Sin in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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Puritan doctrine taught that all men are totally depraved. And the young Puritan Goodman Brown accepted this principle, after his in-the-woods experience, as applying not only to the Salem village rank-and-file but even to his faultless wife Faith. Is this notion of sin correct? This essay seeks to compare this moral depravity doctrine of the Puritans as seen in “Young Goodman Brown” to the Catholic Church’s teaching on sin, a recognized standard.

The influence of Puritan religion, culture and education is a common topic in Nathaniel Hawthorne's works. Growing up, Hawthorne could not escape the influence of Puritan society, not only from residing with his father's devout Puritan family as a child but also due to Hawthorne's study
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The supposed conversion experience he has at this liturgy easily translates into the dream allegory of Hawthorne’s work and allows the author to use Puritan doctrine and the history of Salem to argue the merits and consequences of the belief in man’s total depravity. Such a belief is too harsh to be in accordance with Scripture, I think the Catholic Church would say. Consider how the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) includes God’s Mercy with its treatment of sin(pt3,s1,ch1,art8):

1848 As St. Paul affirms, "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more."118 But to do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts and bestow on us "righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."119 Like a physician who

probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin. . . .

As Benjamin Franklin V states in "Goodman Brown and the Puritan Catechism," Hawthorne used John Cotton's Milk for Babes as the education source of Goodman Brown. It was the Puritan belief that man must be instructed to realize his own depravity, and therefore at childhood the education began. The child was taught that he was”conceived in sin, and born in iniquity” (70). This was a very harsh doctrine, with lifelong affects on the minds of Puritan believers. Let us visit the Catechism of the Catholic
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