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Nathanial Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”

It is Nathanial Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown that still makes students’ minds and imaginations work hard after reading the short story. The plot is marvelous as per both theological and moral issues. Undeniable, the short story is one that makes one rethink the ideas and values of own life due to the controversial and at the same time sharp plot. So, in this paper, the following issue will be discussed: if Brown’s conflict was an imaginary one, or if he actually fought the Devil in this theological Heart of Darkness.

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As such, the image of a character due to whom Brown was being torn to pieces during the entire story is essential. This is Faith – his beloved wife – who is vitally important to him as a person, as well as the major theological strength giver. The overall story is unveiling quite a challenge that Goodman Brown meets as a Puritan leader. This is a feature that extra emphasis should be given. A protagonist is a person living in soul quests about God and faith. When Goodman is ultimately challenged by the Devil, he says ‘Faith kept me back awhile’ (p. 1290). This statement has a double meaning since there was his beloved wife, Faith, who physically kept him from going on an ‘errand’ and his actual faith in God that delayed his meeting with the Devil. However, it has to be noticed here that Goodman himself went on this journey resolutely and implicitly. The reason for that might be a mere interest, which explicitly correlates with the story of Adam and Eve when they were led by the snake to the Tree of Knowledge. It has to be said that the trip through the forest was a desired and deliberate one. Hence, the meeting with the Devil was the presupposed and ultimately longed-for affair. Goodman Brown consciously left his wife and made his way to the Sabbath: “My journey needst be done twixt now and sunrise” (p. 1289)

Hawthorne explicitly and brilliantly showed how Goodman tortured himself with the thought of his wife being at Sabbath, too. This was probably the most awful fact for him as after he returned home his life became gloomy for the rest of the days. Here, the main question arises: was the meeting for real since it spoiled Goodman’s entire life and attitude towards his wife? In order to answer this question, it has to be mentioned that the story has many symbols and overall plot ideas connected with Bible. Thus, according to the Bible, a person is whatever he/she thinks about. Therefore, Goodman was the one who wanted to meet the Devil himself, though was totally afraid of the circumstances. Also, the creepy fact is that Goodman found out that his forefathers belonged to the Heart of Darkness, too. Therefore, it is evident that he was completely devastated by the facts that came to the surface during the conversation with the Devil, though the devastation was an inevitable outcome of the conversation since Goodman knew that there would be nothing nice after he meets the Devil at Sabbath. Therefore, although it is hard to define if he fought the devil for real or not, it is undeniable that he definitely fought his own devil, the ‘old man’ depicted by Hawthorne resembled the ‘young man’ so much.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. New York: Dover Publications, February 5, 1992. Print.

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