Essay about Good and Evil in Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In the short story “Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne sets the locale of the story during the Salem witch trials at his convenience to include the Calvinist theme of sin, that belief in which formed the early history of New England’s social and spiritual identity. As a dark romantic, Hawthorne includes the elements of human nature, mysticism, good and evil, and one’s own spirituality to convey his message to the reader. However, it is left to the reader’s own digression to interpret his ambiguous conclusions. At the beginning of the short story, Brown finds himself on a journey to the enchanted forest outside of his village for a mysterious appointment. Unknowingly, Brown is traveling into the heart of darkness in which he will be …show more content…

The devil shows Brown that Goody Cloyse is a great friend of his. Goody Cloyse, the woman whose catechism taught Brown the way to heaven. Brown states, “What if a wretched old woman do choose to go to the devil when I thought she was going to heaven: is that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith and go after her?” Brown still believes that his confidence will get him into heaven. Finally, Brown realizes that his perception of his faith is mistaken. Realizing that Deacon Gookin and the minister are followers of the devil helped Brown make this realization. After the devils sermon at the meeting, Brown attempts to maintain his illusion that his faith will get him into heaven by saying “Faith! Faith…look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one.” Brown did not lose his faith at all; instead he learned the frightening significance of it.
Other critics say that Brown was in a world of moral imagination. Reginald Cook states, ‘the magic forest, is always full of adventures.” While in the forest, Brown comes in contact with the forces of nature in their fearful aspects, assuming that Brown travels from the village into the forest as he moves from a “conscious world to a subconscious one.” When reading the short story, the beginning and end of the story are so real that when we get to the middle of the story, it seems like Brown is just in a horrific dream.

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