Good and Evil in Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

Good and Evil in Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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In the short story “Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne sets the locale of the story during the Salem witch trials at his convenience to include the Calvinist theme of sin, that belief in which formed the early history of New England’s social and spiritual identity. As a dark romantic, Hawthorne includes the elements of human nature, mysticism, good and evil, and one’s own spirituality to convey his message to the reader. However, it is left to the reader’s own digression to interpret his ambiguous conclusions. At the beginning of the short story, Brown finds himself on a journey to the enchanted forest outside of his village for a mysterious appointment. Unknowingly, Brown is traveling into the heart of darkness in which he will be tempted to surrender his faith for innate depravity. It is then where one can identify with Brown through the events, actions, and dialogue that Hawthorne used to place emphasis on the Calvinist sense of sin, idea of moral imagination, and the symbolism used as well.
“Young Goodman Brown” has been considered an excellent short story that has been widely criticized by many critics. However, most critics disagree that Brown lost his faith. Perhaps, their reasoning is based on the statement, “My Faith is gone!” professed by Brown when he discovers his wife’s voice and pink ribbon in the dark forest. According to Thomas E. Connolly, “not only did he retain his faith, but during his horrible experience he actually discovered the full and frightening significance of his faith.” At the beginning of the story, Brown was seen as a devout Calvinist in which he truly believed he was one of the elect. The errand on which he is going is understood as a prearrangement with the devil. Because of his belief, it...


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...the Deacon in opposition as he overhears him praying; he intervenes Goody Cloyse’s religious teaching of catechism to a child, and he behaves differently around his wife Faith. Brown has been changed completely and he isn’t the same person who walked into the forest the day before at dusk. As Reginald Cook asserted, “the fearful dream has done its work.” Brown experienced a terrible thing by traveling into his subconscious mind while in the dark forest and as a result he has become a skeptical and miserable man.



Works Cited

Connolly, Thomas E. "Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown": An Attack On Puritanic
Calvinism." American Literature 28.3 (1956): 370. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.

Cook, Reginald. "The Forest of Goodman Brown's Night: A Reading of Hawthorne's "Young
Goodman Brown"" JSTOR. The New England Quarterly, Sept. 1970. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.

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