Goodman Brown

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“Young Goodman Brown” is a short story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1835. The story relates to how people judge those around them. In this story, a character called Goodman Brown realizes that his fellow villagers worship the devil during ceremonies in the woods outside the village. Goodman Brown was under the false impression that he was pious and good, as was the rest of his village.

There are two different ways to interpret this story. One could interpret that Hawthorne believes the townspeople are hypocritical because they worship the devil in the forest while preaching good within the city. “According to this official discourse, Goodman Brown undergoes no change or growth in his future to develop tested faiths. He fails to transform his “benighted experience” into the fortunate fall. But the unofficial discourse suggests evil is a necessary counterpart of good” (Jamil 2007). In this interpretation, Brown would be morally superior by resisting the townspeople’s pressure to worship the evil in the woods. This quote explains that Brown loses his faith in people when finding out what really happens in the forest.

However, Hawthorne is actually trying to portray to the reader that the villagers are correct in recognizing that human beings sin and the world is an evil place. He portrays the villagers as not hypocritical by addressing sin and acknowledging it exists and that it is necessary for there to be good. Hawthorne likely believes Brown is the most evil and the worst sinner for believing himself superior to others and looking down on them. “Goodman Brown and Bill Harford undergo similar depth experiences; in Tilliach words, their souls “pass over many spheres when domestic forces rule”. That’s how they felt about the town’s people into the forest (Nearly 2006)

Hawthorne could not have meant the villagers to be portrayed as hypocritical. At one point, Goodman recognizes a song sang in the forest as one sang in the village at church....
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