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Meditation: "Young Goodman Brown"

  • Date Submitted: 11/02/2010 09:28 AM
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Ashley Wright
Dr. Hassan
Literary Criticism
9 September 2010
Meditation on “Young Goodman Brown”

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” is known as one of the most famous Halloween stories in America. The story can be read in many ways, but the psychological approach reveals the complexity of human nature.   The story is in essence dark and bizarre in setting; but when reading the story carefully something much more mysterious is uncovered—an uncertain destiny. History shows that there has always been conflict within one’s own religious belief system; and “Young Goodman Brown” is an example of religious internal conflict. It is a gothic tale that tells the story of a young man who is perplexed about his own spirituality, but is afraid to admit his own ambivalence. He is torn between good and evil, and is somehow compelled to explore the unthinkable. Because there is no say in what motivates him to take this dark journey, one could only assume that his motivation is simply human nature. The Biblical allusions are evident throughout the short story—and the Holy Bible illustrates ambiguity in the case of the fall of man in Genesis. Like Goodman Brown, Adam and Eve are driven by their human instincts—which lets us know that curiosity existed long before Hawthorne’s obscure character.
“Young Goodman Brown” takes place in the time of Puritan colonization during the 17th century. The Puritans were very austere people who believed that Christian religion was the only way of life. They even held themselves higher than those who did not profess the same religion, and were very arrogant in their demeanor.   This is the culture of Young Goodman Brown. The irony is that Goodman Brown is professing his faith while taking this evil journey. Every instant he is looking back in desperation wanting to return to his wife Faith, but keeps on the path perhaps out of a need to feed his curiosity. Maybe he doubts his faith. Maybe, like many of his fellow believers he...


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