Young Goodman Brown Essay

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Updated: Apr 21, 2021
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Young Goodman Brown Essay essay

“The short story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne suggests everyone is corruptible. The Dark Romanticism story develops by Goodman Brown gradually giving into evil through the corruption of his wife, Faith, and his encounter with the devil. All the main characters are deceiving to Goodman Brown, and he sees they are corrupt. There appears to be also many instances in which symbols that portray the struggle of good versus evil, Hawthorne suggests that evil usually takes control. The story unfolds by showing three distinct characters and the conflicts they go through, which eventually leads to the climax where the story’s themes about deceit and corruption are revealed.

The whole story of “Young Goodman Brown” “hovers on the borderline between the subjective and objective reality derived from Hawthorne’s suggestion that Brown’s experience is peculiar to him and yet broadly representative,” (Levy 376). It is all the readers’ interpretation of whether the witches’ Sabbath was a real occurrence of a figment of Brown’s imagination. But, since the reader decides it leads to many interpretations, somehow each of those take away common themes: everyone is corruptible, therefore becoming capable of evil and deceit that is unexpected. This paper applies the previously stated theme to “Young Goodman Brown.”

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Prior research investigations don’t do enough dissection on how the history of Salem influences the whole story and connects to their thesis. But, the history is important to understand what type of evil the thesis is describing. Hawthorne wrote “Young Goodman Brown” in a seventeenth century Puritan New England in a village named Salem. Salem is most infamously known for the Salem witch trials–the killing of twenty-five innocent people who were accused of being witches–which many critics pointed out. But, Hawthorne didn’t blindly choose Salem as the setting of this story because of the witch trials, his great-great-grandfather, John Hathorne, was the infamous judge of the trials and Salem was Hawthorne’s hometown. There were also two more historical events indicated by the old man with the serpent staff: the Puritan intolerance of the Quakers, and King Philip’s War.

But, the history takes control of the setting while the characters control the story–their change and conflicts are distinct factors that contribute to the story’s development. Goodman Brown resembles both innocence and corruptibility in the story. He believed in the goodness in those around him all his life until this one night, whether the encounter of the old man was real or a dream, his feelings suddenly turned to distrust with everyone around him, including his wife.”

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Young Goodman Brown Essay. (2021, Apr 21). Retrieved from