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Young Goodman Brown Essay

1044 words - 4 pages

The main theme of the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “ Young Goodman Brown,” is the struggle between Goodman Brown’s faith, power to resist his own evil impulses and his own doubts within him. It is a story of Young Goodman Brown’s personal conflict over his inner desires and its greater meaning conflict between good and evil in the world. The characteristics of Young Goodman Brown are similar to the life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel Hawthorne had his own doubts about his own Puritan life and beliefs. There are numerous examples in this story whereby Hawthorne clearly demonstrates to the reader Goodman Brown’s personal internal conflict between good and evil.
Hawthorne’s knowledge of the historical background of Puritanism combined with the personal experience of his early life and the history of his own family merge into the actions that Young Goodman Brown takes. “Good men” in Hawthorne’s day were those who came from a “proper” family. The influence of Puritan religion, culture and education had a major role in how someone perceived themselves and their community around them. Goodman Brown claims that he is from a family of good men that have “never been into the forest on such an errand” to meet the devil; Hawthorne utilizes this information in order to show the reader how Goodman Brown’s ancestries played a vital role on how Goodman Brown thought of himself (as of good character). This view is quickly challenged by the devil himself when he states that all of his ancestors were with him as they tortured women in Salem or burned Indian villages to the ground, and afterwards the devil and his ancestors would go for a friendly walk. Goodman response to this allegation was; “We are a people of prayer, and good works to boot, and abide no such wickedness.” Goodman disbelieves that his ancestors could do such wickedness. Hawthorne calls into question the chaste foundation of Young Goodman Brown's heritage, as well as the societal viewpoint of what is respectable, simply by pointing to a few facts. Given the existence and the importance of religion in the era of the early nineteenth century, Goodman Brown may be expressing a desire to break loose from a rigid puritan lifestyle. The puritan life style required their followers to doubt themselves and their community so much that a reality in which one could achieve Grace did not exist. It taught that one could not trust anyone.
The experience that Goodman Brown faces will spur a complex inner conflict between good and evil. Upon entering the forest Goodman Brown is suspicious of every rock and tree, thinking something evil will jump out at him. When he finally does meet someone on the trail, who appears to be of evil origin, he feels confident that he can refuse any temptations. This evil person makes several advances and Goodman refuses. At first Goodman feels confident that he can resist any temptation that the devils throws upon him. Hawthorne describes how closely the devil resembles Goodman....

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