Faith, Hypocrisy and Conflict As Mirrored in Young Goodman Brown

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The doctrines of the Puritan church to which Nathaniel Hawthorne belonged, had a strong element of Calvinism with its stress on total depravity. At the catechism, children were drilled in the idea that everybody was a sinner.


While the earlier generations followed the doctrines implicitly, the newer generations of the nineteenth century started to see through the hypocrisy of the so called pious individuals who were the pillars of the society and started to doubt them. Hawthorne, who was brought up in Salem which still followed the Puritanical beliefs of the eighteenth century, shows the conflict and moral dilemma caused by the hypocrisy of the pious and powerful in his writings. A new historical analysis of the short story, ”Young Goodman Brown “ by Nathaniel Hawthorne throws light on the conflict caused in an individual by the hypocrisy of those whom he admires and shows how it causes him to lose his faith. Young Goodman Brown sets out from home one night to take part in a ceremony of witchcraft, leaving his wife Faith behind. On the way he meets a stranger who looks like him, and as they proceed through the woods, young Goodman Brown sees and hears many men and women who he had thought were righteous, going to the same witches Sabbath and being on friendly terms with the devil. At the end of his reluctant journey he sees his young wife Faith at the place of the ceremony. He tells her to resist the temptations offered by the devil by looking heavenwards, when he is awakened from his dream. ...
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