For those who have not studied the Puritans or their beliefs, Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is not much more than a story of lost (or maybe just confused) faith. Hawthone, a man of puritan descent, had some oppositions to the ideals that Puritans followed. Some of these ideals are discussed in his "Young Goodman Brown".
The basic impression that most people have of Puritans "describes them as dour, irascible, self-righteous, hypocritical people who hated sex, joy, and life. They dressed in black, they hated nature, they burned witches, and they repressed all natural desires,". This is the view that influences most people when Puritans appear in literature. We see the stereotypical hatred of the forest (the Devil's playground), the fear of Indians (the Devil's spawn) and the extreme fear of the Devil himself run rampant in "Young Goodman Brown". Hawthorne's description of the forest is very disheartening. "He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest..." (p 375) This is a rather depressing and f...
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... not be so blindly relied upon. However, after a bit more delving, that the story speaks not only of faith and it's hazards, but of the flaws in the puritan system.
1.) Roberts, Trish. Background to the American Puritans. http://www.missouri.edu/~engpat/purs.html. (accessed 2-1-02)
2.) Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown". printed in: A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature: Fourth Edition. Editors Wilfred L. Guerin, Earle Labor, Lee Morgan, Jeanne C. Reesman, John R. Willingham. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1999.
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