Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories
Based on “Young Goodman Brown,” what kind of belief system did Goodman Brown have? Research Paper
Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown is an allegorical story that focuses on the religious or theological practices of the Puritans. The Puritan society adheres to strict religious practices thus Brown was not an exception. Brown and his newly wed wife, Faith, respect all the people around them because of their belief in God or Christianity.
Though deeply rooted into Christianity, a single night adventure into the forest alters Brown’s belief in Christianity, which affects his relationship with the people in his community. Initially, Brown believed in Christianity but after the awful encounter with the ‘devil’, he changes his perception on humanity and religious beliefs isolating all the people around him including his wife.
Before embarking on the journey to the forest, Brown not only loves his wife, but also practices strict Christianity through holding prayers and other forms of catechisms. Therefore, one might wonder, what prompts him to visit the ‘devil’? The journey to the forest not only suffocates Brown’s religious beliefs, but also separates him from his family and the community.
Brown believed that all the religious people like the deacons and catechists purely practiced Christianity; therefore, he respected them due to their faith. Unfortunately, while in the forest, he sees some of the religious leaders communicating with the devil. Moreover, he also hears the voice of his religious wife Faith.
After the experience in the forest, Brown declares, “my faith has gone” (Donahue, 25), which means he now believes neither in God/Christianity nor in his wife who coincidentally goes by the name ‘Faith’. Brown assumes or starts believing that all Christians or people in the world are hypocrites.
Brown’s journey has a negative impact on both his religious believes, practices, and social life. Unfortunately, Brown now believes that all human beings are pretenders or practice hypocrisy. Additionally, the world lacks humanity and all people sin according to Brown.
When he sees the deacon and other clergymen in the forest, he becomes unhappy, feeling betrayed by people whose role is to ensure Christianity prevails in the Puritan society. As a result, Brown starts seeing the world as an impure place and believes that all the people are unclean. Besides believing in Christianity, people also ascribe to Satanism, which draws hatred in his heart.
Astonishingly, he believes everything the devil tells him especially about his father/grand father visiting the forest yet they came from a society, which upheld morality especially on religion. For instance, when the devil says “whether in church, bedchamber, street, field, or forest-where crime has been committed, and shall exult to behold the whole earth one stain of guilt, one mighty blood spot”, Brown trusts the words and ends up assuming all puritans are evil (Walter 50).
Therefore, the encounter with the devil pushes Brown to believe both in his preaching and in practices losing his contact with Christianity. Eventually, Brown starts living a fearful, lonely, and sad life filled with regrets. The ability to practice dynamic behavior changes his way of life, which keeps himself from other people.
Socially, the community/society that Brown lives in believes in isolating all other people who are non-Christian or who go to the evil forest. Faith is against Brown’s plan of going to the evil forest because of the negative social impact that he may experience. Similarly, Brown is initially hesitant to go to the forest, which proves that nobody is free to go there.
All the people who go to the devilish forest are evil, witches, wizards, and wicked, which is the reason why Brown is hesitant to join the devilish ceremony. For instance, when Brown sees the clergymen talking to the ‘devil’, his parents, priests, and prominent men from his society, he hides behind a nearby tree because of the debilitating social impact that may befall him.
The freedom of worship lacks in the society because those who visit the devil have to do so at night. Brown decides to meet the devil at night; the same night he sees people from his community in the forest. Thusly, most of the people in the Puritans society practice Christianity in daytime to fit in the community.
Due to Brown’s social belief of shunning all the people who practice Satanism, he decides to stop communicating with everybody including his wife. Although he does not reveal to anybody about his experience in the forest, it is wide open that the devil alters his mind, corrupting his social life.
In summary, Brown’s decision to meet the devil corrupts his mind completely changing his religious and social believes. Consequently, his social life, especially his marriage, becomes useless leading him to live a fearful life. As a Puritan who upholds religious beliefs, he isolates all the people who juggle between Christianity and Satanism including his wife.
Due to fear, he neither loves nor trusts his wife yet he does not physically see her at the ceremony in the evil forest. Finally, he shuns the priests, deacons, and other religious people in the community leading him to lead a miserable life.
Donahue, Jane. My Faith is Gone! ‘Young Goodman Brown’ and Puritan conversion, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown. England: Chelsea House, 2005.
Walter, Shear. Cultural Fate and Social Freedom in Three American Short Stories Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown. England: Chelsea House, 2005.
Young Goodman Brown. Puritanism and Hawthorne [Analysis]
“Where reason may not wade, their faith may swim,” Thomas Watson, a Puritan priest, asserts. Puritanism was a faith developed by Englishman in the 1600s. They were a group of staunch believers in the Holy Bible. Although Puritanism resembled Christianity, it made a sharper distinction between sinners and non-sinners.
The religion stressed that each man had free will to choose, and the sanctity of his/her soul was at risk; in other words, every individual had the mandate to determine his/her destiny by making choices. The transgressions of sinners subjected their soul to eternal damnation. The Puritan faith of a man is put into question in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” A man, Brown, holds dear few things in the 1800s. This paper shall analyze the theme of puritanism in “Young Goodman Brown” short story.
He has his Puritan faith, which he earnestly cherishes, and guards, the love of his wife, ‘Faith,’ whom he adores, and his ancestral upbringing, the deep-seated principles enshrined in Puritanism. These three elemental things help Goodman to navigate between good and evil; they form the platform from which Goodman decides his fate. As Brown faces the devil’s temptation, people easily persuade him to abandon what once grounded him, Puritanism.
The Puritan values of the 1600s as well as the people’s openness to mystical ideas defined good and evil and influenced some Puritans to question the truth and abandon their faith just like Eve of the bible who challenged God’s truth before leaving it under the wiles of the snake, the devil.
What Does Faith Represent in “Young Goodman Brown”?
The Puritans followed the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. One of the most famous stories of man’s ability to be swayed into temptation is the story of Adam and Eve. In ‘Puritan Paradise Lost’ book review, Keith Stavely shows how Adam, Eve, and Satan represent the conventional idea of conflict in the Puritan faith (Stavely 495.) The biblical version of this story bears a striking resemblance to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story.
According to the book of Genesis, God created Adam, and from his rib, Eve was created. After creating these pioneer human beings, God set upon them one demand; that they were not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Nevertheless, having been convinced to eat the forbidden fruit by the snake, Eve persuaded Adam to test God’s will and committed sin by eating the very forbidden fruit. Consequently, Adam and Eve lost their purity, and in its place, shame and guilt took over (New International Version, Gen. 3. 1-9).
For the first time, Adam and Eve realized they were naked and hid from the face of God. Young Goodman Brown experiences this same guilt and persuasive tactics in Hawthorne’s story.
In the initial stages of the story, Brown’s relationship with his wife, faith, is much like that of Adam and Eve, a perfect couple; however, Brown is about to embark on an evil journey, which he knows his wife would not approve. “…and after this one night I will follow her into heaven.
With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose” (Hawthorne 16). Temptation in “Young Goodman Brown” is represented in the moment when Brown travels into the forest defiantly just as Eve ate from the tree of life. Just like Eve, Brown is in search of knowledge, which Satan uses to lure people away.
Once tainted by her sins, Eve felt the need to cover herself from the shame that ensued. The same way, shame affects Young Goodman Brown; as he enters deep into his journey, Brown tells the elder that his ancestors would never travel on such an unthinkable errand.
In response, the elder replies, “I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and that’s no trifle to say” (Hawthorne 18). The elder goes on to describe the evil doings of Brown’s father and grandfather. The shame that Brown feels is enough to convince him to continue on the journey even though he is sure his actions violate his Puritan faith.
In the biblical context of Adam and Eve, the end to their innocence and abandonment of trust underscored their punishment. Initially, Adam and Eve were to enjoy life in the Garden of Eden without toiling; however, after sinning, the punishment was upon them whereby, Adam was to work for food while Eve was to experience labor pain in giving birth.
In the case of Young Goodman Brown, punishment is in the death of his soul; he too has to live a life filled with doubt and uncertainty. “Often, waking suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith; and at morning or eventide, when the family knelt down at prayer; he scowled and muttered to himself, and gazed sternly at his wife, and turned away” (Hawthorne 23.)
Biblical Allusions in “Young Goodman Brown”
What once Brown held most important, his Puritan faith and his wife, no longer matters because the sins from his journey into the forest annihilate his soul that Puritans had warned him. Nevertheless, what evil force drives him to ruin the pure life he once had?
The Puritans gave equal power to Satan as they did to God. The beliefs were that Satan worked as a servant of God to test the righteousness of God’s followers.
Many religions believed that the devil existed. However, what differentiated Puritans is that they believed that God was the devil’s motivating factor. That is, the devil played a pivotal role in harassing and test people’s faith in God in the process of testing and restoring righteousness in God’s followers.
Therefore, Puritans believed that God gave Satan his powers to promote this religious way of life and to make achieving salvation difficult. Puritans’ loyalty to their faith was based on the fear that God would call upon Satan to punish them (Kizer, Para. 5).
In contemporary culture, people do not carry the same amount of fear of the devil; however, in ‘Young Goodman Brown’ as one of the examples of puritanism literature, the fear of Satan’s appearance ran throughout the short story. Brown wondered, “what if the devil himself should be at my very elbow” (Hawthorne 19).
Brown feared that the devil would appear; however, the devil did not show up in the story as a literal person that could be seen. Instead, the devil was disguised as priests, elderly, women, and allusions, and Brown ended up living amongst the very thing he feared, the devil.
The most compelling allusion comes towards the end of the story; the devil cast an allusion upon Brown by leading him to believe that his beloved wife Faith had fallen into the hands of the devil. Brown lamented, “My faith is gone! Cried he, after one stupefies moment…There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name” (Hawthorne 44).
To Brown, this statement was two-fold; one, he lost his wife Faith and two, he lost his faith in Puritanism. Who else but the devil could conjure up such a wicked event? Brown’s religious ideology was that of Puritan values. In other religions such as protestant and Catholic, the devil was someone that a sinner would meet in his/her afterlife; however, according to the Puritan culture, God used Satan top help “promote righteous piety and individual spiritual welfare” (Kizer, Para. 9).
In other words, a test of one’s faith, and in this test, Brown failed. Once convinced that faith was gone, Brown followed her in the forest with a vengeance. Unfortunately, instead of questioning his actions, Brown entertained the notion that he was a sinner; he lost his faith.
Abandonment of one’s faith among Puritan culture was considered a weakness among men. A man was to remain true to his faith and his wife. Marriage was entered into as a lifetime bond of love, sacrifice, and forgiveness.
Hawthorne’s story draws from these beliefs, both figuratively and literally. Brown’s wife’s name is Faith – a play on words because she represents Brown’s Faith in God. Brown being of Puritan ideology, is to remain faithful to God and his wife. Once his wife Faith appears to have left his life permanently, Brown’s figurative faith leaves as well (Mellow 60).
By the end of the story, it is unclear whether faith’s disappearance and the story in its entirety was a dream. The legitimacy of the story bears little relevance because the result is the same. The weakness in Brown’s faith allowed him to believe that the story could have been true. The question becomes, how could Brown show credence in such a story?
As Hawthorne’s story takes the audience through the forest, the readers may call authenticity into question. The serpent staff and tales of witches and witchcraft lack validity in today’s culture. In the Puritan culture, witchcraft was a sin against God. It attempted to alter the fate that God had bestowed upon his followers.
If God could be conjured up in unconceivable manners, then all things involving witchcraft could be real. Witchcraft had been in Europe since the fifteenth century (Modugno, Para. 5). The idea of witchcraft is not synonymous with the Puritans; it appears throughout the Holy Bible. “The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination.
But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” (Deut. 18:14). The terms sorcery and divination are replacements for acts of witchcraft. The verse is clear that God does not permit such practices. Hawthorne brings witchcraft into his story as the catalyst that lured Brown into evil. Several of the characters share the names of individuals charged with witchcraft.
Hawthorne’s intention is to use the relationship between Brown and witchcraft to symbolize the relationship between man and his Puritan faith. As Brown was drawn closer to witchcraft and those who believed in it, he slipped further away from the life of meaning (Modugno, Para. 9).
This implies that the far an individual goes from God, the deeper s/he sinks into sin. The far Brown stayed around witches, the deeper he fell into sin characterized by loss of meaningful life. In essence, God gives people purposes in life, and without Him, life is meaningless, as evidenced by Brown. Thus, it can be stated that stories by Hawthorne and puritanism are inextricably linked.
The Puritan faith was primarily based on the conflict between good and evil. A devout Puritan resisted temptation, no matter how great, letting his/her faith guide him/her through life. Nathaniel Hawthorne used the escapades of Young Goodman Brown as an example of what good and evil conflict. Evil came in the form of witches, serpent’s tails, and allusions; however, in the end, evil was in the mind of Young Goodman Brown. Thus, puritanism in “Young Goodman Brown” is clearly evident.
Hawthorne’s short story objective was to show the reader that the “devil made me do it” is an insufficient answer, regardless of whether that devil was well disguised or not. The Puritan Faith left Brown with a feeling of self-doubt, which marked the end to his life with “Faith”.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Maryland: Wildside Press, 2005. Print.
Kizer, Kay. The Puritans. Web.
Mellow, James R. Hawthorne in His Times. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980.
Modugno, Joseph. “The Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 and “Young Goodman Brown.”
Hawthorne in Salem, Web.
New International Version. The Holy Bible. New York: Harper, 1983.
Stavely, Keith. “Puritan Legacies: Paradise Lost and the New England Tradition, 1630–1890.” Journal of American Studies 22.3 (1988): 490-496.
Young Goodman Brown- Nathaniel Hawthorne Research Paper
A Brief Biography
The works of Nathaniel Hawthorne were a reflection of the history of his Puritan relations and the New England during his days. Some of his well-known works include The Scarlet Letter, Young Goodman Brown, and The House of the Seven Gables.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1804. Two aspects of his early life especially influenced his writing career: the Hathornes had been persecuted due to their religious affiliations and the Salem witchcraft trials.
Nathaniel’s father passed on in 1808, leaving his wife and three kids-two girls and a boy – reliant on relatives. Nathaniel spent his early life in Salem and Maine. A leg injury limited his movements for a significant duration, during which he developed a passion for reading and thinking.
With assistance from his rich uncles, Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College in Maine (1821 – 24). Hawthorne had no interest of taking up any occupation, instead choosing to read and write short stories, many of which were published in newspapers. Among the novels were Fanshawe (1828), Young Goodman Brown (1835), and a collection, Twice Told Tales (1837).
In 1842, Hawthorne married Sophia Peabody and together they had three children. The family settled at Concorde, Massachusetts. Unable to support his family from writing alone, Hawthorne took up a position at the Salem County House as a surveyor in 1846, but was dismissed two years later because his political connections.
The dismissal turned to be a blessing in disguise as he wrote The Scarlet Letter, his most successful work. The duration from 1850 to 1853 was the most fruitful since he wrote The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance.
Franklin Pierce, Hawthorne’s former schoolmate at Bowdoin, became president in 1852 and Hawthorne was selected as the American consul at England from 1853 – 57. He wrote Our Old Home (1863) during the stay at England. In 1857, the Hawthornes moved to Italy and settled mainly in Rome and Florence.
They later returned to England and Nathaniel completed his final and lengthiest work, The Marble Faun (1860). The family returned to America and stayed in their permanent home at Concorde. He died on May 19, 1864 while visiting the New Hampshire Hills with Franklin Pierce (Meltzer, pp. 54).
Young Goodman Brown
The story begins at night in Salem when Goodman Brown leaves his wife, Faith, to meet a strange person in the forest. As they meet, Brown and the individual advance further into the forest, at this juncture, it becomes evident that his companion is the devil, and the reason for that journey is to participate in an unknown ceremony, but clearly an evil one.
As they progress with the journey, Brown realizes that others are heading for the ceremony, most of whom are from Salem town and whom he had believed to be Christians and pure in heart. He is surprised and discouraged and once again opts to turn back, however, before he does this, he hears Faith’s voice and recognizes that she is the one who is to be initiated at the ceremony. Knowing that he has lost faith and Faith, he decides to join the ceremony.
At the ceremony, new converts are called to the altar for anointing, just when Faith is about to be anointed in blood, he shouts out her to look to heaven and refuse. He finds himself alone in the forest.
Arriving in Salem the following morning, Brown is unsure whether the occurrence was real or a dream, however, his outlook of those around him, including his wife, drastically changes.
Goodman Brown exhibits purity and corruptibility as he wavers between believing in the innate kindness of the individuals around him and believing that the devil has conquered the minds of those he loves. When the story begins, Brown is convinced of the righteousness of his father and grandfather until the old man, possibly the devil, tells him otherwise.
Brown has faith in Goody Cloyse, the priest, and Deacon Gookin until the devil tells to him that Cloyse is a witch and Gookin is his assistant. Eventually, he is convinced that Faith, his wife, is upright and honest, until the devil shows him at the ceremony that she too is unclean. The revelations show Brown’s lack of a firm stand as he easily swayed. He shows us the good and evil sides of humankind.
Through his exposure of the good and evil sides of humankind, Hawthorne mentions what he believes as the concealed corruption of the Puritan society. Goodman Brown believes in the public portrayal of purity made by his father and the church leaders and in the communal formations that are built upon that purity.
Hawthorne uses Brown to show his audience that behind the public display of purity, the Puritans’ acts were adulterated. Satan tells Brown that he was there when his father, grandfather and other church members burned native Indians’ villages, suggesting that the founding of English country has a dim side that religion falls short of explaining.
Faith Brown is Goodman Brown’s wife and serves a symbolical purpose in the novel. Brown leaves her at night to have a meeting with the devil, when asked why he was late, Brown answers “Faith kept me back a while” (Hawthorne, pp. 10). She stands for positive force in the society. Consequently, when Brown realizes that she too is evil, he cries “My Faith is gone” and runs frantically toward the witches’ assembly (Hawthorne, pp. 23).
Faith represents the solidity of the family and the domestic realm in the Puritan outlook. As her name hints, she seems to be most pure-hearted among the Puritans and functions as a substitute of sorts for religious emotions.
Her husband clings to her as he inquires about the righteousness of those he knew, drawing comfort from the fact that if Faith remains pure, then his own faith is worth defending. However, when he discovers that Faith too is corruptible, he believes that everyone around him is evil. Brown’s estrangement from Faith at the conclusion of the story is the worst result of his change of mind.
The Old Man/ Devil
In this novel, the devil seems to be a normal man, showing that everyone, including Brown, can be evil. The devil appears from the forest decently dressed just as any man in Salem would, but Goodman Brown discovers that the devil can emerge in any situation and fail to appear inapt.
By accentuating the chameleon nature of the devil, Hawthorne illustrates that the devil basically personifies the worst side of man. By mentioning that the devil could be Brown’s father, the writer builds a link between them, leaving the readers to speculate whether the two are related or the devil is Brown’s evil side. Brown’s contact with the devil affects him forever.
Critique of the Novel
Nancy Bunge in Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Study of the Short Fiction (1993) critiques the book based on the conduct of Goodman Brown (Bunge, 14). She mentions that everybody is corrupt and can move along honestly and openly with others after admitting this grim truth. Yet Brown rejects this reality and destroys his life by trying to maintain his righteousness.
The novel reveals this fact so painfully that, despite the huge amount of critical commentary on the story, many recognize it as the novel’s theme. Bunge is right; the climax of the novel takes place at the ceremony, especially when Brown finds out that Faith was also evil. This changes him forever.
Nina Baym in Thwarted Nature: Hawthorne as Feminist, argues from the outlook of the female characters. She mentions that the protagonists, regularly male, decline any sexual bond with a female figure, normally a spouse or fiancée (136).
In most cases, this action has a grave effect on the scorned woman. Stories written prior to 1842 have a female character demolished only by accident, not purposely. In Young Goodman Brown, Brown’s separation with his wife was not intentional, as he had intended to return to her after the appointment with the devil.
Baym asserts that the act of a man leaving his wife demonstrates the male’s disinterest to the affairs of their female counterparts. She defines women as sexual beings and the men as “sexually frozen” (138). Baym suggests that Hawthorne’s male characters are engrossed with their female counterparts but the only way of making contact with them is through desire.
Joan Easterly asserts that Brown is a changed man after his encounter in the forest. Hawthorne shows how Brown fails the trial of his moral and divine being. For instance, brown does not cry after seeing Faith and those who were close to him at the ceremony.
This indicates that he has no compassion for these people and therefore cannot a Christian himself (340). I disagree with this point, Brown was filled with so much grief after seeing that his father, grandfather and church leaders were all corruptible. Finding out that his wife was also evil was just too painful for him and we see him shouting to her to look to heaven and refuse the initiation.
Baym, Nina. Thwarted Nature: Hawthorne as Feminist. 1993. New York, Twayne Publishers.
Bunge, Nancy. Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Study of the Short Fiction. 1993. New York: Twayne Publishers.
Easterly, Joan Elizabeth. Lachrymal Imagery in Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown. Studies in Short Fiction. 1991, pp. 339-43.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. 2005. Young Goodman Brown. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.
Meltzer, Milton. Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography. 2007. Washington: Twenty-First Century Books.
Young Goodman Brown Essay
Campbell, Donna M. “Puritanism in New England.” Literary Movements. Dept. of English, Washington State University. 21 Mar. 2010. Web. This source points to the main principles of Puritanism, the brief that people live in the state of depravity. It helps understand the message of the story.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Wildside Press LLC, 2005. Print. It is a primary source.
Neary, John. “Shadows and illuminations: Spiritual journeys to the dark side in “Young Goodman Brown” and Eyes Wide Shut.” Religion & the Arts 10.2 (2006): 244-270. This source tries to point not to the events the main character lived in but to the specific experience he managed to get out of those events. The dark side is considered as the basic environment the main character had to live.
The weakness of the society depends on the faith of those who live there and if one loses faith and believes that others have made the same, it leads to unsupported suspicions of evil nature of people who live nearby.
Looking at the history of mankind, it is possible to see one of the attributes which follows it all the time. It is faith. No matter what century either before or after the Christ’s birth is considered, people always believed in something. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story which points to weak sides of Puritanism and social believes which result in loose of faith.
The weakness of the society depends on the faith of those who live there and if one loses faith and believes that others have made the same, it leads to unsupported suspicions of evil nature of people who live nearby.
Brown believes that al people around him have deep faith in good. This is the main basis of his faith. When he goes to the forest, he does not pay attention to the fact that he goes to devil, he sees his neighbors and understand that they have lost their faith. This is the beginning of his disbelief and loss of faith in good. His belief was based on the beliefs of others, as it has been mentioned. When he saw that those beliefs had been ruined, his faith had ruined as well.
Considering the symbols which may be seen in the story, the first lines point to the main one. Brown leaves and house and Faith, his wife. Such name of the wife is chosen not by chance and leaving a wife for one night, Brown loses the faith in good for all his life. The dark night is the association with the devil, as evil affairs are made when no one is able to see, at night (Neary 248).
The weakness of the morality in society takes place when people stop have personal perception of faith, when they are unable to consider what they believe into and copy the beliefs of the society. This is the main factor which points to the weakening of the society in general. The author of the book tries to find roots of such behavior in Puritanism, a religion which creates corruptibility of private religious faith (Campbell n.p).
In conclusion, the main character has to live his life without faith in humanity and in good. The story is a god example of the life of a person who believes in nothing, an unhappy man. Brown is tempted by devil, but tries to convince the whole society in this affair.
Campbell, Donna M. “Puritanism in New England.” Literary Movements. Dept. of English, Washington State University. 21 Mar. 2010. Web.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Wildside Press LLC, 2005. Print.
Neary, John. “Shadows and Illuminations: Spiritual Journeys to the Dark Side in “Young Goodman Brown” and Eyes Wide Shut.” Religion & the Arts 10.2 (2006): 244-270.
Young Goodman Brown Annotated Bibliography
The key concept of this research paper is an in-depth analysis of the book “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This bibliography analyses the works of Johnson Claudia, Hurley Paul, Korb Rena, Carlson Patricia, and Hostetler Norman. These articles review the book “Young Goodman Brown.”
Carlson, Patricia Ann. “Setting and Fictional Dynamics.” Hawthorne’s Functional Settings: A Study of Artistic Method. Editions Rodopi, 1977. 128-131. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Anna J. Sheets. Vol.29. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web.
Carlson, Patricia Ann’s “Setting and Fictional Dynamics” article discuses symbolic connotation of the village and forest settings which influences Goodman Brown’s view of good and evil. The author presents the scenic elements of the forest and the village without ambiguity. Carlson explains the innocence of village life. Also, she resonates on how an external influence can completely alter faith and perception. The article presents the climax of the plot in emotive context.
The author resonates on the contradictory extremes of misguided attitude and false perception in the belief of ‘a blackness power.’ Besides, Carlson clarifies on Brand and Brown’s perception of super natural power. The conclusion of this article provides a summary of Brown’s frustration and eventual death.
This article will add value to my research paper on the component of symbolism especially when discussing forest and the village. Besides, the author has simplified the understanding of factors which positively or negatively influence faith and perception. This article is developed from an array of deductive arguments from which Carlson creates her views. These arguments are relevant to my research topic on the qualitative component. Conclusively, the article presents a strong climax on the plot of the story.
Hostetler, Norman H. “Narrative Structure and Theme in ‘Young Goodman Brown’.” The Journal of Narrative Technique 12.3 (Fall 1982): 221-228. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Anna J. Sheets. Vol. 29.Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web.
In the article, ‘Narrative Structure and Theme in ‘Young Goodman Brown,’ by Hostetler Norman, the theme is conflict analysis between the narrator and title character. Besides, the article examines conscious awareness, Irony, imaginations, and the ideal epistemology in decision making. The author concurs that acceptance of universal experiment depends on perceptions and ability to create positive imagination.
Hostetler examines the psychological influence on judgment and conflict interpretation. Interestingly, conflict is the basis of confusion if unattended. The author identifies imaginations and awareness as themes. Hostetler presents well researched arguments. His proactive analysis of conflict is relevant to my research topic.
The author proves that imaginations can be self-destructing especially when not balanced with reasoning. The conclusion of the article is drawn from a range of dependent and independent premises. These premises are relevant to the topic of my research.
Hurley J. Paul. “Young Goodman Brown’s ‘Heart of Darkness.’” American Literature. Southern Illinois University: Illinois, 2003. EBSCO Publishing. Web.
Hurley J. Paul’s article, ‘Young Goodman Brown’s Heart of Darkness,’ examines the controversies on ‘Young Goodman Brown.’ The article explores on the various views of sin, thus, evil. The author explains Arguments of different critics and confesses of a diabolical inspiration. Besides, Hurley justifies limits of fiction in arguments and hallucinations. In conclusion, the author opines that self justification and ego-induced fantasy is a disease of the mind.
This article presents strong arguments on the negative impacts of self-justification. Hurley suggests that imperative and factious arguments only results in confusion. Subsequently, confusion facilitates ego-induced fantasy. In the end, an individual becomes the victim of his/her beliefs.
In my research paper, this article will be the basis of thesis statement. Since the article consists of well researched sources from which the author builds discrete arguments, I will adopt it. This approach is easily testable for fallacies and restrictive notions. Besides, the article incorporates views that are relevant to the research topic.
Johnson, Claudia G. “‘Young Goodman Brown and Puritan Justification.” Studies in Short Fiction 11.2 (Spring 1974): 200-203. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Anna J. Sheets. Vol. 29. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web.
This essay by Johnson, Claudia G. examines ‘Young Goodman Brown’ in the aspect of justification of Puritan doctrine stating that God can open man’s heart to let him know himself better. The author explores views of Puritan theorists concerning sin and descent. Johnson reviews Goodman Brown‘s descent and visions. Interestingly, the author concludes that Good Brown’s visions and views on Puritanism is regenerative, negative, and of unjustified fake descent.
The author deliberates on separating and defining reality and dream. Though Newton Arvin views Goodman’s vision as true, Johnson seems to think otherwise. According to the doctrines of the puritans, God gave man another chance after breaking the first Covenant.
Despite the hard labor and sweat, the covenant of hope and faith swells above man’s inequities. However, the author asserts that Goodman’s vision misinterpreted justification to favor many of the misled followers who are not keen on self-scrutiny. Johnson’s views are practical as far as personal beliefs are concern.
The essay concentrates on establishing the reality as part of self examination. In the research topic, the concept of self discovery is essential in predicting and interpreting behavior of an individual or a group. Thus, this resource will form part of the literature review. The author has applied qualitative research when analyzing arguments and refers to different schools of thought before a conclusion.
Korb, Rena. “An overview of ‘Young Goodman Brown,’.” Short Stories for Students. Detroit: Gale, 2002.Literature Resource Center. Web.
Korb Rena’s article, ‘An overview of Young Goodman Brown,’ examines various themes in “Young Goodman Brown,” such as Puritanism, ambiguity, good and evil, and allegorical structure tales. Narrated in prose form, the author presents an accurate picture of the Puritan society. Besides, the article explores on the interesting traits of the main characters.
Korb’s writing assumes a universal allegory as part of the analysis. The author explores the rich culture, essence of faith, and beliefs in godliness. This article is clear on plot and characterization. Korb acknowledge existence of loneliness and sadness in a dungeon of the heart suffering spiritual isolation.
This source is a summary of Hawthorne’s book. Thus, the article is relevant to my topic of research. It expounds on characterization of the cast accompanied by a simple plot. Korb’s informed conclusion facilitates understanding of the book. Besides, this article presents a quantitative analysis of Hawthorne’s book.
Goodman Brown political views and religious beliefs Essay
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story Young Goodman Brown, there exists sufficient evidence to prove that death and birth can be symbolized through events, characters and objects. These symbols do not only highlight the main themes in the short story, but also represent Hawthorne’s political views and religions beliefs. The main characters who symbolize death and birth are Faith (Young Goodman Brown’s wife) and a grave man whom Brown meets in the forest.
The forest is depicted being gloomy dreary and evil. Additionally, Faith symbolizes political conservativeness as she clings to conservative Christianity throughout. Such conservativeness ensures that she does not suffer eternal condemnation like her husband Young Goodman Brown who is meant to represent the political hypocrites like Governor Howard Dean who changed views to suit their political whims.
Furthermore, the serpent like features that the grave man has is also a symbol of death. In addition, the departure of Young Goodman Brown from his wife’s comfortable house into the darkness of the forest symbolizes the birth of Brown’s new life. It also represents the departure from popular conservativeness to the unpopular liberal mindedness, which provokes a conflict of a person against the entire mainstream of society.
Therefore, characters, objects and events in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown do not only symbolize death and birth, but also reveal prevailing political views and religious beliefs. Hawthorne’s religious beliefs are evident in the short story and feature death and birth.
This concept of death and birth is seen from the beginning of the story due to the characters, such as Faith, Young Goodman Brown’s wife. Faith is symbol of the puritan Christian life. Faith like President Bush “relied too much on faith to make decisions” (Facts on File News Services para 7) when she pleads Brown to “put off his journey and sleep in his own bed until sunrise” (Hawthorne 7). however, her requests are unsuccessful.
This is a sign of Faith’s relevance as a life sustaining figure in Brown’s life; Faith’s religious beliefs seem to convince her that the journey will mark Brown’s death. It also signifies Hawthorne’s belief that Christianity is the foundation of successful life. Once in the forest, Brown meets a grave man adorned in “grave and decent attire… and had a staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake” (Hawthorne 10).
The black snake is a token of the evil in the society and also signifies departure from mainstream conservative views. Like abortion which many of the conservative Christians oppose (Facts on File News Services para 26- 28), the black snake is a mark of liberal mindedness.
Additionally, Brown confesses to the grave man that his “father… and his father before him… were a race of honest men and good Christians” (Hawthorne 12). This signifies that Hawthorne believes Christianity to be the only way to live an honest and fruitful life. This encounter further implies that Brown’s ancestors had been devoted Christians and significantly marks the death of Christian beliefs.
Throughout the night, Brown is experiencing disturbing visions. That’s why in the morning when he goes back home to his wife Faith, Brown’s Christian spirit had died. In church, Brown realizes the extent of his spiritual death when the preaching makes no meaning to him, and he labels the preacher as a blasphemer. Brown’s spiritual death also symbolizes his physical death. His spiritual death is a precursor to his physical one.
When Brown was “borne to his grave a hoary corpse”, the mourners “carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom” (Hawthorne 26). Therefore Hawthorne asserts that the loss of ones religious identify is the beginning of one’s spiritual and the ultimate physical death. Brown chooses to forsake his Christian faith and live a faithless life when he decides to visit the forest for an “evil purpose” (Hawthorne 7).
Unlike Senator Kerry who chose to be “on God’s side” despite of being criticized for being too liberal (Facts on File News Services para 24), Brown chooses to be on the devil’s side when he decides to go to the forest with an evil aim. This is the birth of Brown’s faithless life through which his eventual death is symbolized. Brown takes “a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest… with narrow path creeping through, and closed immediately behind…” (Hawthorne 9).
Furthermore, Brown knows that he is in the midst of “unseen multitudes” (Hawthorne 7) implying that there are unseen evil forces in the forest. Like Senator Kerry who forsakes some of the Catholic beliefs and is against campaigns for abortion (Facts on File News Services para 10), Brown decides to renounce his Christian leads to his spiritual and physical death..
It is imperative to state that Hawthorne alludes to the fact that evil and death exist in the real world. Human beings are carriers, and regardless people believing in God and serving Him, this evil lives even among those who confess to Christianity. The only way of escaping such a situation is through chaste followership of Christian belief. Hawthorne attains this by comparing the appearance of the grave man to Brown.
In Hawthorne’s words, the grave man “bore a considerable resemblance to Brown more in expression than in feature” (Hawthorne 10). Symbolically, the grave man portrays gloom and evil as a real personification of Death. It can be argued from this assertion that Brown’s resemblance to the grave man reflects evil and death which exist in a real world and which human beings unknowingly posses.
In addition, the grave man tries to appeal to Brown not to be afraid since Brown’s relatives as well as other Christians “were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight” (Hawthorne 13). The grave man can be likened to Senator Kerry.
Like Senator Kerry who forsook his Christian beliefs propagating atrocious acts such as abortion (Facts on File News Services para 10), the grave man helped members of Brown’s family, such as Brown’s father and grandfather, as well as other Christians who had lived in chastity to commit acts of atrocity. Senator Kerry’s as well as the grave man’s actions are symbols of the death of Christianity that also illustrate Hawthorne’s belief that evil and religion exist side by side, and that the most chaste people can avoid evil.
The use of symbols also illustrates Hawthorne’s political views in the United States and the relationship between politics and religion. Various symbols within Young Goodman Brown reveal the dominant political ideologies and what a significant role religion, especially Christianity, plays in American politics.
In the recent years, “U.S. politicians have become increasingly vocal about their religious beliefs” (Facts on File News Services para 10). However, such a vocalization of their religious inclination has lead to much criticism or the decline of some of politicians’ political life. Like Senator Kerry who vocalized antireligious views which lead to “denial of communion” (Facts on File News Services para 34) with the church and the society, Brown’s anti Christian stance results to him in being considered an outcast.
As it is explained above, this is the beginning of Brown’s death. Similarly, Senator Kerry’s support of pro-choice views, which are in opposition to mainstream catholism views on life, led to his eventual political death. While Hawthorne’s views on the relationship between religion and politics are not explicit in Young Goodman Brown, the implications are evident when analyzing the latest occurrences of Vis a Vis in America.
Events, objects and characters of Young Goodman Brown express, albeit implicitly, that Hawthorne sees conservative and liberal political views in a conflict. In Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown, there are characters that explicitly support conservative views, but are inwardly democratic.
Hawthorne achieves this through the numerous outwardly chaste characters such as Brown’s father and grandfather with whom the grave man had been “good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk had they had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight” (Hawthorne 13).
Unlike Senator Kerry who explicitly expressed liberal views on religion, these characters chose to remain overtly conservative (staunch Christians), but secretly held liberal anti Christian views by being friends with the grave man. Furthermore, Brown explicitly asserts, “With heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!”. Before this statement, he was in the forest and pledged the devil his allegiance to him.
These characters lived in spiritual conflict. This expresses Hawthorne’s political assertions that the society is overtly conservative, and that those who try to pursuit the liberal politics risk to be condemned by the society. Furthermore, this fact also exposes the political hypocrisy within the society where politicians like Governor Howard Dean who embraced Christianity to win governorship (Facts on File News Services para 23) both accept and deny religion to suit their political agenda.
The use of symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story Young Goodman Brown is not only used to depict brown’s spiritual and physical death, but how dangerous it is for a person to depart from the Christian faith. Moreover, these symbols expose prevailing religious beliefs and political views. Young Goodman Brown ignores his wife’s appeals not to go to the forest at night. This marks Brown’s beginning encountering the death.
Death and birth are not explicitly stated by alluded to through events, objects as well as characters such as Faith and the grave man. Hawthorn’s symbols have also been illuminated through real life figures such as President Bush, Senator Kerry and others. Like most of the conservative Republicans, Faith and other chaste Christians, such as Brown’s father and grandfather, choose to abide by conservative Christianity.
However, liberal mindedness is revealed through Brown, and like other real life figures such as Senator Kerry who suffers eternal condemnation as a result of adopting liberal views. Therefore, through these symbols, Hawthorne makes overt references on the perils of living a faithless life as well. He also highlights the conflict between liberalism and conservativeness as well as how religion influences modern politics.
Facts on File News Services. Religion in Politics: Issues & Controversies. Facts on File News Services, 2010. Web.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. New Jersey: Wildside Press LLC, 2005. Print.
“Young Goodman Brown”: Setting, Symbolism and Characters Essay
The setting in The Young Goodman Brown influences the development of plot and character. The setting of a play is a crucial element in terms of establishing direction, feel and structure that a specific story carries. Usually, a reflection of numerous essential aspects of work; culture, time, location and tone is determined through the setting of the story. That is how an ambience and emotional connotation within readers are created.
The characters in Young Goodman Brown are direct and sure by-products of communities and environments in which they live. The story portrays a paradigm of a setting’s significance. It exemplifies the importance of setting as it reflects and applies to the core meaning of the piece. The story’s background provides a historical look into the characters and their lifestyles.
For example, one quickly discovers that Brown lives in a puritan society in the 17th century (Crowley 65). Thus, several inferences of the character of Brown can be made. This essay is an analysis of the story’s setting, symbolism and characters.I’ve selected the character of Brown, who contends with aspects of the past. It illustrates how Hawthorne’s setting and symbolism of the Young Goodman Brown contribute to the meaning of the entire piece.
Young Goodman Brown: Setting and Characters
Gothic elements are used by Hawthorne in the story to make Brown’s experience convincing and engaging. In part, the gothic aspects of the setting contribute to the story’s intention. The setting is mysterious, and this develops conflict in Brown’s mind and builds his character.
The setting of the Young Goodman Brown ,(the time and location of the action, dusk and forest) cumulatively assists in the devil destructing Brown’s commitment to Puritanism. The elements of forest and darkness turn to haunt Brown. This increases Brown’s internal problems and fear. Due to fear, Brown begins conceiving evil everywhere along his route through the forest. In other words, the forest as a whole represents a gorge of darkness and unconsciousness for Brown (Lynch 64).
With all these devilish elements, the forest at times turns to be part of Brown’s personality. The denser he ventures into the forest, the more he becomes one of his evil. Brown transforms into a devil out of fear as evil exists everywhere. Brown moves too deep into the darkness, period of uncertainty and religious clashes throughout his experience.
Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown
Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism to create a parallel situation of more in-depth and indirect references. Besides establishing depth resulting from indirectness, symbols enrich Brown’s experience by deepening the conflict in his mind. Also, by utilizing some symbols, Hawthorne violates the fixed conceptual purpose associated with Brown as a character.
Young Goodman Brown is full of symbolism. It applies a cluster of symbols which depicts a series of contrasts reflecting both; problems experienced by Brown; and the extent these symbols influence his personality. Dusk and sunrise, for example, indicate two extremes which indicate commencement and end of a journey.
Dusk, on the one hand, is the period that proceeds darkness and therefore stands for the coming of evil. Dusk, a time between light and total darkness, depicts times of hesitation which Brown begins to experience after meeting the devil.
Further, darkness which is a reflection of evil is purposed to put Brown in a real experience of facing evil. Sunrise, on the other hand, marks the end of the journey. It is a representation of the state of certainty which Brown comes up with by the end of the story. This moment forms clarity in Brown’s belie and attitude towards the village people. This contrast of light and darkness is another good example of symbolism in the Young Goodman Brown.
In summary, the Young Goodman Brown is a Puritanism satire. From the author’s point of view, it is a belief system that pursues an ideology that deepens conflicts and divisions. It discards all efforts at establishing any common position among the numerous Christian sects on the one hand, and other beliefs on the other.
The aspect of Puritanism, through distrust and doubt, encourages the possibility of splitting societies over religious issues at the expense of unity and togetherness. It tries to expel those who are not Puritans and those who do not conform and looks upon them as sinners. This past attends negatively on Brown’s personality as he obeys out of fear.
The story offers historical insight into the character of Brown and his lifestyle. For instance, we quickly understand that Brown lives in a Puritan society right from the onset. We can see Puritanism in some aspects as unrelenting and biased. Puritanism is a Christian sect that looks upon its members as the only devout and looks upon members of other sects as non-conformists.
The Puritans believe that they are the only ones who should be admitted in the membership of the church. The congregations of such individuals portray the true church. The sect does not tolerate others and relates itself to the devil against general humanity (Lynch 65).
This sort of extremism of Puritan principles indicates the spread of puritan ideology and its reception among people. Thus, the bias nature of Puritanism leads to hatred, distrust and segmentation among human beings. According to Lynch (2009; P. 69), puritans established themselves a distrustful society for a vibrant congregation which would later harm them.
The main character of Young Goodman Brown is a reflection of the puritan ideology. In him, Hawthorne’s Puritanism is satirized as the dominant faith in his hometown. He looks at Puritanism in a manner to suggest his disillusionment and dissatisfaction with it as a system of belief. In the descriptions of Goodman Brown, Hawthorne seems to discover back his personal experiences with puritans (Lynch 70).
Crowley, Joseph. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Taylor & Francis, 1971.
Lynch, John. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Massachusetts: Salem Press, 2009.
Short stories analysis Essay
In their short stories, Edgar Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne explore the psychological peculiarities of their characters and the transformation of their inner world. This paper is aimed at discussing such works as Young Goodman Brown written Hawthorn and Poe’s famous short story The Fall of the House of Usher. Overall, one can argue that both authors show how characters perceive and respond to the disintegration of the world that has been familiar to them.
These people suffer a severe emotional trauma. This is one of the main themes that these writers explore. These questions can be better examined by looking at the setting of these short stories, conflicts, the transformation of the protagonists, and style because they can show the techniques used by these writers. These are the main issues that should be taken into account by the readers of these texts.
First of all, Hawthorn and Poe focus on the setting since this element can better explain the behavior of various characters. For instance, Hawthorn emphasizes that the action takes place in the Puritan New England, probably in the seventeenth century. In particular, the readers learn the characters live in Salem, a village which is notorious for numerous witch trials that were held there (Hawthorne 7).
To a great extent, this detail suggests that the narrative will describe some dramatic events. The location is very important for the writer because in this way, he can introduce supernatural element into the narrative. In turn, Edgar Poe does not directly identify the exact time and location of the story, but the readers can see that the action takes place in some desolate location which is not easily accessible to other people.
The first sentence of the story illustrates how Poe describes the setting, “I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher” (Poe 4). One can say that both authors strive to create an atmosphere of suspense. To some degree, this goal is attained by looking at the setting of these short stories. This is one of the main aspects that can be identified.
Furthermore, much attention should be paid to the main characters of these stories. For example, Goodman Brown is firmly convinced that he lives in a virtuous community in which people try to be immune to sin. He can be described as a virtuous and slightly naïve person who wants to see the better qualities of other people. Nevertheless, he can sense that something is wrong. He feels that the hidden life of people can differs dramatically from their public life.
In turn, the unnamed narrator of Edgar Poe story can notice that his friend Roderick Usher is in the state of physical and psychological collapse, even he cannot understand why he has changed so significantly. He can be viewed as a very perceptive individual who can detect the changes in the behavior of other people. Thus, these characters can be described as very responsive people, and this is one of the similarities that should be taken into consideration.
Additionally, it is vital to look at the conflicts which drive the narratives presented by the authors. Nathaniel Hawthorne examines the conflict between the proclaimed and hidden values of people. It should be mentioned that the residents of the village claim to be virtuous Puritans who are only concerned with the ethical aspects of their behavior.
However, they participate in a witch Sabbath and this ritual is hardly compatible with the ideals that these villagers claim to have. Moreover, there is internal conflict between his own rationality and belief in the better qualities of other people. At the moment of bitter disappointment, the main character says, ‘My faith is gone…. There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name’ (Hawthorne 23).
In turn, the narrator of Edgar Poe’s story is torn by the conflict to run away from the declining house of Usher and his devotion to his friend, Roderick. The narrator strives to cope with “the sense of insufferable gloom” when he approaches the house (Poe 4). Nevertheless, he still wishes to meet Roderick. So, the authors explore different conflicts, but these elements of the narrative are vital for explaining the main themes of these short stories.
Apart from that, it is vital to look at different elements of the plot. Nathaniel Hawthorn does not immediately reveal the purpose of the main character’s journey or its outcome. Moreover, the readers do not know what the protagonist will find out in the forest. The plot of this short story contains such elements as exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution. These are some of the details that should not be disregarded.
Similarly, Poe does not reveal what happens to Roderick Usher and why his sister died. This approach enables the writers to focus the readers’ attention on the narrative. Moreover, the writers show how the world, which is familiar to the characters, gradually falls apart. In particular, Goodman Brown sees how the ideals such as faith or devotion lose their value. In turn, Edgar Poe describes the decline of Roderick Usher and emotional response of the narrator. This is one of the key details that should be considered.
Finally, it is important to examine the style of both authors. One can argue that Edgar Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne try to make sure that every detail throws some light on the characters, their inner world or at least the setting. This is one of the similarities in the style of these writers. Yet, there are some distinctions. In particular, Nathaniel Hawthorne shows that his characters use the archaic words or phrases such as “thou” or “sayest” (Hawthorne 11).
The speech of these people indicates that these characters could be living in the Puritan New England (Hawthorne 11). Additionally, the characters have such names as Faith or Goodman which were very popular in the seventeenth century. In this way, the author wants to show that the residents of the village wanted to showcase their piety. In turn, Edgar Poe prefers to use various epithets and metaphors which can intensify the feeling of suspense.
The following quote illustrates the writing style of this author, “feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellised panes” (Poe 8). This passage shows that Poe wants to create vivid images that produce a long-lasting impression on the reader. He wants the reader to imagine the dreary house in which the action takes place.
Overall, these examples indicate that Edgar Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne attach much importance to the psychological development of the characters. They can perfectly describe how they responds to the collapse of something that they have taken for granted.
Goodman Brown is forced to accept that his neighbors and even his wife are not as virtuous and pious as they claim to be. In turn, the unnamed narrator of Edgar Poe’s story is forced to see the decline of his friend. One can argue that both characters suffer from significant psychological trauma. This is one of the main details that be identified.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown, Boston: Wildside Press LLC, 2005. Print.
Poe, Edgar. The Fall of the House of Usher. New York:The Floating Press, 2011. Print.
Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”: Cynicism or Meliorism? Essay
Paul w. Miller in “Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown: Cynicism or Meliorism” states that critics have shared the feeling that Hawthorne’s story intends to express the move from the relationship between God and man that is brokered through faith to the state of evil taking charge resulting to the damnation of the human soul. He is not sure whether they think Hawthorne uses Goodman Brown to represent humanity as a whole or only the men who share the same sentiments as himself (255).
Miller says that if Young Goodman Brown represents the whole of humanity, then this should be an indication of the cynicism held by the author Hawthorne during the time he composed this story. He goes on to indicate that if Young Goodman Brown was a representative of a segment of people who share sentiments similar to his, then his creator must have been pessimistic.
In analyzing the words of Henry James, Miller says that the picture of Young Goodman Brown created by Hawthorne is not in any way intended to reflect his views about humankind. He says that it should however be viewed as simply work of creativity and nothing more. He however disagrees with James view by stating that unless other critics can analyze any work of art and the hidden meaning extracted, the work never qualifies not for a good art since this is what defines its quality.
According to Miller, whether or not the creation of Young Goodman Brown is a representation of humanity depends on whether or not there is human representation in the whole story. This he says would determine if Young Goodman Brown is the representative of humanity or not considering whether Hawthorne has a sample of humanity in the story. Miller argues that if there were a representative sample of humanity in the story, then it is possible that Brown would not be a representative of all humans (258).
Miller specifies that if in the story Brown moves from being faithful to be being evil, it is a clear indication strategically the story by Hawthorne targets to represent humanity. On the other hand if Brown is simply deluded by the devil with hallucinations and seeing false figures in the forest, it is then clear that he is not a representative of all humans but of a few who hold suspicions on others as he does.
There are critics who view Young Goodman Brown as skeptical according to Miller. These include Richard Forgie, who then based on this concludes that Brown is a representative of the entire humanity. McKeithan’s view is different considering his conclusion brought out by Miller that Brown cannot pass for a representative of all men or the other people in the story.
Miller concludes “…the witches that Brown saw in the forest were real” (260). He continues to justify Brown’s misanthropic view of the other people. His devotion to evil bars him to be regarded as a representative of all the other humans.
Miller states the need to replace Hawthorne’s explanation of witch trials as containing that puritan “rigorism” by a virtue, which starts with the confession of human weaknesses. Miller concludes by addressing how one need not to consider Brown’s story as based on his view on humanity but what the society can influence on a man such as Brown.
Miller, Paul. “Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’: Cynicism or Meliorism:” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 14. 3 (1959): 255-264. Print
“Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay (Book Review)
Nathaniel Hawthorne has written his short story “Young Goodman Brown” as the mixture of two genres – the horror story and the story with the moral. Hence is the unique peculiarity of the narration: the short story is interpreted as the text with the contradictions. In “Young Goodman Brown” Hawthorne writes about the most significant of the contradictions: “Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest, and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?” (17).
The nature of the reality is called in question, and it is difficult to understand, what really happened to young Brown. After all, I think that even the storyteller does not know, what actually happened to his character. Hawthorne uses his favorite device of the ironic ambiguous features, the shift of the viewpoint from the narrator to the character and back. We as the readers find ourselves in the world, where we can hardly distinguish between real and seeming.
All the events, persons, and things have two sides, and every character, which is considered to be “good” by young Brown, turns out “bad” in reality. Actually, I suppose that there are no “good” persons in the short story except Goodman Brown. The metamorphoses concern the items too; simple knotty stick transforms into the magic staff wriggling like a snake.
However, the most important and the most terrible metamorphoses happen on another level: the divine service is substituted for the black mass, and the sacred church utensils are replaced for the false analogs connected to the devil. Another terrible thing is the betrayal of people, whom young Brown trusted and who played very important role in his life – from aged and respectable priest to Goodman Brown’s wife Faith.
Finally, after his salvation (or still the awakening from the nightmare?) young Brown finds himself in the world of the all-out substitution. Here he must live till his death, all alone, not able to free himself from the true (or still not?) state of affairs. For Goodman Brown, it is the terrible reality he has faced. He was a naive person at the beginning; the world was joyous and simple for him.
His wife was “a blessed angel on earth” (“Young Goodman Brown” 5), his ancestors were “honest men and good Christians” (“Young Goodman Brown” 7), and his neighbors were “a people of prayer, and good works to boot” (“Young Goodman Brown” 7). However, after his journey he found out, that all his neighbors are the hypocrites, and Goodman Brown has become “a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man” (“Young Goodman Brown” 17).
These are the ancestors who doomed young Brown to such a destiny; from them he gets the duty to go through the path of the initiation. The fate is not revealed substantially: Goodman Brown only has to leave his home at the appointed time of the night and go along the appointed road to the appointed place. Exactly on this road Hawthorne creates the terrifying peculiarities of the short story: the atmosphere of the frontier, the crossroads, and the old road, where everything reminds about the sinister events.
The key feature that connects the details into the horrible whole and gives the short story such a powerful effect is time. It defines the creepy old times, which surround young and inexperienced Brown, saturates the air around him with the recollections about the bloody events of the past. The myths of the New England revive; the Salem witches arise in the imagination of the hero to confirm the shocking guess: the witchcraft is real, and the devil is its inspirer.
The short story “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” is full of the symbolism. To my mind, the deep meaning of this short story, that Hawthorne implies, is the America’s coming-of-age journey. The main character of “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” is 18-aged Robin, who comes to Boston to find his uncle Major Molineux. Finally, Robin finds him, humiliated by the crowd. I suppose that according to Hawthorne’s idea, Major Molineux is Great Britain.
He is described by the author as an “elderly man, of large and majestic person, and strong, square features, betokening a steady soul” (“My Kinsman, Major Molineux” 21). Major Molineux symbolizes the positive features of Great Britain, its power, maturity, and grandeur.
We can see from all the words concerning Major Molineux that Hawthorne is in sympathy with him, moreover, I think the author wants the readers to feel the compassion and sadness when the crowd scoffs at Major Molineux. I found this scene emotionally powerful and had an aversion for the crowd and felt compassion for aged Major. Nevertheless, this incident is a very symbolic act: the colony shows disrespect to the mother country. In his turn, Robin symbolizes young America.
He enjoys his freedom while looking for the uncle and that is why he is in no hurry. Sometimes the impression is that Robin does not want to find his uncle at all. After all the events, Robin understands he can live without the financial support of his uncle as well as without his guidance and pieces of advice.
Robin loses his naivety, innocence, and inexperience, in order to gain the sense of confidence and independence. Hawthorne shows, that America is ready to take any risk to become free from British rule, even if the circumstances are unfavorable. Another symbol is the prostitute wearing a red petticoat.
She treats Robin much better than other citizens and does all her best to seduce him. Nevertheless, Robin rejects all her offers, and that is how Hawthorne shows the boy’s willpower, focus, and dedication. The author uses the situation with the prostitute to symbolize the commitment of the young America to its great goal.
According to Hawthorne, the temptation and sin, as well as the promise of the prosperity and safety, which is obviously should be associated with the rule of Great Britain, cannot distract the America in the person of Robin from its lofty objectives and purposes. The final important symbol I can see in “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” is the transfiguring look of the church pillar.
Robin sees the tall church columns transforming into the tree branches that have an appearance of his uncle Major Molineux, and then back to the original shape. Such metamorphoses symbolize the interconnection of Great Britain and the Church. Hawthorne wants to emphasize the critical goal of the young America – to gain the religious freedom from the mother country. I think the church pillars are used by the author so that the readers can remember the crucial reason Americans strive for their independence and freedom.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. My Kinsman, Major Molineux. 1832. Web.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. 1835. Web.