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Brown's Fall Essay

2136 words - 9 pages

The setting of a work can be the most powerful literary devices an author uses in their work. Setting refers to a location or time in which a work is set. Setting has a wide range of possibilities. The setting of a work may be as simple as a single room or may be as complex as the author or character's psychological state of mind. Authors can use setting to enhance the theme of their works. One author in particular is Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote “Young Goodman Brown” in 1835. His time period influenced the theme of his work. The theme Hawthorne chose was the weakness of public morality. In “Young Goodman Brown” Hawthorne shows this theme through the perspective of a Puritan man, Goodman Brown. In the story Hawthorne shows that Goodman Brown’s religious convictions are rooted in his belief that those around him are also religious. This kind of faith, which depends so much on other people’s views, is easily weakened. Hawthorne suggests that faith is weak when people copy the beliefs of other people around them. Hawthorne shows this in the story with the fall of Goodman Brown, who at the beginning was pure and pious. To further illustrate this, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the setting of his time period and that of his predecessors to enhance the theme of the weakness of public morality in his work “Young Goodman Brown”.
Nathaniel Hawthorne used his own personal setting in life to help write his short stories. Most of Hawthorne's stories are dark and gloomy, as was the history of his family. The Hawthorne family had deep roots in New England. Hawthorne had an imaginative link to the paternal side of his family. This link to his father's family inspired most of Nathaniel’s literary work. Nathaniel’s great-great-grandfather, William Hathorne, immigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1630. William, shortly after arriving, became a very prominent townsmen and had made a name for himself. William served as a colonial legislator and a major in the Salem militia. Despite William's better deeds he is better known for his suppression of heretics, who also inhabited the land. During one trial Hathorne had ordered a burglar's ear to be cut off and have his forehead branded with the letter B. William's son John had followed his father's footsteps, he also became a judge. Nathaniel’s great-grandfather John's actions as a judge influenced the writing of “Young Goodman Brown”. In 1691, Salem had seen hard times. The town had gone through a brutal winter, an outbreak of smallpox, and heavy taxes from the British. The townsfolk's only explanation at the time was the devil. The bible had warned the puritan peoples of the devils evil ways, and the humans that serve him, witches. In 1692 the people of Salem had convinced themselves that witchcraft was invading the town. The people believed witchcraft was the cause for their economic and spiritual troubles. Many innocent townspeople were being accused of being witches and were brought...

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