Traditional Approaches to Literary Criticism

Topics: Salem witch trials, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Salem, Massachusetts Pages: 2 (633 words) Published: April 1, 2013
Young Goodman Brown is one of the best short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne written in 17th century. It dwells on the depravity of mankind even on those who are born in a state of grace. Also his grandfather John Hathorne is one of those slayers in Salem Witch Trials. He changes his surname as he is ashamed of what his ancestors have done and wants to hide this relation. Hawthorne addresses the puritan and calvinist belief by showing the characteristics of the damned people of his time. The setting of the story is unknown because it is not explained whether it is reality or a dream world.

The story takes place in Salem village. Throughout the story, our hero wants to go to the dark forest and leave his wife behind. He promises to return back as fast as he can and he leaves his house. In the forest, he meets the devil in the form of a middle-aged, respectable-looking man whom he made a bargain to meet him there and accompany on the journey. As they go into the forest, the devil says that all of Brown’s relatives, neighbours, friends and even his beloved wife are the servants of devil and all of those people show themselves in the forest. In the meantime he hears his wife’s voice and tells her to save herself and pray to God. After that he finds himself alone in the forest and returns to his home. Through the way of his home, he doubts everyone he sees on the street and even his wife. He remains in the state of cynicisim until he dies. This story similars to “Dr.Faustus” who sells his soul to the devil for some desirable thing, and later on he suffers till he dies.

Hawthorne references three dark events from the Puritan history to strengthen his story’s target. One of them is Salem Witch Trials, which is about the death of twenty-five innocent people who were accused of being witches based on revenge and jealousy. The second one is the Puritan intolerance of Quakers that is about a fight...
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