The Themes of the Struggle of Good Versus Evil, and Love in Young Goodman Brown, The May-Pole of Merry Mount, and The Minister’s Black Veil
Symbolism is a device Nathaniel Hawthorne takes full advantage of in his literary works. Through the use of both characters and material objects, Hawthorne reaches similar themes. Writing from an era of Puritans, his themes present in the form of Puritanism, the struggle of Good versus evil, and laden with love. Hawthorne’s central focus in “Young Goodman Brown,” “The May-Pole of Merry Mount,” and “The Minister’s Black Veil” are stories that invoke feelings toward the sins of man.
“Young Goodman Brown” tells the tale of a man who wants to be good, hence his name. He clings to both his literal and figurative Faith, the literal being his wife. Faith, as a concept, has characteristics of innocence, purity, and is often associated with religion or strong feelings; therefore, he continuously expects his wife to be pure-hearted and godly. With pink bows and an intoxicating housewife personality, Faith is expected to be the perfect symbol of the figurative faith. As long as Faith remains godly, Goodman believes it is possible for himself to be as well; however, appearance is not everything. Even those who look and seem the most innocent can be corrupt, including: Faith, an old man who turns out to be the Devil, and family. As Goodman discovers that sin lies in the heart of man, he becomes estranged from his literal and figurative Faith.
“The May-Pole of Merry Mount” is a tale of joy laden with sin and love. The townspeople of Merry Mount are frivolous and fun-spirited; The Puritans are reserved, sensible, and maintain a set of expectations for all. It is unknown which group represents good and which represents evil. It depends on the reader’s perspective; however, one symbol is clear. Edith and Edgar of Merry Mount are a symbol of love. They have a love that even impresses Endicott, the leader of the Puritan group. Even in a battle of good versus evil, no matter the heart, humanity still remains.
In “The Minister’s Black Veil,” a man named Parson Hooper voluntarily admits his sins as he dons a black veil. The townspeople see this sudden use of a veil as wearing his sin. To think- a minister who sins! It is difficult for people to accept that even a man of God has some degree of “evil” in his heart. It makes the townspeople and even Hooper’s fiancée uneasy; Parson Hooper, however, commits to wearing the veil until the end of his days. This represents how sin never really leaves a man. It could be inferred that the townspeople recognize that everyone wears a black veil, and that is what makes them uneasy.
Sin and evil affect everyone in some way. The psychological effects are different for everyone. Some choose to accept it, like Parson Hooper. Some people find the good left in it, like Endicott. Some choose to run from it and become consumed by it, like Goodman Brown.
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