Young Goodman Brown: Immature Innocence vs. Mature Guilt

Topics: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown, Allegory Pages: 3 (805 words) Published: April 3, 2005
Young Goodman Brown: Immature Innocence vs. Mature Guilt
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne expresses his true feelings about the negative beliefs of the puritan religion through usage of expressive styles and themes, various characters, and objects within the story. Because the puritan religion was in affect during a very complicated and chaotic time known as the Salem Witch Trials many people, including Young Goodman Brown, would be shocked to discover that the pure puritan society they knew was in fact contaminated with evil.

Hawthorne uses the main character, Young Goodman Brown, to lucidly convey the story's main theme of corrupted innocence. When one carefully analyzes Young Goodman Brown's character the main concept that comes to mind is that the character appears to be an implied part of his religion-pure. The reader should keep in mind that purity is often associated with innocence. The sense of purity within the character of Young Goodman Brown will later appear to be awkward. In the beginning of the story when he meets the Devil in the forest the narrator states that the Devil "was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance to him, (Hawthorne, 337)." Through this statement the reader now knows that Young Goodman Brown is not young as his name implies, he is actually a very old man who is just now reaching the stage in life where one realizes that the world is not surfeited with just purity alone, it also contains evil. When the reader first begins the story it is automatically assumed that his title Young Goodman Brown means that he is literally young, which further implies innocence, immaturity, and naive ness. During the Puritan times the title Goodman was equivalent to the present day title of mister. Hawthorne presents a character that has the assumed name of a child, Young Goodman Brown, and the demeanor and thought process of a child;...

Cited: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." Literature: Reading, Reacting,
Writing. 5th ed. Eds. Laurie G. Kirsznev and Stephen R. Mandell. Boston:
Thomson, 2004. 336-345
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