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Perceptions of Young Goodman Brown
In "Young Goodman Brown", Nathaniel Hawthorne makes visible the perception we have of what is chaste and amoral by showing Goodman Brown that the people perceived as being the most holy are just as guilty of immoral thoughts. The naming of Goodman Brown is that it could be anyone that has to face these moral issues between good and evil. It is an everyday occurrence for us to want to test the waters of evil. The story is a reflection of existence, being that each has a path to take and decisions to make. Young Goodman Brown decides to venture forth into the realm of unknown by a yearning unknown to him. He meets up with a traveling companion who is an elderly reflection. He caries a staff of serpent life symbolizing evil. Along the path, Goodman Brown sees people he identifies with divine happenings. His conviction in humanity is shattered. He begins to converge his thoughts to heaven, for the strength to see through this masquerade of earthly surroundings.
Goodman Brown is curious as to what might lay ahead on the late journey. His wife pleads for his stay, only to be denied. She speaks of dreams to Goodman Brown, he reflects on this and denies any unnerving thoughts. Goodman Brown comforts himself by convincing himself that this one deed will be the last, he will then never leave Faith again. He is asking for forgiveness since he is about to cross the line of good and evil. If he can just take leave of his virtuous living for one night, he will forever be at Faith's side. His journey leads him along a dark avenue into the woods. His traveling companion awaits his arrival, and his tardiness is blamed on his Faith. Goodman Brown is quick to note that he still has Faith, but he will journey this one time. After time passes, Goodman Brown begins to realize his mistake for taking leave this late evening. His Faith is far from him now and he would like to adhere to her wishes. He fights to take leave of his companion, but his will is too weak. Unconsciously he continues forward. Brown questions the stranger and does not know of such evil existing in his family, but the stranger conveys to Goodman Brown the past experience he has had with his relatives.
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In the passage "Lo! There ye stand ... Welcome, again, my children, to the communion of your race!", it is the Devil telling Goodman Brown that this is the way it is so he is to just accept it and come forth for the union. It is a time for all to unite as for we are all the same inside. It is a way for evil to deceive mankind by deluding your thoughts. The stranger is showing Goodman Brown that there is no purity in man, evil is within you and therefore can not be overcome. We are given free will to choose between right and wrong, but we each define the terms. We choose to bid evil and evil will conquer as long as choices are available. The communion of your race is saying that we are all equal in our private ways, even though our fellow eyes see quite the opposite. We are imperfect molds of the divine creator left to the despair of evil. The passage is stating that we are not to fight our urges, but to go with the flow, so to say. Open your eyes to the corruptness that surrounds us and embrace it. The stranger or Devil, is stating that "Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness." , meaning it is within us all, so therefore we must welcome it.
As in the story, we each have a perception of holy and unholy. As Goodman Brown had seen men of ecclesiastic nature walking the same path as he, the blinders are soon lifted to notice we are not perfect. Each of us are faced with impure thoughts and foul words. The path through the night is the road we must face each day in life. The excitement of the little impurities is a drug that can overtake our lives. The stranger is our conscience bent on taking the easy route. We see some as perfect and others as corrupt without really knowing what is inside. We look at the exterior of man and label them as such. Goodman Brown grew up to the teachings of the clergymen and goody Cloyse. Each were faultless in their countenance with society. Goodman Brown had gone through life with "rose colored glasses", seeing the world around as perfect for those who dramatize an angelic living. These are the blinders we each wear along our chosen path. These are the beginnings of prejudices.
The complete passage:
"`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 ye undeceived! Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome, again, my children, to the communion of your race!'