Nathaniel Hawthorn's "Young Goodman Brown" Symbolizes The Abundance Of Sin Within Society

1798 words - 7 pages

        Throughout Nathaniel Hawthorn's esteemed short story, "Young Goodman Brown," there are several symbols which express the allegory of how widespread and inescapable sin is within our world. According to The Holy Bible and Puritan belief, sin is the transgression of the Ten Commandments, which was introduced into society after Adam broke the covenant for eating the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden. This sin was passed throughout the generations, for because the first father, namely Adam, sinned, therefore each succeeding child was conceived in sin and born in iniquity. Thus, there is still evil that lurks in everyone's souls, for human nature is bound to be flawed and imperfect. This inescapable evil sin in our world is frequently represented by several objects, people, and events in "Young Goodman Brown" as an attempt to prove that man, no matter how righteous, is always sinful. Furthermore, Hawthorn demonstrates the falsehood in Puritan belief and the many inaccuracies its catechism contains. Nathaniel Hawthorn uses a plethora of allegorical symbols throughout his venerated short story,"Young Goodman Brown," such as Young Goodman himself, Faith, the forest, the fellow-traveler, and the ritual in order to express the inescapable and widespread prevalence of evil within this world, for even the most righteously devout humans are inherently sinful.

        In Young Goodman Brown's character, sin was eventually shown to be inherent to his nature. For example, Young Goodman Brown's name itself holds much significant symbolism, for the names "Young" and "Goodman" imply that he is naive, innocent, and most importantly, sinless. Goodman believed that everyone in Salem was righteous and sinless, as shown when he states, "We have been a race of honest men and good Christians since the days of the martyrs (Hawthorn)." Albeit, his curiosity led him to discover the unknown in the dark forest, and thus, this curiosity led him to venture on his journey. However, just like the proverb, "curiosity killed the cat," Goodman's curiosity led him to discover something which negatively altered his life forever, for from this point on, he was "borne to his grave, a hoary corpse (Hawthorn)." Similarly, in William Golding's The Lord of the Flies, the discovery of the unknown savage and sinful beast within everyone brought about the death of Simon and several of his tribemates. Thus, in both cases, it can be seen that when one realizes that human nature is inherently sinful, they begin to understand the negative role which we play in the world and how our lives are destined for Hell. Because Puritan doctrine taught that all men are totally depraved and require constant self-examination to see that they are sinners and unworthy of God's grace, Goodman Brown's journey through the forest and realization that humans aren't "a race of honest men and good Christians (Hawthorn)," can be seen as his enlightenment into Puritanism. However,...

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