Young Goodman Brown: Evil is the Nature of Mankind
" 'Lo! there ye stand, my children,' said the figure, in a deep and solemn tone, almost sad, with its despairing awfulness, as if his once angelic nature could yet mourn for our miserable race. 'Depending upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped, that virtue were not all a dream. Now are undeceived! Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome, again, my children, to the communion of your race!' " This particular quote has the mark of cynicism that although may not be common in our time for writing, was probably a very common writing style during certain times in the history of American Literature. This of course would depend on the dominating religious culture of the time. Since Nathaniel Hawthorne's writings were created briefly after the times of the Salem Witch Trials, since one of his ancestors was a judge at the trials, it would be apparent to most that the religious overtones were ones of the righteousness and damnation (Norton Anthology, p. 547). Their inherant belief, which was very much portrayed in the story, was in predestination. This meant that they believed that all the chosen ones were selected before birth by God, and no matter what their actions were, they were saved. Everyone else apparently went to hell. They believed that one could tell who a chosen one was by their deeds and action of goodness and kindness. However, one should still try to be as good as they possibly could even if they weren't one of the chosen because God might have mercy on them and save them anyway for being so good. So the concensus during this particular time was that those that were righteous were chosen and that everyone in ...
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...d refers to a group of people sharing something in common, but given the context of the story, we can't ignore the biblical connotations of communion. Therefore we are justified in pointing out these various definitions of communion.
Obviously Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates his skill at combining many meanings and implications about the pervasive evil nature of man in the story Young Goodman Brown. This statement can be argued by observing both his literal and symbolic meanings. "Evil is the nature of mankind." This is the epitome of the story from Satan's taking the persona of a religious leader to the people viewing him as one. The story can be read at many different levels from the shallow reader to the very indepth reader. However, behind every level is the underlying theme that evil is the nature of mankind.
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