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Young Goodman Brown

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Brant Bond
Cardiff
ENG 231
2/17/11

From Goodman to bad man
Christianity has had a major impact on Western civilization. The strong presence of the Christian church in Europe for several centuries shaped societies ideology way back then and even shape ours today. The church affected society socially and politically as much as it did spiritually. People’s imaginations and fantasy’s were not separate from this Christian way of thinking. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story Young Goodman Brown (Hawthorne) you see an example of this Christian type of fantasy, although the work appears to contain a deeper message of faith, which is also a fundamental Christian value. In Young Goodman Brown Hawthorne depicts a young man named Goodman Brown who leaves his wife, who is ironically named Faith, and heads into the unknown of the wilderness. The story contains very dark imagery of demons and everything devilish, and Goodman Brown struggles with exhaustion, fear, and anger. Hawthorne sets the stage for a downward spiral that sends Goodman Brown straight to a Christian Hell. It is a story that serves as example of what could make a good young man turn into a wicked old fool. This story is a detailed and very dark depiction of a major Christian fear which is to succumb to the wishes of the devil. It shows that all men, even those who have it as good as young Goodman Brown could fall at the hands of the fallen angel. A story I am sure, in its time was very frightening and most certainly not for children’s eyes. Was Hawthorne trying to ignite fear in Christians? Is the wilderness a metaphor for the real world? A young Goodman Brown the symbol of a Christian who could easily lose his path in the harshness of the real world? All of these questions could be true. The loss of faith is the beginning of all of young Goodman Brown’s woes, because after he leaves his wife Faith and heads into the forest that is when his downward spiral begins. Perhaps, Hawthorne is saying that if...