nevertheless, both men seem to cling to their faith in God, lead lives of isolation after their realizations, and eventually die.

Young Goodman Brown becomes conscious of the human tendency to sin during a dream or hallucination. In the beginning of his dream, Brown bids farewell to his wife, Faith, and traverses a narrow path into the depths of the forest (Hawthorne 1289). The fading of sunlight into nighttime and the dark wilderness suggest Brown is headed into evil. Paul Hurley writes that this is symbolic of his retreat into his own subconscious (413). From the start, Brown knows he is on an evil errand that will disappoint his wife, Faith. However, he rationalizes his actions by promising himself that later on he will "cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven" (Hawthorne 1289). This statement indicates a reliance on ritualistic, ceremonial religious practices rather his own salvation and purity (Hurley 416). During his dream, Brown also hears Goody Cloyse, deacon Gookin, the minister, and his wife. Eventually, he arrives at a communion of devil-worshippers, where he fancies he recognizes the entire town. After the call for converts to step forward, Brown joins others, becoming the "chief horror of ...

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...ks Cited

Cochran, Robert. "Hawthorne's Choice: The Veil or the Jaundiced Eye." College English. 23.5 (1962): 342-46. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. .

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Minister's Black Veil." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 7th ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2007. 1311-20. Print.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 7th ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2007. 1289-98. Print.

Hurley, Paul. "Young Goodman Brown's "Heart of Darkness"." American Literature. 37.4 (1966): 410-419. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. .

Voigt, Gilbert. "The Meaning of "The Minister's Black Veil."College English. 13.6 (1952): 337-38. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. .
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