In "Young Goodman Brown," Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts a 17th century Puritan attempting to reach justification as Brown's faith required. Upon completing his journey, however, Brown could not confront the terrors of evil in his heart and chose to reject all of society. Puritan justification was a topic Hawthorne was aware of as an internalized journey to hell necessary for a moral man. Having
referred to the heart of man as hell, Puritans found themselves in the midst of Satan and his multitude of devils as he established his kingdom in man's heart.
This was a dreadful revelation that caused Brown to grow bitter and distrustful, just as it did with 17th Century Puritans. Hawthorne in "Young Goodman Brown is able to develop the conflict of the story through the conflict within the setting, the identification of conflicts, and the resolution to the conflict. The time era is approximately a generation after the time of the witch trials.
Puritan communities, secured by their orthodox faith, dealt with the ungodly wilderness around them. Set in Salem during the early witchcraft day of 1692, Young Goodman Brown's experience in the dark, evil forest correlated and would have been recognized by Puritans as a symbol of mistrust of their own corrupt hearts and faculties. The forest, dark and evil, represented the deceit and darkness of man's heart. Just as Brown could not trust the shadows and figures he saw hidden in the forest, he could not trust his own desires. Those desires
had to be purged through his journey into the forest, which became a Journey towards Justification. That corrupt heart was torn open after Brown heard Faith's voice and seeing her pink ribbon screamed: "My Faith is gone . . . . There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come Devil; for to thee is this world given." Such a revelation made Brown "a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man." This revelation is often the result of a... [continues]
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