Young Goodman Brown Analysis

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Nathaniel Hawthorne was an extraordinary writer who sought to describe the Puritan values he felt was lost. Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Young Goodman Brown" is shown as an allegory of the threat essential in forsaking one's Christian conviction, even for one night. As one would assume, the story is infatuated with characters going through the endless trial of sin and guilt. There is a lack of subtlety in this theme, as the main character, Goodman Brown, hopes to accomplish something revolutionary in his travels. Hawthorne uses the theme of sin and guilt, the theme of the psychology of sin, and a nightly quest in order to display the controversies that overwhelmed Goodman Brown.
In many of Hawthorne’s stories, there are several instances where his main characters distinguish a sense of sin and guilt for what they have done throughout the story. In Robert P. Ellis’ article, “Nathaniel Hawthorne”, published in MagillLiterature Plus, Ellis states that “Often, Hawthorne’s characters cannot throw off the burden of a vague and irrational but weighty burden of guilt” (Ellis 4). Ellis regards characters in other Hawthorne stories as “examples of such guilt-ridden and essentially faithless men” (Ellis 5). Early in “Young Goodman Brown”, Brown leaves his wife, Faith, to take a night into the woods. When venturing through the woods, he stumbles upon a character that is portrayed to be the devil. During their meeting, the devil nonchalantly tells Brown that the people around him are not what they seem. The devil says that many men and women close to him are not the purely righteous people that they claim to be. Brown refuses to believe what he has just been told, in fact, he goes so far to loudly proclaim that “With heaven above and Faith below...

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...n a man is tremendous. Brown feels so overwhelmed by learning of the sins that alleged pious leaders commit, that he forgets his own sins. Lastly, Hawthorne’s description of Browns quest, epitomizes the amount of change one goes through when discovering the truth. It is seen that while at first he is able to withstand the temptations of the devil, the realization that others around him have fallen victim to the devil’s plots, just sends Brown over the edge. He comes out of his quest a more educated man, with a completely different mindset. He finds that all people are hypocrites of who they say they want to be, and cannot be trusted in anything they say. It gives a more Calvinist view that all people deserve hell, and cannot do anything to escape it. However, if Brown had not gone on his journey, how long would it have taken to escape his previously clouded mindset?

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