Young Goodman Brown: The Evils of Puritanism

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Puritanism dominated 17th century history and literature. Nathaniel Hawthorne born in 1804 was an American writer who sought to resolve his conflicts with Puritanism through his writing. Hawthorne wrote several stories showing the world the horrors of the Puritan faith and the isolation of individuals who failed to uphold the faith. For Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown illustrates the difference between Puritan teaching and practicing and reflects his own guilt about the mistreatment of men at the hands of his forefathers. Young Goodman Brown protagonist struggles with Puritanism is a reflection of Hawthorne personal conflicts with Puritanism. Hawthorne uses the story of Young Goodman Brown to illustrate Puritanism's disconnection between their espoused beliefs and the application of their beliefs in their everyday life. In addition, Hawthorne uses events in his life in the story to help the reader understand the horrors visited on individuals deemed as sinners by the community. Goodman Brown's father and grandfather mirror the events of Hawthorne's forefathers. By using his personal experiences, Hawthorne allows the reader to glimpse his own guilt and guilt over his forefathers' actions through Goodman Brown. From the beginning, Hawthorne lets the reader know the importance of this family connection as he states: "the second traveler was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance perhaps more in expression than feature. Still, they might have been take for father and son" (Hawthorne 387). Ronan compares the "biographical details [in] the narrative about Brown’s family indicate that he is a Hawthorne... Hawthorne’s great-great-great grandfather, Major Will... ... middle of paper ... ...an Brown." The Norton Anthology American Literature 8th Ed. Vol. B. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2012. 386-395. Print. Jamil, S. Selina. "Carnivalesque Freedom In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown." Explicator 65.3 (2007): 143. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. Milder, Robert. "Hawthorne and the Problem of New England." American Literary History 21.3 (2009): 464-491. Project MUSE. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. Mills, Barriss. "Hawthorne and Puritanism." The New England Quarterly 21.1 (1948): 78-102. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. Neary, John. "Shadows And Illuminations: Spiritual Journeys To The Dark Side In "Young Goodman Brown" And Eyes Wide Shut." Religion & The Arts 10.2 (2006): 244-270. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. Ronan, John. "Young Goodman Brown" And The Mathers." New England Quarterly 85.2 (2012): 253-280. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
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