Essay On Faith In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

720 words - 3 pages

Faith in Young Goodman Brown  

 
   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 frightening descriiption. Brown himself even states, " 'There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree. What if the Devil himself should be at my very elbow!' "  (p 376) These are, obviously, the blatant examples of puritan "silliness."

                For the less obvious (though not by that much), we must look at the (stereotypical) Puritan beliefs and how they were viewed by the rest of the world. Many people found that, especially with the mythical horrid-ness of the Salem witch-trails, Puritan ideology was not a god thing. There was a great deal of dislike for the religious fervor that was once described as exemplary. Hawthorne shows this in the description of his "devil" in "Young Goodman Brown".  "...the second traveler was...apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown..." (p 376). Hawthorne describes the Devil in the image of a puritan: the dress is the same, the overall appearance the same, the speech the same. Yet it is the devil being described. Hawthorne is showing a disdain for the Puritan...

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