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Young Goodman Brown Essay, Research Paper

Matt Hamacher


This story is one that is well-written while at the same time one that makes you think. We observe the main character, Goodman Brown, a somewhat common man, go from seeking goodness and perfection to the exact opposite: ending up in total failure and alienating himself from humanity. Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of the story, presents us with a classic journey of the typical man, the typical Brown , into what he considers to be the greatest transformation of the human mind possible: the transformation from wanting goodness and perfection, and rather one that ends up with imperfection and isolation. Hawthorne is relating Brown, being the common name, to us as a whole. He sees humanity as he presents Goodman Brown. He believes that the human race in general is bound to end up soaking in isolation if it is perfection that is expected. If one just cuts into this story only a short way, he will find what Hawthorne means by this. If one insists on perfection, he or she is doomed to failure and isolation from humanity as a whole.

In the beginning of the story, right away we see Goodman Brown seeking perfection when thinking about his wife, Faith: Well, she s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven. Brown has just parted with his wife for the first time to go into the woods. As he is thinking about his wife, he begins to believe, quite abruptly I might add, that, since his wife is such a dear, he must be so too. He assumes he is perfect based on his wife (Faith), not simply because of any specific action. He also is seeking perfection and goodness by saying: Having kept my covenant by meeting thee here, it is my purpose now to return whence I came. I have scruples touching the matter thou wot st of. Here Brown is speaking to the Devil in human form, that of himself almost. By making the Devil look like Goodman, Hawthorne is almost foreshadowing that Brown will eventually come to the Devil himself. As for the quote, Goodman realizes that it might be a good idea to turn back, back to Faith, away from the Devil. But no, he continues. It s just too good to be true. The Devil is indeed a seducer of men. Next, we see Goodman, once again with the Devil, worrying about what the minister will think and say if he continues: how should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem village? Oh, his voice would make me tremble both Sabbath day and lecture day. At this the Devil just laughs. Goodman here is worried that he will be looked down upon by the leader of the church in his town; the total failure in this society.

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