Throughout Young Goodman Brown and other works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the themes of sin and guilt constantly reoccur. Like many authors, Hawthorne used events in his life as a basis for the stories that he wrote. Hawthorne felt that ones guilt does not die with him/her but is rather passed down through the generations. Hawthorne's great-great uncle was one of the judges during the Salem witchcraft trials. Hawthorne felt a great sense of guilt because of this. Hawthorne used a great deal of symbolism to depict what would come to be known as the subconscious. In this allegory he used symbolism to speak of a dreamlike process. Hawthorne used the characters and the events of the story to create a double meaning. Symbolism and was used to show the effects of the events on the characters rather than lying in the events alone. He is not only there to explore his own sinful character but to also right the wrongs of his father, his grandfather, his church community, and his wife.
In the beginning of this story, one expects for the characters to follow the concepts that they represent. This story displays one man's journey to leave his home and comfort zone in order to fully explore his curiosity. He goes off into a forest and undergoes a life changing experience there. He encounters three different things that set him on the path to the journey of knowledge. This forest was symbolic of an assessment of strength, bravery, and survival. It took determination to survive in the forest and the young person entering into it would not emerge the same. Conversely, this story is more representative than realistic and the peril is of the character. This story is more of a vision or conscious daydream th...
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..., and his wife. He surfaces from his experience completely tainted. Goodman Brown was unable to take that experience and treat it with patience and tolerance and realize that everyone had the same curiosity that he had and needed to explore what else was in the world. Since he was able to do so, he gave up on all mankind saying that "Evil is in the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness." (Hawthorne, 634) Instead of learning that everyone is only human and should be indulged upon with consideration he took away from this situation that everyone is a sinner and roots from evil. The act of being enlightened is good and can be used for good unless one takes it upon himself/herself to interpret the meaning of the enlightenment and uses it for bad. Young Goodman Brown drew the conclusion that every man is bad and used his enlightening experience for bad.
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