Innocence Lost Through Puritanism in Young Goodman Brown

Innocence Lost Through Puritanism in Young Goodman Brown

Length: 906 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Innocence lost through Puritanism?

To truly comprehend the themes in "Young Goodman Brown" you must first understand the influences on Nathaniel Hawthorne's writing. According to the website Hawthorneinsalem.org, Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, son of also a Nathaniel Hawthorne, was actually a descendant of John Hathorne, one of the judges who oversaw the Salem Witch Trials. Because of Hawthorne's Puritan upbringing, much of writings are moral allegories set in colonial New England. Hawthorne returns again to Salem in "Young Goodman Brown" and deals with the theme of the loss of innocence. This theme works to argue the benefits and consequences of Goodman Brown's beliefs before and after his encounter with the devil as well as the beliefs of the Puritans as a whole.
A central theme of the loss of innocence can be found throughout the entire story.
Even the first two characters introduced both seem as innocent as could be. Take the name Young Goodman Brown for example; innocence is associated with the word "young" as well as the word "good." Hawthorne uses these words to give Brown a naïve persona much like most young Puritans of his time. His newly wed wife, Faith, symbolizes the faith he clings to in his life. Hawthorne must have also used her name as a symbol for not only Brown but for all Puritans. Puritans cling to faith blindly hoping they are the chosen ones entitled an entrance to heaven. The color pink, of the ribbon she wears, is a color associated with childhood innocence and purity. Young, innocent, and pure are all things Brown considers his wife to be at the beginning of the story. After we are introduced to the first characters Brown sets off into the forest where he will eventually learn the truth of things and in doing so lose his innocence. Once on his journey into the forest Hawthorne writes, "He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind" (148). Brown is venturing into the unknown; the path closing behind him is symbolic of there being no turning back once he has lost his innocence. Once on his way with the devil, Brown learns of his father's and grandfather's affiliations with him. Once honest people in Brown's eyes, these men now become symbols of how surrounded by evil he actually is.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Innocence Lost Through Puritanism in Young Goodman Brown." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Apr 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=161663>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Innocence Lost by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Innocence Lost by Nathaniel Hawthorne My Kinsman, Major Molineux and Young Goodman Brown present Nathaniel Hawthorne’s belief in the universality of sin. These works provide numerous perspectives into the nature of the human condition and the individual’s role within it. Hawthorne fictionalizes a world where communion with man is essential for spiritual satisfaction. The main characters of these stories face moral dilemmas through their pursuit of human communion. Whether the problems are moral, psychological, or both, Hawthorne insists that the individual must come to affirm a tie with the procession of life, must come to achieve some sense of brotherhood of man....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne Innocence Lost Essays]

Research Papers
1918 words (5.5 pages)

Free YGB Essay - Innocence vs Reality in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

- The story Young Goodman Brown presents two themes; loss of innocence and coping with reality. Loss of Innocence is a major theme of the story and is easily seen. A loss of innocence is when those that do not know something horrible or do not believe in its existence come to an understanding of that horrible thing that forever changes them. The innocents in the story are Goodman Brown and his wife, Faith. Faith, we see is capable of attaining heaven(577), a good place where evil is unknown. Brown is also an innocent as shown by when the devil reveals to him a series of horribles as the two walk through the woods-namely that his grandfather, his mentor, and the preacher have all communed with...   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Free Essays
494 words (1.4 pages)

Essay on The Condition of Youth in Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience

- The Condition of Youth in Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience are collections of poems that utilize the imagery, instruction, and lives of children to make a larger social commentary. The use of child-centered themes in the two books allowed Blake to make a crucial commentary on his political and moral surroundings with deceptively simplistic and readable poetry. Utilizing these themes Blake criticized the church, attacking the hypocritical clergy and pointing out the ironies and cruelties found within the doctrines of organized religion....   [tags: Blake Songs Innocence Experience Essays]

Research Papers
2685 words (7.7 pages)

Summary Of ' Young Goodman Brown ' Essay

- Intro: “We have been a race of honest men and good Christians…”(Hawthorne, pg. 388). In Salem, Massachusetts evil was found everywhere; therefore, many good Puritans fell through the evil of witchcraft. This concept is found in the short story of “Young Goodman Brown”, where the readers are introduced to a innocent and pure couple who are all about religion and against any evil worshippers. Faith and Goodman Brown will face a diabolic journey to hell, and fight against the will of evil which is nearly impossible for everyone in town has walked through sin.I am writing about Young Goodman Brown because I am trying to show you how Hawthorne relies on Faith, the old man, and young Goodman Brown...   [tags: Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Research Papers
829 words (2.4 pages)

Madonna Kolbenschlag's Lost in the Land of Oz Essay

- Madonna Kolbenschlag's Lost in the Land of Oz "In "Lost in the Land of Oz", Madonna Kolbenschlag explores the way old societal myths, which are created from the metaphors in our life, are no longer useful in today's society. The author believes we need to embrace the ego archetype of the orphan, the most influential metaphor for the self, in order to become a whole and complete person. Madonna Kolbenschlag discusses how our society is particularly hostile towards women, resulting in an acute feeling of self-loathing, doubt, loneliness, and guilt....   [tags: Madonna Kolbenschlag Lost Land Oz Essays]

Research Papers
1743 words (5 pages)

Innocence...Forever Lost Essay

- A beautiful flower with delicate petals sits in a lush green jungle. As a violent storm with fierce winds surfaces on the horizon, the flower yields with each gust. Unable to withstand the torrential downpour and harsh winds, it loses its petals and snaps from the intense pressure. This exact thing happens to Mary Anne as “The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong” unfolds. Even though people have the capacity to endure great tragedy, suffering and violence, the sheer brutality of war permanently strips the innocence from Mary Anne and the devastation becomes engrained to her soul....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Research Papers
1058 words (3 pages)

Criticism of Organized Religion in Little Boy Lost and Little Boy Found

- Criticism of Organized Religion in Little Boy Lost and Little Boy Found Organized religion and its adversity to the natural world is a topic that William Blake addresses quite frequently in his writings. In "Little Boy Lost," from Songs of Innocence, Blake presents a young child, representing the fledgling mind, getting lost in the dark forest of the material world. The illustration at the top of the page shows the little boy being led by a light or spirit of some kind, the "vapour" that Blake later speaks of....   [tags: Little Boy Lost Essays]

Research Papers
794 words (2.3 pages)

Losing Faith in Young Goodman Brown Essay

- Losing Faith in Young Goodman Brown In “Young Goodman Brown,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Goodman Brown is tempted by the evil that surrounds him and he must keep his faith in order to resist it. The use of the events, characters, and symbols throughout the story show that evil is present in the people of the town in which Goodman Brown lives and how Goodman Brown’s faith in them is lost. Humanity is basically flawed and people struggle with making the choice between good and evil. Throughout the story, Goodman Brown is worried about the idea of the townspeople finding out about his meeting with the devil....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Research Papers
774 words (2.2 pages)

Good and Evil in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

- Good and Evil in Young Goodman Brown In "Young Goodman Brown." Nathaniel Hawthorne considers the question of good and evil, suggesting that true evil is judging and condemning others for sin without looking at one's own sinfulness. He examines the idea that sin is part of being human and there is no escape from it. Of the many symbols he uses in this story, each has a profound meaning. They represent good and evil in the constant struggle of a young innocent man whose faith is being tested. As the story begins, Young Goodman Brown bids farewell to his young wife "Faith, as [she] was aptly named" (211)....   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Research Papers
790 words (2.3 pages)

Symbolism and Allegory in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essays

- Symbolism and Allegory in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Symbolism, something that figuratively represents something else, is prominent in many literary works. One piece of literature that stands out as a perfect example of symbolism is Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown." This story is completely symbolic, and provides a good example of an allegory, or a story in which concrete items or characters represent abstract ideas. Hawthorne uses both objects and people as symbols to better support the allegorical tones throughout "Young Goodman Brown." Nathaniel Hawthorne uses different people as symbols throughout "Young Goodman Brown." The largest symbolic roles in the story are goodm...   [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]

Free Essays
718 words (2.1 pages)

Related Searches

He is astonished by the fact that Goody Cloyse is associated with the devil as well, and says, "That old woman taught me my catechism." Hawthorne writes, "And there was a world of meaning in this simple comment" (151). Brown must have been experiencing much doubt because of the fact that someone who taught him all he knew about religion was actually a pawn of the devil. Self-doubt is another issue brought on by the Puritan education system which Goody Cloyse was a part of. Brown later learns that his deacon and minister are also in route to a witch meeting. Having all this brought to light bewilders Brown and makes him further question himself. Brown gives up his faith once he sees his wife's pink ribbon fall from the sky and journeys on to take part in the witch meeting. Once all is said and done Brown returns to town a bitter fearful man to live out the rest of his life that way.
The outcome of this story as well as Goodman Brown's suspicion can be blamed on his religion. The Puritan religion is one of strict moral code and overemphasizing sin. Hawthorne uses the rigidity and self-doubting Puritan religion to show the consequences of such a thought system. The works of John Calvin were especially central to Puritan beliefs. Calvinism held that human beings were innately sinful and corrupted by inheriting the original sin of Adam and Eve. Although seemingly doomed to a life of sin, Puritans believed that they were predestined to have a place in heaven. The character Brown represents a normal person in Puritan times and how hard it must have been to believe this. This way of life helps Brown foster much suspicion and distrust among the other townspeople. The story starts out with Brown leaving his wife Faith to venture into the forest in the dark of the night. If in fact a dream, you can get an idea of how much doubt and suspicion Puritanism brings about in the complexity of Brown's dream. Such a vivid dream must have had much prior thought. Paragraph eight gives us a description of what Brown conceptualizes as a godless life in the description of the forest. It is dark, tangled, and poorly visible. This symbolizes the loneliness and confusion Brown must have been going through before he had this dream. Later on the same page Brown meets what is to be considered the devil in this story in the same forest. He states in a kind of ironic way, "Faith kept me back a while" (148). This further emphasizes the suspicion fostered by his Puritan beliefs.
It is easy to se that only the Puritan doctrine can be blamed for cultivating so much suspicion as to mistrust other townspeople, teachers, and even your own mind. Hawthorne must have been writing this story to show that faith cannot exist in an atmosphere where there is so much distrust and what it can do to a person.
Return to 123HelpMe.com