Transcendentalism and Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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Transcendentalism and “Young Goodman Brown”

“Young Goodman Brown” manifests characteristics of the onetime Transcendentalist beliefs of its author in its abundance of symbolism and in its emphasis on individuality and personal responsibility.

Let us briefly review the life of the author up to and including his brief acceptance of Transcendentalism. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, to a family that had been prominent in the area since colonial times. A rich lore of family and local history provided much of the material for Hawthorne's works. When Nathaniel was four, his father died on a voyage in Surinam, Dutch Guinea, but maternal relatives recognized his literary talent and
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“Young Goodman Brown” would convey these ideals, emphasizing symbolism and contrasting the generally accepted Puritan morality with Goodman Brown’s individual, personal morality.

“Young Goodman Brown” takes place in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem village: It was “the center of the witchcraft delusion, in the witching times of 1692, and it shows the populace of Salem Village, those chief in authority as well as obscure young citizens like Brown, enticed by fiendish shapes into the frightful solitude of superstitious fear” (Abel 133).

In "Young Goodman Brown" Goodman Brown is a Puritan husband who lets his individualistic impulses lead him into a personal encounter with the devil himself. Goodman Brown: 1. According to Levy, he “is Everyman. The bargain he has struck with Satan is the universal one . . . . Initially, he is a naive and immature young man who fails to understand the gravity of the step he has taken . . . [which is] succeeded by a presumably adult determination to resist his own evil impulses” (117). 2. Fogle writes that he is “a naive young man who accepts both society in general and his fellow men as individuals at their own valuation, [who] is in one terrible night confronted with the vision of human evil . . . ” (15).

"Young Goodman Brown" begins when Brown is starting to set out into the woods for a secret meeting. Faith,
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