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The Struggle In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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“False Faces”

Writing about the 17th century, Nathaniel Hawthorne used the knowledge of his ancestors to depict influential stories of the Puritan culture and their ideals. Often noting the hypocrisy of Puritanism, his characters embody the virtues and flaws of the Puritan people. One of his characters, Young Goodman Brown, experiences a profound disillusionment when he attends the devil’s ceremony in the woods of Salem. During the procession, the devil preaches with a certain superiority, “This night it shall be granted you to know their secret deeds… where crime has been committed, and shall exult to behold the whole earth one stain of guilt, one mighty blood spot” (44). Goodman Brown learns that those whom he had considered as the models of morality are actually sinners. The devil accentuates the point that not only these people are sinners,
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In “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Minister’s Black Veil,” multiple characters are obsessed with the sins that others are hiding. The theme of hiding one’s faults and flaws remains prevalent in literature not only pertaining to the Puritans of American history. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and her husband plot to murder King Duncan. After the crime, Macbeth assumes power and must speak with Duncan’s closest friends in such a way that he will not be accused of the King’s assassination. Conspiring with Lady Macbeth, he says, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know” (I.vii.92-96). Macbeth must hide the sins of his heart by displaying a facade. Reverend Hooper presents a facade, however, it is the opposite. Instead of showing a kind face to cover his sins like Macbeth, he wears a dark veil to cover his typically genial disposition. The false faces of the world are what cause one to be suspicious and obsess over another’s purity. Considering the texts, the obsession with purity and sin can only result in one’s
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